Walk - Culvercliffe Walk

1.6 miles (2.5 km)

Quay West Car Park, Minehead - TA24 5UN Quay West car park, Minehead

Easy - Pavement, flat tarmac paths, no stiles or kissing gates

A very easy walk, popular with tourists as well as local dog-walkers, meandering gently around Culver Cliff Green, a lush parkland nestling in the lee of Minehead's thickly wooded landmark, North Hill.

Checked by SWCPA Volunteer Geoff Garfield- May 2020

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Yarn Market Hotel

Situated in the medieval village of Dunster within Exmoor National Park, we specialise in walking holidays and special interest breaks. Our independent 3* family run hotel prides itself on friendly service.

The Beach Hotel Minehead

The Beach Hotel is the perfect place for your South West Getaway, Apprentice run social enterprise, with a little help from us!

Exmoor Character Cottages

Four luxury self-catering cottages in the heart of Exmoor. VisitEngland rated as family, walkers and dog friendly. Gardens. 3 hot tubs, 3 woodburners. Parking.

YHA Minehead

YHA Hostel including private rooms and shared rooms

Bossington Hall Luxury B&B

With breathtaking views and 9 superb rooms, Tennis and Squash within the 8 acres, and a private bar for the lazy evening.
You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Flapjackery Minehead

Stop off and treat yourself or stock up for your trip along the Path with these delicious, award winning, gluten free flapjacks in a variety of flavours.

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

This is the perfect walk for a short stroll after dinner, when the bay lies luminous in the evening light, or on a hot afternoon when the sea breezes are pleasantly cooling and the many cafés and tearooms in the town are there for subsequent refreshment!

Before you start the walk, take time to look around the lifeboat station, which is open to visitors during the holiday season.

  1. The walk starts beside the lifeboat station, and there is plenty of parking here, and elsewhere along the quay. From here, turn right up the road, away from the town, and make your way along it to the roundabout.

Minehead has been a settlement from the very beginning of human history in the UK: indeed flint axe-heads and scrapers have been found here from as far back as 12000 years ago (and the pelvis from a woolly rhinoceros at least twice that age!). It is thought that at that time, the place known as Minehead today was many miles inland. Evidence suggests that during the last Ice Age the sea was 40 metres lower here than it is now, and 19th century geologist Sir Charles Lyell claimed that the area which is now the Bristol Channel was a wooded valley stretching from here to Wales (visible across the water), with the River Severn running through it. Fossilised insects, pollens and seeds have been found here which show that some 6000 years ago the bay was a salt marsh, surrounded by reeds and alder woodland, and at low tide the remnants of this wood can still be seen in the submarine forest across the bay off Warren Point.

  1. Choose the path through Culvercliffe Green which stays by the shore, and follow it beside the water for about half a mile.

There are benches scattered along the path: take time to sit and listen to the shush of the sea on the pebbles and the whistle of the steam trains as they pull in on the line lovingly restored and maintained by the West Somerset Railway. The shiny white marquee-like mushrooms across the water are of course Butlin's, a holiday camp here since 1962 and a first venue for many hopeful musicians, most notably the rock band Status Quo, formed here following a chance meeting between guitarists Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt.

Right back in neolithic times, fishing was an important part of human survival, and the town's maritime history grew from there. It has been an busy port since the Domesday Book, and by the sixteenth century it was reckoned to have more ships suitable for deployment in Henry VIII's navy than any other port in the Bristol Channel. A few years later it even had a Port Officer like Bristol. The tall ships docking at the stone quay, built in 1661, would have carried wool and fish, and later coal, iron, livestock, beans and wine too, to be transported around the land by packhorse. Daniel Defoe (author of Robinson Crusoe), staying here a century later, called it the best port and the safest harbour in the whole of Somerset.

In the mid eighteenth century, “taking the waters” became fashionable, and Minehead was among those towns attracting visitors seeking to do this. The arrival of the railway in the middle of the nineteenth century confirmed the town's status as a popular holiday resort, which it remains today.

  1. Where the path approaches the woods, continuing will take you steeply uphill and onto a longer, slightly harder walk (see Culver Cliff Woodland Walk). Instead, turn left and follow the new path back along (but below) the very edge of the woodland, until you come once more to the roundabout, from where you can return to the lifeboat station.

From here, why not carry on down Quay Street and savour the history all around you in the picturesque fishermen's cottages?

Pause a while in the Old Ship Aground, but before you do, take a peek at St Peter's fishermen's chapel, next door, built in the seventeenth century by merchant and churchwarden Robert Quirke in gratitude for surviving a storm at sea. The chapel was used as a store for wood and timber, when it was known as Gibraltar Cellar. Locals whisper that it was also used a depository for other, less legal, goods brought here by smugglers.

Spare a thought for Ma Leakey's son, presumably also well-versed in surviving storms, as his mother's evil ghost was said to whistle up a storm every time he neared the port. Known as the Whistling Ghost, she hung out in The Mermaid Inn around the time that Quirke was building his almshouses in the town, (also in thanksgiving for surviving the storm), and she made impromptu appearances to many an honest townsman, including a doctor of medicine, whom she kicked in the stomach for having failed to hand her over a stile.

The Coast Path starts right here, in Quay Street, and the spot is marked by a giant pair of hands clasping a map of the path: a sculpture made by Owen Cunningham of Derbyshire to the design of Minehead art student Sarah Ward.

Public transport

For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.



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