South West

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From the mouth of the Severn estuary down to the Isles of Scilly, the South West of England is noted for its seaside resorts, Dartmoor, fishing villages and picturesque scenery. Cornwall is popular with surfers, whereas Somerset is noted for its cider. Dorset includes the seaside resort and shoppers' paradise of Bournemouth, whereas Weymouth is noted for the Jurassic Coast. It also includes the bustling city of Bristol, historic Bath and natural wonders such as Cheddar Gorge and the Cotswolds.

The main roads into South West England include the M5 motorway and the A38 from the West Midlands, the A35 from Southampton, plus the M4 motorway from London and South Wales. By rail, services from London Paddington continue to Bristol Temple Meads, Cheltenham Spa, Exeter St. David's, Plymouth and Penzance railway stations. Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street stations also have regular services to Bournemouth and Bristol Temple Meads, some of which continuing to the Devon and Cornwall seaside resorts.

Cheltenham is an elegant town, one which rose in popularity as a fashionable spa resort. Today, it is known for its bustling shopping streets and its racecourse. Every March sees the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is a major attraction for horse racing fanatics. Within the South West, there is also regular race meetings at Newbury, Wincanton, Salisbury, Taunton and Newton Abbot. All of them, and Cheltenham's racecourse, are blessed with fine hospitality suites, making them suitable conference venues.

If historical conference venues are more your scene, the Gloucester Waterways Museum, the Engineers House and Brunel's Old Station may fit the bill. The Engineers House is set in picturesque grounds in Clifton, near Bristol, and was once home to the Mayor of Bristol. Brunel's Old Station could claim to be the city's most accessible venues, adjoining the present day Temple Meads railway station.

The South West of England's seaside resorts attract millions of visitors each year. Its most popular resorts include Bournemouth, Torquay, Weymouth, Minehead, Newquay and Weston-super-Mare. Torquay is one of three resorts which make up Torbay (the other two being Paignton and Brixham), known colloquially as 'The English Riviera'. A fair number also have conference venues; The Riviera Centre in Torquay and the Bournemouth International Centre are notable examples. Theatrical entertainment is well represented, not only in the city of Bristol, but in a great many of its seaside resorts.

Towards Devon and Cornwall, there is stunning scenery, picturesque coastlines and historical attractions. Just off the A38 is Dartmoor National Park, punctuated by moorland and woodland scenery. Bordering onto Somerset in North Devon is the Exmoor National Park, close to Ilfracombe, Tiverton and Minehead. Other great natural wonders include Cheddar Gorge, Wookey Hole Cave, the Cotswold Hills and Dorset's Jurassic Coast. Its famed coastline includes Chesil Beach, Portland Bill, Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.

Other attractions include Buckfast Abbey, The Tate Gallery in St. Ives and The Eden Project. Buckfast was first established as a Monastic Settlement in 1018 with the current site of the Abbey Church reputed to be set out in the 13th century. Eden's golf ball style biomes are very much a modern day icon, which includes the largest indoor rainforest in the world and a Mediterranean biome. Looking out to the sands of St. Ives, the Tate gallery is also home to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

The above three attractions are also unique conference venues. If your ideal venue involves steam trains, look no further than the South Devon and Dartmouth Steam railways. Both preserved lines are available for corporate functions. The South West of England is also home to the Swanage Line and the West Somerset Railway. The latter is the UK's longest preserved line. If you're looking for somewhere more unusual to hire, consider the Bovington Tank Museum, where you could add a guided tour to your visit.

If you're looking for somewhere spectacular to host your next conference, the South West of England is well worth considering. The scope for post-conference activities and its choice of venues are immense.

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