The Queen’s Arms is nestled in the Country Life cover-worthy village of Corton Denham on the Dorset-Somerset border, a ten-minute drive from Sherborne.
The closest are Bristol or Southampton; if you’re travelling from further afield, you’re better off flying to London’s Heathrow or Gatwick and driving (it takes about two hours and fifteen minutes) or catching a train to Sherborne.
Sherborne and Castle Carey stations are both about fifteen to twenty minutes’ drive away. With advance notice, the hotel can organise taxi transfers.
Unless you plan on sticking to circular walks that begin and end at the pub, wheels will be essential for ferreting out local farm shops, strolling the grounds at Stourhead or surveying the scene in Bruton. There’s free parking on-site (and two electric car chargers).
Worth getting out of bed for
If you’ve remembered your Merrell’s, there are six world-class walks that start and finish right at the pub’s door – just ask for the hand-drawn walking map and take a quick assessment of how much pasta and cider you’d like to burn off. If you opt for the short but heart-quickening hike up the ridge towards the Beacon, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views over the Somerset Levels. Go a bit further to reach Cadbury Castle, a hill fort (the actual castle is long gone, unfortunately) that’s sometimes rumoured to be the site of King Arthur’s Camelot thanks to the archaeological discovery here of what was once a great feasting hall. A twenty-minute drive away, the National Trust property of Stourhead has world-famous landscaped gardens with Neoclassical temples, grottoes, Palladian bridges and a show-stopping lake.
Art lovers should visit the local Hauser & Wirth gallery, the Somerset outpost of the renowned collectors, which has sister spaces in London, Zürich, Hong Kong, New York and Los Angeles. There’s a sculpture garden and regularly changing exhibitions.
You’ll need to pay £45 for a yearly membership to explore the endless acres of The Newt in Somerset, but inside you’ll find a working farm, a cider bar, a butcher, farm shop, ice-cream parlour, interiors boutique, ornamental gardens and enchanted trails for little Smiths (plus 3,000 of their namesake amphibians living in the ponds).
For a longer day trip, drive 40 minutes to see the spectacular beasts (lions, zebras, giraffes and crocodiles) at Longleat Safari Park or take in the blustery beauty of the Jurassic Coast.
If you do visit Hauser & Wirth on Durslade Farm, treat yourself to something to eat at the Roth Bar & Grill, the perfect pitstop for tomahawk steaks, house-made charcuterie and rainbow-coloured salads, all reared and/or made on-site. In Bruton, book ahead for lunch or dinner At the Chapel, a former church that’s now a restaurant with stunning south-facing views through ecclesiastical windows (leave time to shop in the attached winestore and artisan bakery).
In the next-door village of Sandford Orcas, you’ll find the Story Pig, a family-owned farm and butcher with the highest ethical and welfare standards. Visit their Lavender Keepers’ cafe for coffee, sausage rolls, quiches and sweet treats served in a teepee. And just five minutes up the road is Teals, a food market, restaurant and lifestyle shop serving Somerset on a plate with a side of apple orchard views.