I start this walk from Worle and intend to head to Weston-super-Mare. Once again I am travelling on a cheap “advance” train ticket, which costs me less than £20 for the return journey, but the downside is I have a deadline to meet. So I’m planning to at least get as far as Weston-super-Mare (where I have booked my return ticket from) but in fact made it as far as Uphill.
My train connections work fine and I’m glad to get on the train to Worle at Bristol since it is, once again, full with standing passengers by the time we reach Worle. 2 carriage trains are just too small for this line! It is once again a lovely sunny day, and remains so for the whole day and despite the time of year is not too cold either, I’m very lucky with the weather.
I leave Worle station and on reaching the main road turn right by the retail park. This time I take a slightly different route keeping with Bristol Road to cross the railway line and then taking the first left and left again into Station Road. I make only one wrong turning this time to reach Bourton Lane and once over the river Banwell I turn left on the footpath that follows field edges heading north parallel to the river.
As the houses end on the left I accidently turn left on a footpath heading back west to the houses but soon realise mistake and pick up the correct path heading due north to Ebdon Lane Farm. I turn left on the road and follow it to Ebdon Court Farm. Although there is no pavement there is little traffic. At the junction just past the farm I turn left into Ebdon Road into the hamlet of Ebdon. This crosses over the River Banwell again on a little bridge and then turn right on the track signed for Ebdon Farm, a bridleway. This goes past the farm and becomes a track between fields which soon comes into the open fields. The signs are poor and I struggle a bit to find the correct route but soon make it out onto the road at Collum Lane. I’m heading for Woodspring Priory and the headland of Middle Hope. Although there isn’t a path marked a check on good old Google Maps suggested there was access to area of access land here.
On reaching the road, I turn right heading for Woodspring Prior. When the track forks I’m pleased to note a National Trust sign for “Car Park and Footpath to Coast”, so clearly this is a permitted route to the coast. I pass the car park on the left and then turn left on the path leading up to the eastern end of Middle Hope. I find the geography of Somerset very interesting. Much of the country is very hilly, with the Quantock and Mendip Hills over much of the country and Exmoor at the north west, but much of the rest is very flat, mixed in with drainage ditches and rivers, which is the landscape I’ve been walking on until now. Yet inter-mixed within these flat areas are a few hills, otherwise completley isolated from the flat land around them. Middle Hope is one and is almost and island. The path soon begins to climb onto Middle Hope and I follow along the eaatern edge and am soon treated to lovely views over Woodspring Bay and onwards to Clevedon. There are a few boats moored in the muddy waters at the mouth of the River Banwell, which seems to becomes much larger as it reaches the coast.
At the eastern end of the headland is what looks to be an old military area with a few huts and a fence between me and the huts. I take a few photos through the fence and soon reach the coast on the northern side of this little peninsula. This is an area of Open Access Land and I’m pleased to find a good path along the coast, just behind the bracken and gorse. The views over to Wales are excellent and the sea is very calm. The headland is quite hilly and gaining a bit of height here means lovely views.
Soon I reach a little shingle and pebble beach and climb over a ladder over the dry stone wall to reach it.
I round the beach and enjoy the view back. Although close to Weston-super-Mare this area feels very remote and is unspoilt and beautiful.
I soon reach the very western tip of the island which becomes rocky and craggy, Swan Point on my map. Here the views are wonderful, over Sand Bay ahead of me and I can also see the two islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm out in the Bristol Channel, probably a continuation of the Mendip Hills which has become flooded to form islands.
Looking back on the headland it reminds me a little of the Malvern Hills, a narrow hill with a good ridge path along. Soon I descend towards Sand Bay, although I don’t see much sand.
Instead the north half of the beach has become salt marsh with mud beyond the low water mark, it doesn’t looks very appealing. Thankfully the salt marsh soon gives way to sand, at least at the high tide line although signs warn of Sinking Mud if I go any further out.
This is a common problem with the beaches this close up the Severn that once the tide goes out it becomes mud. There are soon houses and caravans along the back of the beach as well as the coast road and the car parks mean the beach is soon quite busy, mostly with dog walkers.
I can soon see the rather sad remains of Birnbeck Pier ahead.
I’ve been following the beach but at the south end of the beach the road turns away from the beach. There is a footpath up onto the top of Worlebury Hill, the large wooded hill I can see ahead. I know from past experience this is quite a nice walk, but views are also limited. I decide instead to make my way along the shoreline because if this gets difficult I hope I can get onto the road that goes around the edge of the hill instead.
The tide is low and I suspect this would not be possible at low tide, but I soon see the road ahead is very busy, with a crash barrier on the coastal side of the road, and it’s also higher up than I imagined and with no pavement, so it doesn’t look a sensible alternative. My walk around the shoreline starts well but I soon find I’m struggling over rocks and pebbles at the shoreline. Worse as this is below the tide mark they are covered in a thin coating of slippery mud and the beach is, in places turning to mud as well. I soon regret this decision but having come so far I decide to continue in the hope things improve. At least the tide is still going out so I don’t have to worry about getting cut off.
I’m very grareful to soon see Birnbeck Pier ahead.
Rounding the corner I can make my way over the rocks and under this derelict pier. I like piers and it’s a shame to see this one is in such a bad way. I last visited Weston-super-Mare in 1998 and remember this pier being derelict then. I had hoped something might have been done since but it appears not, although there is a walkway part way along the pier leading to the Lifeboat station, which is still used. The pier is also unusual in that it links to what would be an island, Birnbeck Island and hence only the middle section of the pier has water under it at high tide, but in this case there is no water under it at all. Some youths have gathered under the pier and are throwing stones at the metal supports, but thankfully they stop to let me walk past. Once under the pier I’m glad to see the walls above meaning I can soon reach a proper path and won’t have to walk back.
At the next beach I can go onto the promenade which I do, glad to be off the un-even rocks along the back of the muddy beach. Soon I reach the Marine Lake at the back of Knightstone Island and there is a walkway (also a footpath) on the coastal side of the lake which I take. Knightstone Island itself looks to have a lot of money spent, with the fine stone buildings restored to a I think a mixture of shops and flats.
Coming on the Weston side I have a wondeful view around the bay and to the recently re-built Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare. The last time I was here the previous pier stood but it became a victim of a fire. I’m glad to see that unlike other piers, the owners quickly demolished the ruins and built a new and fine pier, which is now open again. Other resorts (such as Hastings) should learn from this! I notice at Knightstone Harbour a couple of boats moored up and a poster about trips to Flat Holm Island. I decided to look into this for a future trip, as it looks an interesting place to explore.
I continue past the harbour to the beach at Weston-super-Mare. When I last visited the town it was looking rather run-down. I’m very pleased to see that in the intervening years the town seems to have undergone a refurbishment. The sea front is now in lovely condition with new paving and the buildings alongside, such as the Winter Gardens are looking beautiful. It seems to have worked because even though it’s only February, the promenade is busy with people enjoying themselves and taking in the sea air.
I soon reach the pier and am pleased to see the original building at the landward end has been retained. I walk along the new pier, as I have fond memories of the old pier which burnt down in 2008.
I’m pleased to see the pier is both modern but with features in keeping with the old pier. There are two walkways either side of a central glass enclosed walkway, meaning you can enjoy the sea air on a nice day and walk undercover when the weather is not so good, a good idea. The end of the pier is a mixture of arcades, rides and function rooms. I enjoy views over the town and beach from the peir. It’s worth noting that because the sea goes out so far here, the end of the pier is often still not over the water unless it is near high tide.
Returning to the promenade I decided to continue my walk along the beach instead because the tide is far enough out there is plenty of hard sand to walk on. I soon pass the sea life centre on it’s small pier. The beach is wide and I see a feature I remember from childhood, the car parks on the beach itself. I remember the excitement of being able to drive onto the beach and then my parents worrying if the car would bog down in the sand (it didn’t of course).
Soon the houses end and the beach is backed by dunes, it is very beautiful and it must be wonderful to have all this space. Part of the beach is being used for sand yachting which looks fun.
Soon I reach the south end of the beach at Uphill which is quite hilly which I wasn’t expecting but should have been given the name! Another outcrop of the Mendips I expect. I head the muddy River Axe that seperates me from Brean and the large headland of Brean Down. There is a footpath marked going down to the river and I wonder if it might be possible to cross here. One look confirms it, there is no way I can get across even if the water is low enough it is far too muddy and I’m sure you’d sink into the mud trying. I will instead have to walk around the estuary.
I head back along the road to find where the bus from Uphill to Weston goes from. As I’m walking it comes towards me and I have a brief moment of panic before I realise it’s the journey from Weston and the bus waits for a while before turning round. I therefore get on the bus (route W5) at the start of it’s route and have a fairly quick journey to Weston-super-Mare to catch the train home from the station there. The station is a pleasant station with attractive buildings and some original features. It has been a lovely walk and very lucky with the weather for the time of year.