The few islands which rise out of these marshes are thus unusually conspicuous, and have been especially attractive to settlements since earliest times. The most famous among them is the lovely Isle of Avalon with the town and ruins of Glastonbury. This rises to a lofty Tor from which the most wonderful view of these fens is to be had. Further west Brent Knoll has an even greater isolation, overlooking the coast from Brean Down to Burnham and beyond. Both of these islands are really outliers of Lias limestones and shales, which formerly rose out of the gentle valley whose submergence has formed the marshes. The nearly horizontal beds are traceable in the form of the hills, each harder band forming a terrace on the hillsides. The Isle of Wedmore is larger, and like the hills south of Wells it is partly built of red marl, although Lias limestones form the western part. Westwards the red marl country may be traced to the Vale of Taunton Deane, the rich agricultural region surrounding Taunton and Wellington, where villages and farms are more numerous and more evenly distributed than in the fenlands. The same red country extends by the Quantocks and other valleys near Frome ; elsewhere rivers have not yet cut completely through the newer rocks, and will be unable to do so unless a further elevation occurs. Some of the tributary streams show features very closely resembling those of the Avon. The Frome has attractive gorges where it cuts into the Pennant Sandstone at Stapleton, Frenchay and Winterbourne. The Chew and its tributaries are likewise entrenched near Pensford, while the Trym streams occupy astonishingly deep valleys cut in the Mountain Limestone near Westbury-on-Trym. It is clear that all these features are of similar origin, and it is fairly certain that all are to be attributed to the partial superimposing of the river system on a region of complex structure. To turn briefly to that part of the Somerset plain which lies south of the Mendips, we may notice that it extends westwards and southwards to the foot of the Quantock Hills and beyond in a narrow belt to Minehead and the borders of Exmoor. Much of this country is underlain by the red Keuper Marls, which here as always form land of low elevation. Included in the area are the great flats of the Somerset ' moors ', the fenlands of the west where silt and peat now fill an ancient valley. In these wide green marshes, crossed by the main road from Bristol to Bridgwater, habitations are few and are almost confined to the borders of the willow-fringed roads which are raised slightly near the coast, but for many miles the cliffs are formed of Lias shales and limestones, which around Kilve and Watchet give rise to low blue-grey cliffs much like those on the opposite coast of South Wales, where the similar rocks in the Vale of Glamorgan emphasise again the former continuity of these regions. ----

Reference Countryside Agency/Simon Read walking the Surrey Hills as part of a landscape assessment project
http://www.publicartonline.org.uk/casestudies/environmental/surreyhills/essay.php

“I am aware that Surrey is a busy place and that perhaps we owe a great deal to the relative poorness of the upland soil for such a wealth of open heath and woodland. Obviously, there are other factors which come to bear here, such as planning regulations and green-belt in order to keep it open. However, there must be some kind of precedent for such a consistent landscape. It is interesting to me that much of what is considered a paradigm for a typical English landscape should be found in the counties immediately surrounding London, as though the City would hold up a Claude Glass to see an image of an ideal England. What is being very aggressively conserved here is a certain type of countryside, a notion or symbol even. This area has looked towards London for its livelihood, wealth and identity for a very long time, however when it was not so heavily settled and was composed of smaller nuclear communities there appears to have been more of a balance between the identity of each place and its status as a satellite of London. The very expression "Home Counties" underscores a centripetal relationship with the capital which through this century has become much more direct. The landscape is created and sustained by the city it serves; its identity now may be derived from those who may be in it when they are not working, rather than when they are. Perhaps this is what bothers me; that the principle of conservation becomes one of holding an area at a point of its development which is seen as desirable, but which because of the fallibility of human memory is dreadfully approximate”.=