Being located so close to where the Glastonbury is held, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Shepton Mallet is just a party town. But you'll be glad to hear that Shepton Mallet is much more relaxed and has a very different feel to the festival atmosphere.
Having said that, there is still plenty to see and do in Shepton Mallet, and although it might not be as crazy as Glastonbury, you'll still find plenty of things to enjoy.
We wanted to create a guide for anyone planning to visit this town in 2023, let's get into it:
Where is Shepton Mallet?
We should start by establishing where the town is - Shepton Mallet is located in the Mendip district of Somerset. It is situated about 18 miles south of Bristol, 16 miles South-West of Bath, and 5 miles east of Wells. The town is well-known for being just a stone's throw away from where the famous Glastonbury Festival is held, with regular 'festival buses' departing from the town during the festival period.
What is there to do during your time in Shepton Mallet?
Shepton Mallet is quite a small town but you'll still find plenty to see and do, here are some of the highlights:
Shepton Mallet Prison
Going to prison might not sound like the ideal way to start your time in Shepton Mallet, but we think that this prison is one that you'll actually want to spend time in. Dating back to the 17th century, the prison has a long and frankly gruesome history, all of which is wonderfully told via interactive exhibits and a really interesting guided or self-guided tour. There's also an escape room and you can even follow a ghost hunt if you're feeling brave enough. Learn more and plan your visit here - sheptonmalletprison.com
Visit Beacon Hill Woods
If you're looking for a great walking route to follow, head to the nearby Beacon Hill Woods where you can follow part of the Fosse Way, a Roman Road. Perched on a ridge at the East side of the Mendip Hills, the area is dominated by beech and Scots pine, and features a number of interesting archaeological and natural features for you to keep an eye out for while you explore. Bronze Age burial mounds, Roman Roads, and standing stones (pictured) are the types of features you'll stumble across as you explore the woods. Visiting either during the Spring or Autumn guarantees stunning colours, especially during the Spring when you can expect to see bluebells. Dogs are welcome and we'd recommend bringing proper walking shoes with you as it can get muddy, learn more here - woodlandtrust.org.uk
Kilver Court Gardens
This stunning garden was designed by renowned garden designer Roger Saul, and is home to an amazing array of plants, flowers, and trees. Visitors can wander through the gardens and enjoy the tranquil setting, which features a babbling brook, a Victorian viaduct, and a number of ornate water features. In addition to the beautiful gardens, Kilver Court is also a great place to grab a bite to eat or a coffee, all of which is freshly made and delicious. Learn more and plan your visit here - kilvercourt.co.uk
Visit St Peter & St Paul’s Church
Like every good English town, Shepton Mallet has a number of churches which are free to visit and very interesting to explore. The prettiest of the lot is definitely St Peter & St Paul’s Church (pictured), which is a very striking building. Dating back to the 12th century, it's a Grade I listed building and has some really interesting features, including a striking wooden ceiling. As with all churches, please be respectful when you visit. Learn more here - sheptonbenefice.org
Shepton Mallet Lido
If you're feeling brave enough to take a dip in an outdoor pool, then the Shepton Mallet Lido is the perfect place for a dip. The pool was originally built in the 1960s and has been lovingly restored and renovated in recent years. The lido is a popular destination for families and swimmers of all ages, and features a large main pool, a children's pool, and a number of other facilities. It closes during the colder parts of the year, but is always open during the summer months. Learn more here - fusion-lifestyle.com
Enjoy some cider
Shepton Mallet is well known as a cider town due to the number of breweries and orchards within the area, so it's a great place to grab some of the best cider you'll drink anywhere in the country. It's hard to single out a single brewery to visit as they all offer something different, but a few of the best to sample during your time in the town would be Pilton, Mallets, Showerings, and Worley's. The mill used by Pilton Cider can be visited and is really cool to see, especially for people interested in brewing.
Things to be aware of before visiting Shepton Mallet
We mentioned in our introduction that Shepton Mallet is near Glastonbury Festival, and it's definitely worth keeping that in mind when you visit. Traffic can get pretty bad around the town during the month when the festival is held, so if you're travelling while the festival is on, you'll want to allow plenty of time for getting around. We also think that the walking routes around Shepton Mallet are excellent, so bringing proper walking gear with you is a must.
Hopefully, we've inspired you to visit Shepton Mallet. If you enjoyed this guide, check out our other guides about other locations in Somerset such as Nunney, as well as the cycle route which takes you through Somerset, The Collier's Way. We also have guides about UK towns including Crickhowell, Worthing and Sidmouth.