Walk - Porlock Woodland Walk

4.2 miles (6.7 km)

Porlock Fire Station Car Park - TA24 8ND Porlock Fire Station car park

Moderate - Tracks, footpaths, pavements, some ascent and descent

A delightful stroll around the western side of Porlock Bay, through the woodland cloaking the hills above Porlock Weir, along the clattering pebbles of Porlock Beach and back around the edge of marshy pastures.

Porlock Beach and Weir is dog friendly. Have a look at our Top Dog Walks on the South West Coast Path for more dog friendly beaches and pubs. 

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.

Glen Lodge Luxury B&B

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.

Exmoor Country House

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

Sparkhayes Farm Campsite

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.

Sea View B&B

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

Myrtle Cottage

A comfortable thatched cottage built over 400 years ago, bursting with character and charm. All rooms en-suite, award winning breakfast.

The Cottage B&B

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

Reines House B&B

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.

Ash Farm B&B

We are a working farm just off the Coast Path. Porlock Weir pick up if required. Packed lunch on request.

Tudor Cottage

15th century Licensed Farmhouse B&B offering a hearty breakfast with beautiful views. Evening meal, packed lunch & afternoon teas by arrangement

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

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

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Leaving the fire station car park, make your way back up to the road and turn left. Carry on past the library, and turn right at the end of this road, uphill, and then right once more onto the toll road.

The landscape of this walk has inspired many poets over the years. The famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived in nearby Nether Stowey, and often walked around Porlock with his good friend William Wordsworth (also a local resident). In the middle of writing one of his best-known poems, 'Kubla Khan' - apparently in Ash Farm, on Culbone Hill (see the Culbone Church walk) - Coleridge was interrupted by the now infamous "person from Porlock" and as a result never finished it.

Their friend and fellow poet Robert Southey also spent time at Porlock, and wrote a sonnet in its praise (see the Bossington Hill walk), nonetheless bemoaning the inaccessibility caused by the high hills ringing Porlock. In the thirteenth-century Ship Inn is Southey's Corner, where he wrote some of his poetry.

Porlock Hill (the main road you've just left, you'll be pleased to know!) climbs 400 metres in less than two miles, and its steep gradient and hairpin bends have made it notorious from the early days of motoring. Its rapid descent must nonetheless have been very useful in 1899, when the Lynmouth lifeboat was summoned to the aid of 13 seamen caught in violent storms in the Bristol Channel. Unable to launch the boat in the churning waters of Lynmouth Bay, the sailors dragged it overland, up the equally severe Countisbury Hill, to Porlock, where the sheltered bay made it possible to get afloat and save those in peril out in the channel.

Another ship in trouble at sea was the ketch, Lizzy, caught in storms off Lynmouth Bay in 1854, before the town had a lifeboat. A fishing boat was sent out to her aid, and managed to rescue the crew. The weather improving the next day, a fresh crew set out with the skipper to salvage the ketch, and had almost succeeded, when it sank in shallow waters off Gore Point, just a stone's throw from Porlock Weir and safety.

    1. Take the footpath off to the right about 200 yards on, and follow it through the woods and down to West Porlock.
    2. Don't turn right into the village, but carry on along the footpath through the woods, until you come to the footbridge which leads you onto the road at Porlock Weir. Take the footpath beyond, which will drop you onto the main road.

    The hall here, now used as a village hall, was originally a military building, dating from the First World War.

    1. Turn left and travel a few hundred yards down the main road, to the footpath to your right, leading onto the beach.

    Porlock Weir, just down the road to your left, is a picturesque hamlet of old cottages, including the 17th-century Gibraltar Cottages. The first mention of it as a port was as long ago as 86 AD, when it was visited by Danes; and in 1052 Harold Godwinson (the “on his horse, with his hawk in his hand” Harold who was defeated by William the Conqueror at Hastings, probably amid great cheers from the population here) landed en route from Ireland, with nine ships, plundering Porlock and setting fire to it before proceeding to London.

    Porlock Weir and much of the land around and behind it are part of the Porlock Manor Estate, which has been linked to the Blathwayt family since 1686, when William Blathwayt, Secretary of State to King William III, married Mary Wynter, who had inherited it as one of several Somerset manors left to her.

    Since 1870 this western side of Porlock Bay has yielded a number of archaeological finds including a submarine forest of some 6000 years ago, and the fossilised bones of the Porlock Aurochs, who lived here a mere 3500 years ago (see the Bossington Landscape walk). A find from more recent times, however, has been puzzling locals since 2003. Dating from sometime between 780 and 1020 AD, it is a carved piece of wood with some as yet unidentified purpose. (Have a look at the Porlock Manor Estate website and see if you can come up with an answer for them!)

    1. Follow this footpath across the shingle as it turns inland.
    2. Do not take the footpath to the right, but carry on with the Coast Path as it runs on the seaward side of the fields, past the memorial, to Butcher's Plantation.

    The memorial is to eight American airmen who lost their lives when their bomber crashed into Bossington Hill in thick fog (see the Porlock Marshes walk).

    1. Leave the Coast Path here, turning right, back towards Porlock, and follow the footpath to Sparkhayes Lane, using the path alongside the lane as requested.
    2. Follow the path into the village, turning right along the High Street, back to the start of the walk.

    Public transport

    Porlock is easily reached by bus from Minehead, Lynmouth, Combe Martin and other towna and villages on the main A39 road as it wends its way along the Exmoor coast. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

    Parking

    Porlock Village. Postcode for sat navs: TA24 8ND

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