156a Burnham-on-sea to Brean

There are plans for a continuous coastal path to link Minehead to Brean Down. Until then, coastal walkers must find their own route. But I don’t anticipate any problems as I walk from Burnham-on-Sea to Brean. My map shows a footpath/cycle track running along the beach. And its a lovely morning for a walk on the sands.

Ruth on sea front, Burnham on Sea, walking the north Somerset coast

I wave goodbye to the shortest pier in Britain, and head northwards.

Brean Down is a finger of land pointing out to sea, just visible on the horizon. But my most immediate landmark is a weird white tower on stilts, standing marooned on the sand.

strange lighhouse on stilts, Ruth walking through Burnham on seaLater I learn this is one of Burnham-on-Sea’s three lighthouses, and the only one still functioning.

Apart from the usual dog walkers, my other companions this morning are the wide sands and rolling brown waves. Behind the distant blocks of Hinkley Point Power Station is the high ground of the Quantock Hills – and I look back along the coastline of West Somerset towards Watchet and Minehead, both lost in the haze.

 dogs, seabirds, and Hinkley Point, Ruth walking the coast in North Somerset

I pass an occasional fisherman. Such an active sport!

fishermen, Brean sands, Ruth walking the Somerset coastline
The beach is amazing. Long and wide and unspoilt. Behind the dunes, according to my map, is the coastal road with holiday camps, golf courses and caravans. None of this is visible from the beach.

empty sands, walking the coast towards Brean, Burnham on Sea
The sands are called Berrow flats, and merge with Brean beach at the far end. It would be a great place for a holiday, if only the sea wasn’t so shallow, the tidal range so great, and the sand so brown.

The waves look as if they are made from frothy chocolate.

 waves like chocolate milk, Ruth walking the coast towards Brean Down

In places the sand takes on the consistency of mud, furrowed with strange patterns from the tide. Sandbanks provide resting places for gulls and wading birds.

 mud and birds and Hinkley Point, Ruth Livingstone

With few distractions I make rapid progress. Slowly I draw nearer to Brean Down. And ahead on the sand I see a row of parked vans and someone on the beach is flying… a kite?

heading to Brean, Ruth walking the coast, North Somerset

As I get nearer, I realise it is a model airplane. With the sun behind it, I fail to get a decent photograph. But when I draw level with the row of vans I can see there is a collection of remote-controlled planes. A gathering of enthusiasts. Some planes are huge.

model plane gathering, Brean, Ruth walking the coast

Further along the beach and I see a group of walkers coming towards me. A rambling club on an outing? But they have a lot of dogs with them.

group of walkers with dogs, Ruth walking the coast to Brean Downs

As I walk through them, I realise they are all beagle hounds. I wonder if this is regular get-together.

Beagle walkers, Ruth walking the coast, Brean, Somerset

The northern end of the beach seems more popular with holiday makers. Or perhaps it’s just that people are waking up. Some brave souls are even prepared to paddle, although I think this trio would be more comfortable on the football stands.

 brave paddlers, Brean beach, Ruth's coastal walk in Somerset

The beach doubles as a car park and a bridleway.

 Brean beach, Ruth walking the coast, North Somerset

Officially it is also a cycling route, but I have yet to meet a cyclist. My husband refused to cycle here, claiming the sand might damage his precious bike. The horses are enjoying it.

 horse riders, Brean, Ruth's coast walking, North Somerset

And, with the wind blowing stiff from the sea, I meet a solitary kite surfer. He is having trouble controlling the kite. I watch for a while, but he is still struggling to control the beast after ten minutes and I have walking to do.

kitesurfer, Ruth's coastal walk, Brean, Somerset
But, first, I turn inland and come through the dunes to the beach road, to have a quick lunch of cider and crisps at the pub in Brean.

Then, onwards. I pick up my pace. Brean Down is looming ahead.

 Brean Down getting nearer, Ruth walking the coast

And as I draw nearer, I see a long and steep flight of steps. That’s the way to the top. I’m glad I had lunch first.

Brean Down, and steps going up, Ruth Livingstone's coast walking

To be continued…


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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11 Responses to 156a Burnham-on-sea to Brean

  1. mariekeates says:

    That lighthouse is really strange, I’ve never seen anything like it before. Despite the brown sand it seems a busy beach

  2. This is my favourite stretch of beach within the local area – in fact, I think I once read that the full stretch (from Bridgwater Bay to Brean Down) is one of the longest in Europe! On some of the beaches around here, dogs are banned and so Brean is again quite a popular place to be.

    ‘Frothy Chocolate’ is by far the most pleasant phrase I have ever heard to describe the water that continues up and beyond ‘Weston-super-Mud’! 😉

    That short inland lighthouse is now somebody’s home but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen the third now, thinking about it. Those dunes also conceal a golf course and a rather pleasant nature reserve of green-ness. Somewhere between the light house and Brean is a Norwegian ship-wreck from a Century ago. It’s only visible during a low-tide and I’ve not yet been fortunate enough to have seen it.

    Oh, and I swear that fisherman is ALWAYS there!!! 😀

  3. Pingback: 156b Brean Down to River Axe | Ruth's Coastal Walk (UK)

  4. Doreen Velleman says:

    Will the disabled be able to go along the coastal path ?

    • I guess it depends how disabled you are. It’s perfectly possible to go from Burnham-on-sea to the base of Brean Down by wheelchair, I think, as there are roads and paved paths, if I recall correctly. However, many of the existing coastal paths are rough and you have to be prepared for grass, sand, shingle and rocks. I’m not sure how accessible the final path will be when it’s complete.

  5. Doreen Velleman says:

    There is not a path along parts of Berrow/Brean. It is very dangerous for a walker let alone a disabled person. The road is very busy in summer months . Also very narrow.

  6. Lucy Taylor says:

    Hi Ruth,
    I am developing a code of conduct for the Severn Estuary and would love to feature your photo of horse riders along Burnham beach. Would you be happy for us to use your image?
    We would of course credit you for use of your image.

    Many thanks,
    Lucy Taylor
    Severn Estuary Partnership

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