And this is a popular walking route, so there are plenty of people trudging up alongside me.
Normally I simply puff and pant my way to the top, but when surrounded by other people, petty pride makes me restrict my breathing. This means I end up feeling more tired and short of breath than I normally would. Silly really.
Luckily there are ‘passing stations’ on the way – useful places to stop to catch my breath and opportunities for photography. The views are stunning.
Brean Down is one of those glorious places, owned by the National Trust, and full of ancient significance, including Bronze Age burial mounds, a Romano-Celtic temple, and a Victorian Palmerston fort. At the top a wide walkway leads out to the tip of the peninsula.
It may only be 100 metres high, but it is the highest point around and there are stunning views over the surrounding Somerset Levels and the Bristol Channel. To the north is Weston-Super-Mare.
While to the south, Brean beach stretches out, with the Berrow Flats, and Burnham in the distance. The raised hump of land on the horizon may be Pawlett Hill, or the Quantocks, or both. Hard to tell.
At the highest point on Brean Down, I turn round and take a photo looking back down the peninsula, eastwards. Another stunning view along the green sward, with Weston Bay beyond.
Towards the end of Brean Down, the path becomes rugged. Narrow and rocky. I wish I’d brought my poles. I’m not the only person struggling, you have to pick your way with care. Then the path heads down to the Palmerston Fort at the tip of the peninsula.
You can walk around the fort and there is a good selection of information boards. Built in 1860 to defend against the French, it is in a commanding position overlooking the Bristol channel.
The fort was used during World War 2 to test experimental weapons. You can still see the rails used to launch a bouncing bomb. (This particular experiment was unsuccessful, as the trolley carrying the bomb crashed through the buffers and fell over the cliff.) And the concrete hut was a searchlight post.
It is windy. On my way back through the fort, I see a group of ramblers sheltering and enjoying a drinks break.
There is an easier path running along the north side of the peninsula, and I take this route as I head back, with one last photograph of the Brean Down fort and the view of Wales across the channel. The island with the lighthouse, in the distance, is called Flat Holm.
On my left are wonderful views over Weston Bay and the curving beach of Weston-Super-Mare. I should get there tomorrow.
At the end of the peninsula, I stop for a snack break and even manage a self-portrait.
Now I need to negotiate the south bank of the River Axe, which flows between me and Weston-Super-Mare.
There is a footpath along the bank, marked on my map, but after 1/2 a mile it ends abruptly at a point on the river bank. Maybe in the past there was a crossing here? Perhaps a ferry? Because on the opposite bank there is another footpath and it looks like the two were meant to join. But I am planning to cross over at the nearest bridge I come to, and that is several miles inland.
Looking along the plain I can see the raised section of the river bank. It looks like a straightforward walk. Although most of it is not a public right of way, I know other coastal walkers have walked this section before me. Yes, I’m going trespassing.
First I need to climb off the height of Brean Down, and I follow a footpath down the side of the slope. It is a scramble. Obviously hardly ever used. Steep and narrow and eroded, the path twists and turns under a low covering of bushes. I have to bend double in places. I really wish I had brought my poles.
I reach the bottom without twisting an ankle. The way ahead seems easy now. Danger signs warn me not to try to wade across the river. There have been several walkers who tried it and ran into problems.
I can understand why they tried. The river is narrow and shallow, with the tide out. It is such a small gap to cross. And such a long deviation to get to the nearest bridge.
I am not sure at which point I leave the footpath, but the grass becomes progressively longer, the ground more irregular, the going difficult.
Only a foot or so away from my boot and heading towards me, I see something, long and winding.
I leap into the air and make circling movements with my legs – like a Disney cartoon character, or a triple jumper – trying to keep airborne as long as possible.
It slithers past, under bent grass stems. Was it an adder? Don’t be silly. Almost certainly it was a grass snake, I tell myself. I really, really, wish I had my poles.
Onwards. The grass on the bank becomes flatter, and the walking gets easier. Ahead I can see the reason why. I am about to pass through fields of cows.
After snakes, cows are my least favourite animal. And, since I am no longer on a public footpath, these cows could be (1) unused to humans, (2) dangerous dairy breeds, (3) or bulls in disguise.
I come down off the bank and creep along with my head low, to escape their attention. The technique works, even though it makes me look like a poacher, or a thief.
After an hour of walking along the bank, I see large sluice gates ahead, and feel myself relax.
I’ve survived my trespassing walk, and escaped unscathed, despite snakes, mad cows, and many fierce warning signs. Luckily, for my conscience, most of the signs were facing the wrong way and only visible to me after I had climbed out of the forbidden fields.
Ahead is Diamond Farm Caravan Park. My walk is nearly over for the day.
The caravan park is right next to the large sluice. I was secretly hoping I might be able to cross the River Axe at this point by climbing over the sluice. But, as I had been warned by others, the gates are too high and well protected by barbed wire. Shame.
So through the caravan park I go. It seems deserted. Everybody must be out on the beach.
In the reception area of the campsite is a little shop cum café. I go in and ask if they have cold drinks. The lady points me to a large cupboard-fridge. I am a little worried because the lights are off in the fridge, but the can of drink seems cold enough.
After I’ve paid, I go outside to sit in at the tables in the sunshine. The café doors bang behind me. Through the glass, I see the lady turning the ‘OPEN’ sign around. ‘CLOSED’. I realise I only just made it in time. The place is shutting.
It is 4:15 on a sunny Sunday afternoon in August – and the only shop cum café on this large campsite is closing for the day. How extraordinary!
I just can’t get over the miserly opening hours kept by cafés in our British holiday resorts. No wonder people go abroad. (I can’t complain officially, of course, being only a trespasser.)
The sign on the plastic chair says – in case you’re wondering:
Trespassers will be
Survivors will be
Anyway, I enjoy my drink in the sunshine while I wait for hubby to arrive and pick me up.
[Update: the sluice over the river is now open to walkers and cyclists, and is an official crossing point! This is excellent news, and thanks to Anne, in the comments section below, for letting us know.]
Miles walked today= 12
Total distance travelled= 1,525