Walk - Worthy Wood
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- Leaving the car park, turn right and walk towards the quay. Take the Coast Path signposted to Culbone, to the left between the buildings, and follow it up around the fields and along the track to the lane ahead. Turn right onto the lane and follow it up to Worthy.
Although the harbour at Porlock Weir is now used primarily for pleasure craft, it was originally a fishing harbour. In the nineteenth century it was improved, to allow cargo vessels to come ashore, and there was a thriving trade with Wales, exporting agricultural products, as well as tan bark, charcoal and pit props, and bringing in coal, limestone and cement. The coal and limestone were burnt in lime kilns across Porlock Bay, on the shingle ridge at Bossington Beach, to produce fertiliser for crop-growing.
- Turn left onto the bridleway before you reach the toll house, and follow it gently uphill for about three quarters of a mile, to where it comes to an end as the woodland opens out into fields.
Although (walkers will be relieved to know) the worst of the hill-climbing is now over for this walk, the hill itself carries on rising for another 600 feet, to Porlock Common, three quarters of a mile or so beyond. Hawkcombe Head, on the edge of Porlock Common, is an important prehistoric site, possibly dating as far back as 7000 BC, where flint tools were manufactured during the Mesolithic (middle Stone Age) period. There is also evidence of tree clearance from around the same time, giving rise to the theory that there may have been early sheep farming here.
It is not thought that the flint for the tools was sourced locally, however, and it has been suggested that this might have been transported from Croyde Bay and Baggy Point, further down the North Devon coast.
Flint artefacts have also been found down in the area of submarine forest at the foot of the hill, in Porlock Bay. Rising sea levels have encroached inland around Porlock Vale, and the area around Porlock Weir would have been part of the land during the Mesolithic period. A survey was carried out to locate the area of peat and submarine forest remains, and concluded that the site extends for an area some 140 metres east to west, by 120 metres north to south, and mostly lies to the south of the breakwater, which is exposed at low tide. All that remains of the forest, however, are pieces of tree stumps, small trunks and branches embedded in the peat deposits.
- When the bridleway runs out, turn left onto the track which appears to double back on itself through the woods, and follow it around the top of the hill to where it meets the fields on the right. Ignore the tracks to your right at both Westcott Lane and Eastcott Lane, and the bridleway and paths dropping downhill to your right, staying with your track until you come to the footpath on your right, leading to Eastcott Bridge and Birchanger Bridge, just after Eastcott Lane.
- Turn right onto this footpath and follow it about half a mile through the woods to Birchanger Bridge, ignoring the track downhill to your left at Eastcott Bridge.
- At the bridge turn left onto the bottom road and follow it around through the woods above Hawknest Combe.
- After about a quarter of a mile there is a small path to your left, heading steeply downwards towards the sea before it bends sharply to the right, towards West Porlock.
- About a hundred yards further on, another path leads away to the left, at the bottom joining the main path through the woods from Porlock. Turn left onto this bottom path and follow it to the footbridge at Porlockford. Here turn right onto the lane and take the footpath downhill to the road.
- Turn left onto the lane to Porlock Weir and follow it down to the village, turning right beyond the church to return to the car park.
There are a number of restaurants and cafés in Porlock and Porlock Weir, or try the 13th century Ship Inn near the car park, with real ales.