Friday 6 May 2016
Weston-Super-Mare to Burnham-on-Sea
Haven Holiday Village (camping)
It looked like it was going to be another hot and sunny day when I left Claire’s house. I headed out of Weston via the small village of Uphill, which has an ruined Norman church atop its hill.
Naturally I climbed the hill to take in the view. What a fantastic spot, with views back over Weston, inland over Somerset (which looked mostly flat with little conical hills), and out to Brean and Brean Down.
As I dropped off the top of Uphill hill I walked over Walborough Down (which is very small) and stood on the little grass hump in the middle that was a Bronze Age burial mound.
After such a great start then came 2 hours of boring, and dangerous, road walking to reach Brean. North Somerset council has not yet sorted a path across the Bleadon Level and a bridge is required to cross the River Axe. Without a path I was reduced to walking the narrow, winding, minor road, which is a main driving route to Brean. I did not feel safe as cars swerved to avoid me. Luckily there was a path some of the way. Unluckily that path was impassable so I had to backtrack and add an extra mile on the road. It was not fun.
Brean is a town full of caravan parks and unusually, many of them seemed to take touring caravans. I stopped at the first one because there was a cafe and I needed a drink and some food. I got chatting to some of the caravaners and discovered that although they all have touring caravans, most people bring them here in March and take them away again in October. So not really using them for touring then, just as cheap second homes with communal facilities and a community spirit. The man I chatted to was from Bristol and retired so he only pops home every couple of weeks during the summer, and not even to mow the lawn as he lives in a council house so the council do that for him. He seemed happy.
After a short break from the heat I hit the beach at Brean. It is a very long, lovely sandy beach but there’s just one problem, there’s no sea! The tide was out and it looked like the mud flats stretched as far out as Steep Holm in the Bristol Channel.
I headed along the beach, past all the parked cars with people sat on chairs next to them eating picnics or throwing balls for their dogs, and made for Brean Down at the end of the beach. I noted that where some seaside towns have yacht clubs, Brean has a landyacht club.
Brean Down is a Carboniferous limestone outcrop at the western end of the Mendip Hills. I climbed over 300 steps to the top but it was worth it. It was too hazy for good photos but I could see for miles: across to Wales, Flat and Steep Holm, Weston, all along Bridgwater Bay and far inland. Wow.
At the end of Brean Down was the remains of a fort built in 1870 to repeal any potential French invasion. It certainly seemed to me that Milford Haven was much better protected than the Bristol Channel.
I had to walk back along Brean beach, past Berrow, and on to Burnham-on-Sea; about 6 miles along the sand.
Burnham sits at the entrance to the River Parrett and once had 3 lighthouses to guide ships up the Parrett to the port of Bridgwater. The best was a 9-legged wooden tower on the flats.
I camped at the Haven Holiday Village, which seemed very busy. I was able to launder my sweaty clothes before an evening out. Carole and Ollie, who I met on Skomer, live in Somerset and drove to Burnham to take me out for the evening. It was great to see them, and I was very impressed by Ollie’s excellent puffin photos from Skomer.