Nether Stowey, at the start of The Coleridge Way, is a delightful medieval town that grew around textiles and pottery, hosting a weekly market and fair for the outlying villages. Today a lot of its significant buildings remain, and the pretty thatched and paint washed houses still hold a timeless appeal that have resulted in the town becoming a protected Conservation Area. The area around the central clock tower was the location for the markets and behind this was the Gaol and village stocks. Today the old schoolhouse is now a library with a small museum and the streets are still well worth wandering, with The Church of St Mary and its 15th-century tower and the cottages in Castle Street dating back to the 11th Century. Look out for the colourful statue of Jane Seymour (King Henry 8ths wife) and her faithful dog, who watches over you from a garden alcove as you depart on The Coleridge Way.
Today the village serves Coleridge Way walkers well with two pubs and a tea shop to choose from, along with a small handful of shops. Most walkers stay in one of village B&B's. Of course the big interest in the village is Coleridge himself and you have the Ancient Mariners Inn serving meals and local beers right opposite Coleridge’s Cottage and the start of The Coleridge Way.
Coleridge’s Cottage (17th Century) was the poet's base while he lived here (in this "miserable cottage", as Sara Coleridge called it) where he worked on Kubla Khan, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and the Lyrical Ballads. Run by the National Trust, you can visit the cottage before starting the walk, and get fully briefed on the birth of the Romantic Movement which flowed from the kitchen, parlour and wild flower and orchard gardens at this spot. Everything is restored to how it would have been in Coleridge’s day, including displays that house some of the Poets original correspondence, his inkwells and even locks from his hair! Well worth building into your itinerary, this tiny location was in fact the winner of the Visit England award for the best visitor attraction in 2014!