Earth : Europe : Britain and Ireland : United Kingdom : England : West Country
The West Country is an unofficial name for southwest region of England although Cornwall is a distinct entity in its own right and one of the modern-day Celtic nations. Its main draws for travellers are its countryside and coastlines, but it is home to several cities as well.
The following counties are generally considered to form the West Country:
Cities and towns
The exact boundary of the West Country is unclear, which is often a source of heated debate between the different counties, many of which have strong identities. However, a good definition of the West Country is the coastline directly south of Wales across the Bristol Channel (on a clear day Wales can be seen from most of Somerset, North Devon and even the Bude area around Cornwall), which is Somerset, North Devon and North Cornwall, and the coastline directly north of Brittany and Normandy (South Cornwall, South Devon and West Dorset).
What can be said is that it is an area that shares many interesting cultural similarities. Most noticeably the dialect; in the West Country, valleys are called combes or nants and plimsolls are called daps or dappers (like its neighbour in Wales).
The West Country historically had strong immediate trading links with Wales, Brittany, Ireland and the Basque Country, and it shares many similarities with these areas (cider production, pastry snacks, a love of fish dinners, smuggling, wrecking).
West Country dialects can vary but share many similarities, most noticeably the rhotic pronunciation (the R in words like "bar" and "pork" is pronounced) and 'drawled' manner of speech, often stereotyped as rural or pirate speech. They can also be found in neighbouring counties, but they are more uncommon due to the influence of large population shifts out of London.
West Country people are often portrayed as warm, welcoming, forgiving and easygoing folk, and certainly, that reputation has helped enhance the tourist industry. Other aspects of the culture include an almost religious obsession with rough farm produced scrumpy cider. Many folk songs about the juice of the apple are widely known and will be readily preformed by the locals.
West Country people are often portrayed in the British media as simple country folk, but be aware that people are not comfortable with this Londoncentric view and might well find such comparisons extremely offensive .
Probably the cheapest way of getting to the South West, National Express and Megabus operate many services into the region, including routes from airports.
First Great Western operates most services into and around the region along with South West Trains (which cover mainly the east of the region) and CrossCountry, which provide long-distance services from the north.
The M5, M4, A303 and A31 provide motorway and trunk road access to South West England.
Bournemouth, Bristol, Exeter and Newquay all have airports with services from the rest of the UK and abroad.
Stonehenge - one of the world's most famous prehistoric monuments, in Wiltshire.
Roman Baths - Roman spa complex constructed on hot springs, now a museum, in Bath.
The South West, with its long Jurassic coastline, is a haven for tourists, and many tourist attractions can be found here. One of the most popular attractions is the Eden Project in Cornwall.
Other attractions include Crealy Great Adventure Parks, with two locations.