157pm Weston-super-Mare

[Continued from the morning.]

We leave the pub in Uphill in pouring rain. But soon, by the time we reach the beach, the rain stops and the clouds begin to clear. Out comes my camera. Ahead, across Weston bay, is the beautiful Brean Down peninsula. I can see where I sat and ate my snack yesterday. The island beyond is Steep Holm, the last English outpost before the Welsh coast.

Brean Down and Steep Holm, Ruth walking the coast, Weston Super Mare

Weston-Super-Mare is a couple of miles away, up the beach. Yesterday, this section of sand had kite surfers, but today it is deserted, apart from us and the occasional dog walker.

Ruth walking up Weston Bay, towards Weston super Mare

The tide is far out, leaving a huge expanse of mud below the sand. A yellow notice warns us the mud is treacherous.

Weston-super-Mare, Ruth's coast walking, an awful lot of mud

I really enjoy this section of my walk today. And it’s fun walking with my husband for company. The only other people about are dog walkers.

Weston-super-Mare draws nearer, Ruth's coastal walk in Somerset

Hubby likes to stride ahead, faster than my preferred pace. So, to keep him in check, I make him walk behind me. He gets his revenge by taking photographs of my rear view.

 Weston super Mare, Ruth Livingstone, nearly there

At one point, he carries my rucksack sack for me. And gets ahead again as we approach the outskirts of Weston-Super-Mare.

Weston super Mare, Ruth's hubby, nearly there

26 danger, sinking mud in Weston super Mare, Ruth walking the coastThere are numerous warning signs about dangerous mud, although not everybody seems to worry about sinking sands. Far out, but still nowhere near the distant water, I see a couple with a small child.

I do wonder what people find attractive about  Weston-super-Mare. The view from this end of the beach is underwhelming. Mud. It’s not really seaside, at all. More like a river bank.

We pass by decaying walls and unattractive hoardings, behind which – my husband informs me – is a sand sculpture display. But you have to pay to go inside.

Meanwhile, out on the sand, a beach patrol vehicle moves up and down on the edge of the mud, looking for sinking people.

27 beach patrol, Weston-super-Mare, Ruth's coastal walk

I have to confess, the pier at Weston-super-Mare is very nice: elegant and not covered in tacky neon-lighted amusements. You have to pay to go down it.

Weston super Mare pier, Ruth walking the coast in Somerset

And, beside the pier, we find what people come for: donkey rides and other amusements.

The donkeys look really well cared for and people follow behind with shovels and sacks, to make sure the beach is kept clean of droppings.
Donkey rides, Weston-super-Mare, Ruth's coastal path

Now this is a surreal sight; a horse pulling a train engine. (There are several of these horse-drawn trains, all looking suspiciously like characters from the Thomas the Tank Engine books.)

 horse pulling a train, Weston super Mare, Ruth's coastal wlk

A big wheel on the promenade. A big dipper behind it. The bland façade of a chain hotel.

 big wheel, Ruth Livingstone walking through Weston Super Mare

But it is not until we reach the far end of the beach, that I see something really attractive. A piece of land jutting out into the sea, with some really nice buildings and a collection of picturesque fishing boats in front. This is the recently refurbished Knightstone Island, linked to the main beach from the promenade, and it has a continental look to it. Italian?

Knightstone, Ruth on her coastal walk through Weston-super-Mare

In front of Knightstone Island is the Marine Lake. This is an artificial seawater pool with a safe beach (no mud) and water deep enough to swim in.

Marine Bay, Glentworth Lake, Ruth walking through Weston-super-Mare

You can walk across the sea wall that holds the water back. It looks very wet and has a coating of slippery seaweed in places, which means that water must cover this concrete walkway during high tides.

crossing Marine Bay, Weston super Mare, Ruth's coastal walking

This is Glentworth Bay. Overlooking the sea, at the far northern end of Weston-Super-Mare, are some rather stately Victorian houses, a reminder of when this area was a fashionable bathing resort.

crossing Marine Bay, Weston super Mare, Ruth's coastal walking

We walk around the sea-front at Anchor Head, and I take a photo looking back towards Knightstone Island. You can see the concrete wall holding back the water in the Marine Lake, some new apartments, and the older buildings on the island. Behind Knightstone, the white structure of the pier is visible.

view back over Glentworth Bay and Weston super mare, Ruth's coast walking

Somewhere near here, in a little alleyway, we find an image on a wall.

 Banksy graffiti, wall in Weston Super Mare, Ruth's coastal walkI’m pretty sure this is a Banksy. Could be wrong.

[Later when I do a Google search, I can find no reference to this particular image being connected with Banksy. But it does look like it might be his work. I did find a photo of the same wall on Flickr, taken in 2011 and before the extra graffiti paint was added. The little boy was holding a chain stick, or nunchuck in his hands.]

weird warning sign, Weston super mare A little further on, and we come to a yellow triangle warning sign. This one doesn’t warn of mud. But it does warn of the steep drop on the other side of the flimsy fencing.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I find the wording rather odd.

Danger. Fall to below risk.

What??? Why do people writing signs seem to lose their ability to use normal English?

On the other side of the fencing is Birnbeck Island, connected to Weston-super-Mare by a precarious looking wooden walkway. The place has been left to fall into ruin, although the lifeboat station is still used. It looks like something out of a horror film.

disused pier, Birnbeck Island, Ruth walking through Weston super Mare

This afternoon gives me the first clear view of Wales on this walking trip. It has been too hazy before. I use my zoom lens to take a photograph of Cardiff, identifiable because I can see the great struts of the Millennium Stadium.

Wales in the distance, Ruth walking in Weston super Mare

I can’t wait to reach Wales and start walking the wonderful Wales Coast Path.

But first, I need to complete my walk up the Bristol Channel. And now it is time to head for our B&B, somewhere in Kewstoke, a village/suburb just to the north of Weston-super-Mare. Onwards.

I was anticipating a difficult walk along the coastal road – narrow, with no pavement and surprisingly busy with traffic. But my husband was here earlier, and he discovered a footpath running parallel to the road, through a  woodland area along the base of Worlebury Hill.
walking through Worlebury Woods, Ruth in Weston super Mare

This is a wonderful walk. The trees are old and varied. We have occasional views across the road to the water.

path through woods, Worlebury, Weston super Mare

Sometimes the path is a narrow dirt route, sometimes a wider gravel track. Despite the lovely summer evening, we only meet one other couple out walking.
Worlebury woods, Ruth walking the north Somerset Coast, Weston super Mare

We climb up to Kewstoke Road and enjoy more fabulous views across Sand Bay and Bristol beyond.

 Kewstoke and Sand Bay, Ruth walking the Somerset coastline

The B&B is newly opened and situated next to the lovely Parish church. The garden looks over Sand Bay and is a great place to sit and enjoy the last of the evening light.

Your can read some of the history behind Weston-Super-Mare here, and how it developed from Roman times into a fishing village, then became a thriving area of calamine mines, turned into a fashionable Victorian sea-bathing spa, and eventually became the family holiday resort we know today.

Miles walked today = 11.5 miles
Total distance walked = 1,536.5


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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22 Responses to 157pm Weston-super-Mare

  1. jcombe says:

    I rather liked Weston-super-Mare actually. As to the attraction I think people just like to be near water, it’s the same reason why waterfront properties are always more expensive. A shame that the pier charges admission. That is new as that wasn’t the case when I was there. Searching online the charge was introduced earlier this year. The owners claim it is because the new pavillion costs 3 times as much to operate as the one it replaced. Perhaps they should have thought of that before they replaced it?! I think they are shooting themselves in the foot. I think the pier makes most of it’s money from the arcades and rides in the building. I suspect the charge will put people of going there and hence spending any money there. I would not be surprised to find it actually ends up costing them more.

    Good to know about the path through the woodlands. I took one look at the road and decided I was not going to walk that so made my way around the shore (it was low tide), but it was a really horrible “walk” (more of a scramble really) over pebbles and rocks all covered with a thin layer of slippery mud. I think you found the better route!

    I hope you enjoy the Wales Coast Path too. I’ve done a few bits and was there last weekend and walked from Severn Tunnel Junction station to Newport. I have a tip for you. If you look at the map around Newport the coast path marked on the map goes to the Newport transporter bridge, but rather than cross it, is routed further north to another bridge, which then requires you to walk alongside a dual carriageway for nearly a mile, only to end up at the other side of the transporter bridge. I presume this is because the transporter bridge does not run at all times. A far more interesting option is to use the transporter bridge to cross the river Usk, which is a very odd structure really (sort of a cross between a bridge and a ferry). For 2014 it is open Wednesday – Sunday from 10am to 5pm, but the last crossing from the east is at 4:30pm, but only from 2nd April to 28th September (it is closed in the winter). It costs £1 to cross on the gondala, but new for this year (which is what I did), you can actually walk over the high level walkway. This costs a bit more (£2.75) but is a brilliant experience, assuming you don’t mind heights and a lot of steps, as this is 177ft over the river. The walkway is only made of a sort of metal mesh so you can see right down to the river/ground all the way, which may or may not appeal, depending on how good you are with heights. The stairs are also very open (they are enclosed on the sides with this metal mesh stuff too). The website is here : http://www.newport.gov.uk/heritage/index.cfm/transporterBridge/

    I have uploaded a photo here : https://www.flickr.com/photos/joncombe/15340556751/ – you can see the stair cases on either side of the bridge, which you have to go up (and down).

    • I certainly liked the top end (northern) of Weston-Super-Mare, where there were some nice houses and the newly refurbished Knightstone Island. But – wow – walking along that stretch of shore between Sand Bay and Weston must have been tough. The path in the woods may not have existed when you did that section of the coast. It looks fairly new and is not marked on my OS map.
      Thank you very much for the info on Newport Transporter bridge. Looks incredible and the walkway is a must! If I arrive there when it’s open, of course. (Although I will probably have to keep my eyes closed for most of the walk.)

    • Martin W says:

      There are charges for everything. I discovered that on the Weston sea-front even the temporary occupation of a small room costs 20p!

  2. An interesting post. there’s nearly aways something to see on the coast. I’m looking forward to you getting into Wales. I’ve just enjoyed the SWCP from Poole to Exmouth as you know. I’m in agreement with your favourable comments on that section.

  3. The last time I went to Weston-Super-Mare I didn’t see or hear the sea, despite staying for four hours and going to the very end of the pier. It was a foggy March day and the tide was out.

  4. Have you walked the next section yet? I’m waiting in suspense to see if you’re brave enough to attempt the big short-cut via sluice gates on private farmland off Wick Lane 🙂

    • Hi Gary. Haven’t written up that section yet, but it turned out to be a really frustrating and difficult day. No, I didn’t attempt the short cut. Wasn’t sure if I could get across the sluice gates and the big ‘NO ENTRY’ signs put me off. Did you succeed?

  5. Conrad says:

    That transporter bridge was closed when I got there and I was well disappointed. I walked up the road to the new road bridge and on the way there was an attractive young girl running a roadside snack wagon and I feasted on a bacon butty and tea and then she gave me another sandwich for free, “…for later”. Happy memories.

  6. Weston is home to many people from Birmingham, I can tell you that much!! 😀

    You may not know this but the old pier actually caught on fire on 2008 and much of it was burned down. I’ve not visited it since the re-opening but I’ve seen images that suggest it’s gone a bit OTT. There used to be a kind of ‘shuttle’ service that could ferry people to and from the other end with the arcades and kid’s games. But the charge is definitely new! You’ll find they also charge for access to Clevedon Pier further up the coast (again, I’m sure that’s new) but I hope it’s far less significant.

    Worlebury Woods are quite nice and a welcome break from the rest of Weston. I believe there used to be a toll (for drivers) passing along that road.

    I look forward to seeing you reach Sand Point and wish you well on your way to Kingston Seymour and Clevedon, as I fear it could be a repeat of the strife around the River Axe…

  7. mariekeates says:

    Your graffiti does look very Banskyesque to me. I saw some wonderful walls in Bristol but no Banksys. Many of the enquiries I deal with every day at work are from this part of the world so it’s interesting to see the places I’m talking about. I’m pretty sure the writers of signs are the same people who write letters to us, they have a strange concept of the English language.

  8. Bronchitikat says:

    Weston-Super-Mare – memories of childhood visits to the beaches, every Saturday. In winter we started at Anchor Head, climbed around the rocks then walked towards the (now new) pier. In summer we went to the sandy beach. That was the attraction, sand you could dig/build sandcastles with. You didn’t go to Weston for the sea. The tide went out so far you’d wonder if it would ever come in again. It did, usually with a chilly wind.

    Hmmm, rides in the various carts with Mum, donkey rides as we grew older. And back in those days one could get fish and chips for five, plus a couple of cakes each and change from ten shillings!

  9. Pingback: 157am River Axe to Uphill | Ruth's Coastal Walk (UK)

  10. farm piano says:

    Hi, just seen your page & would like to say something about Weston. I was born & brought up there and aware of how the appeal of Weston can vary greatly depending on the conditions. I speak mainly in terms of aesthetic & photographic beauty, not in terms of facilities, though a lot of sea front improvements have been successfully made (& still going on) around the pier area and beyond. On the day you walked it looked very grey with flat light and the tide out. Although some interesting textural photos can be had with the tide out, flat light will make anywhere look, well, flat and unappealing. Wish you could go again when there is dramatic light and a high tide – it is transformed!

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