Walk - Selworthy Beacon

3.9 miles (6.3 km)

Hill Road viewpoint (above Bratton Ball) - TA24 5SJ Hill Road viewpoint (above Bratton Ball)

Moderate - Tracks and footpaths, fairly flat

A gentle walk along the high ridge between Minehead and Porlock, dotted with ancient cairns and burial mounds, with breathtaking views in all directions. In autumn the heathland is bright with banks of purple heather dotted with flaming gorse bushes.

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.

Exmoor Country House, Porlock

Beautiful Guest House within Exmoor National Park in the enchanting village of Porlock. Evening dinner every night except Sunday.

Sparkhayes Farm Campsite, Porlock

Family site-5 minute walk to the village and its shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants. 20 minute walk down to the sea on the South West Coast Path.

Reines House B&B, Porlock

Benefitting from a peaceful location, yet a short walk from Porlock's numerous shops, pubs and restaurants. Locally sourced produce from sausages to tea and coffe.  Packed lunch on request.

The Cottage B&B, Porlock

A cosy, luxurious, historic and friendly B&B in the heart of the village, close to all amenities

Hillside

Bedroom with view of Hurlestone Point. Double bed, private bathroom and downstairs toilet. Can provide mattress for child. Use of kitchen for DIY breakfast. Sunny back patio.

Sea View B&B, Porlock

4 Star B&B, en suite. TV/free wi-fi. Breakfast Award: gluten free/vegetarian, local produce/homemade
bread/preserves. Drying facilities.

Glen Lodge Luxury B&B, Porlock

Luxury B&B and self catering, set amongst garden, woods and streams. Walks from the door, coming back to a hot fire, cakes and a hot tub.

Rosanda House Holiday Flats, Minehead

Comfortable self-contained self-catering flats yards from the start of the South West Coast Path. Great base from which to walk and explore Exmoor & West Somerset.

Baytree B&B, Minehead

Spacious Victorian house in a quiet central location, 5 minutes walk from the seafront and Coast Path. Extensive breakfast menu.

Sunfield B&B, Minehead

A delightful family-run guest house tucked away in a quiet corner of Minehead. Delicious home cooking and a warm welcome awaits.

Ash Farm, Porlock Hill

We are a working farm just off the Coast Path. Please call 01643 862414 for more details. Porlock Weir pick up if required. Packed lunch on request. 

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.

Exmoor Rambler, Porlock

Exmoor Rambler stocks a large range of outdor clothing & equipment-waterproofs,walking boots, walking guides,etc. Ideally suited for South West Coast Path.

Minehead Information Centre, The Beach Hotel

We offer a FREE accommodation booking service for Minehead.   We can also assist with booking accommodation in Porlock, Lynton or Lynmouth.  Our Coast Path maps and guides start from £2.00.  

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

The extensive views all around Selworthy Beacon take in Exmoor on the one hand and the Bristol Channel over to the Welsh coast on the other, with Moor Wood and Minehead Bay to the east and Bossington Hill and Porlock Bay to the west.

  1. The walk starts in the car park at the viewpoint on Hill Road above Bratton Ball, at the highest point before the road starts to drop to the first cattle grid. From here, take the path that leads due north from the car park, heading downhill towards the sea, and stay with it until it joins the Coast Path.

Like much of the Exmoor coastline, the ridge is formed of Hangman Grits – grey, green and purple sandstones – and the hillside plunges dramatically down to the shoreline. The sea can be heard as a distant rumble as it rolls the shoreline shingle back and forth far below, but it can only be reached from the wide flat valleys at either end of the ridge, where the softer rock was eroded and the sea encroached as the ice melted at the end of the last Ice Age.

  1. Turn left onto the Coast Path and follow it for about a mile and a half, through the gate to the Holnicote Estate, ignoring all the paths and tracks leading off to the left.

To your right as you enter the Holnicote Estate, the wooded valley plunging towards the sea is Grexy Combe, an especially delightful place in the spring, when the gorse is aflame and the bushes and vegetation are a vivid green, with tumbling blossom and clumps of bluebells and other wildflowers. The rugged alternative to the Coast Path wanders through this combe, as well as a couple of others, and is well worth the effort of a longer walk (see the Brockholes walk).

About three quarters of a mile further on, the metalled road which crosses your path was one of several built at the same time as the construction of the main road running along the ridge, to enable American and Canadian troops to carry out tank training during World War II (see the North Hill walk). The whole area to your right is dotted with dugouts, bunkers and platforms from this time, and a turret was found from a runaway tank in one of the combes.

  1. Ignoring this road, and the track to the left a little way beyond, continue a hundred metres or so until you come to an open area with a junction of paths.
  2. Turn sharply left, onto the bridleway which heads due east to Selworthy Beacon, and after a few hundred yards you will come to the beacon itself.

As the Bronze Age people used the highest point around for their burials and religious rites (see below), so subsequent populations too were drawn to them, for the twin purposes of keeping a lookout for invaders and raising the alarm if any were spotted. Selworthy Beacon, like nearby Dunkery Beacon, was one of many hills in the south west used for this during the sixteenth century, when French and Spanish troops threatened to invade. The number of fires lit on a beacon hill sent information about the state of affairs: one fire meant that an enemy had been spotted, two fires meant that an invasion was imminent, while three meant “It's too late, they're here!”

  1. As the path starts to descend on the far side of the beacon, ignore the track to your right, leading to the road, and stay left on the bridleway.
  2. Your bridleway hits the road itself a short distance beyond. Keep to the left of the road, on the track which runs approximately parallel to it.

There are traces of human foraging here from as far back as mesolithic times, just after the Ice Age, when hunter gatherers dropped down to the shore to do a spot of fishing to supplement their meagre diet from the hills. Within a couple of thousand years they had started to clear small patches of land to build settlements and start producing their own food, and high ground like this ridge was their favourite environment, because at a time when much of the land was covered in forest, the exposed nature of such areas meant that there were fewer trees and less vegetation to clear for this.

There are numerous Bronze Age cairns and barrows in the hills around Porlock, where these people buried their dead, and prehistoric tools have been found around the area, made from flint which they would have found down on the shoreline at either end of the ridge.

The cairns and barrows can be seen around you here: mounds rising beneath the heather, with depressions nearby where the material was excavated to form the mounds. Some of these are round “bowl” barrows, while others are elongated, with associated piles of stones and rubble scattered around.

  1. A little way along, the tank track noted on the first stretch of this walk again crosses your path on its way to the road. Ignore it, and the other paths and tracks along the way, and carry on for another half mile or so, until you finally reach the road at the cattle grid.
  2. There is a path running alongside the road here, avoiding the need to walk on the road itself, and you will shortly come to another cattle grid.  From here, carry on beside the road to return to the start of the walk.

Public transport

This walk is several miles from a bus stop.

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