160 Clevedon to Portishead

After a frustrating and frightening struggle yesterday – through brambles, obstructed footpaths and fields of mad cows – I am really hoping my route will be easier today.

My husband drops me off by St Andrew’s Church, right on the southern edge of the Clevedon coast. I walk past the cemetery chapel and head for the bank of the river with the strange name – Blind Yeo.

cemetery chapel, St Andrews, Clevedon
Above me is a cliff and this is where I want to be, so when I spot a footpath leading upwards I can’t resist following it. The climb is steep and slippery. Is this the right way?

From a resting spot, I take a photo of the river estuary beneath me, tracing the route I walked along yesterday. Unfortunately, a murky mist shrouds the distant view and makes for poor photography.

02 view across Blind Yeo, Ruth's coastal walk, Clevedon, Somerset
Sadly, my steep path comes to a dead-end in a patch of brambles. There is no further way up the slope. Ah well. I retrace my steps and find the proper signposted path – the Poet’s Walk – a much tamer affair compared to the wild scramble I’ve just attempted.

03 poets walk, Clevedon, Ruth walking the coast in north Somerset
Poet’s Walk leads me up to a ridge of high land that runs along the coast on the south side of Clevedon. This is the site of ancient iron age forts, and the remains of a rabbit farm dating from the middle ages. I didn’t know such a thing existed.

At the top is grassy heath, and from here the path descends gradually through bushes and woodland towards Clevedon. The views, sadly,  are obscured by high vegetation. But, even when visible, the murky atmosphere makes everything look grey and uninspiring.

04 Walk along West End, Clevedon, Ruth waking around the coastline
I pass above St Andrew’s Church. Workmen are arriving to mow the graveyard and the hum of their machinery soon fills the air.

05 St Andrew's church, Clevedon, Ruth on coast
Down through woods and I arrive at an unexpected stretch of enclosed water. This is Clevedon’s Marine Lake. It looks a little sad and unused. I wanted to walk along the sea wall – but signs say this is forbidden because the walkway is crumbling and unsafe.

06 Marine Lake, Clevedon, Ruth walking the coast in Somerset
[Later I learn there are plans to restore the lake, repair the leaking outer wall, and encourage water sports and, I hope, swimming again. Will be lovely when finished.]

Beyond the Marine Lake is a promenade and some pretty pastel houses. It is a Thursday morning and there are older people about, young mothers, pre-school children. The ice-cream kiosks are closed, but the outdoor cafes are doing a brisk trade. Coffee and cakes.

07 Clevedon, Ruth walking around the coast of Somerset
Compared to Weston-Super-Mare, Clevedon is quieter, more sedate. Dignified. I wasn’t expecting much, but I really like the place.

Clevedon Pier is an elegant structure, although the poor atmospheric conditions make for lack lustre photography. And the landward end of the pier is obscured by scaffolding. Still, I would have like to walk along it for a few minutes, but you had to pay. So I didn’t bother.

08 elegant Clevedon Pier, Ruth walking around the coast, North Somerset
[Later I learn that Clevedon Pier is a Grade 1 listed building – the highest protection that can be offered. And the scaffolding is part of a redevelopment plan to improve the access area of the pier.]

Beyond the pier the road bends inland. Private properties obscure my view of the sea.

Somewhere here is a coastal footpath – part of the Gordano Round  long-distance footpath trail. There are no signs (or none that I see, anyway) and so I nearly miss it. But instinct tells me to go down a bland and uninteresting looking alleyway… and as it narrows and continues onwards, I realise I must be on the right track.

09 coast path from Clevedon, Ruth in north Somerset
The path winds along the outside of a wall and then around the backs of properties. The surface is asphalt or Tarmac (I don’t know the difference) and well maintained. I meet a couple of joggers and dog walkers. This isn’t exactly a wild coastal footpath I was expecting, and I don’t know whether to be relieved at the prospect of an easy walk or disappointed by the tameness of the route.

But I needn’t have worried. I leave the houses of Clevedon behind. The landscape widens out, while the path narrows. There are rocks below, and I come across the occasional little shingle beach, hidden in a quiet cove.

10 coast path, heading to Portishead, Ruth walking around Somerset
Out in the Severn Estuary a container ship glides past, like an eerie ghost in the mist.

11 container ships, Bristol Channel, Ruth walking the coast
The sun comes out, but does little to drive the mist away. It’s a shame I can’t see the Welsh coast. I know it’s over there.

It’s half an hour since I met anybody on the path. Then, coming towards me and balancing with difficulty on the narrow path, I see a couple of middle-aged women.

12 walkers coming towards me, Ruth walking from Clevedon to Portishead
They’ve walked from Portishead and are heading for Clevedon. They tell me the path is narrow in places but passable. I tell them the path gets easier towards Clevedon.

What a difference a bit of sunshine makes. Suddenly I notice the lovely autumn colours and the wild flowers. It’s been a mild autumn and the plants are showing off.

13 autumn flowers and berries, walking to Portishead, Ruth on her coastal walk
Below the rocks are beautiful. Ochres; yellow, red and brown, above the dark, seaweed strewn shoreline.

14 colourful rocks, walking to Portishead, Ruth in north SomersetSomewhere along here I pass by a holiday camp of static caravans. This means litter in the bushes. Dog dirt on the path. Sigh. But at least a workman is keeping the path clear of brambles and overhanging branches.

15 hedge strimming, Ruth walking the coast, near Portishead
I stop for a snack in a little cove. Nobody is about. The coast is devoid of identifying features. I pull out my map and trace the route I’ve walked. Ladye Point, Backhill Sands, Margaret’s Bay, Pigeon House Bay, Culver Cliff, Walton Bay. I’m not sure exactly, but I think I’m in Charlcombe Bay.

After this, I reach Redcliff Bay. I know where I am because tall fences guard an industrial complex. A fuel storage place, I think. Not a very friendly walk.

16 storage tanks, Redliffe Bay, Ruth walking to Portishead
Out in the water I see a giant ship heading up the estuary. It looks rather like a roll-on-roll-off ferry – with a snub bow and a flat stern. But its sides are very deep with no portholes, and my map doesn’t show any passenger ferry routes along the shore. So it must be a cargo ship. But no sign of containers on the deck. A mystery.

17 car container, Bristol channel, Ruth walking the coast in Somerset
As I approach Portishead, the path decants onto a housing estate and I have a short stretch of  road walking to do. A convenient bench is inviting, but suffers from that usual Somerset disease – lack of maintenance. (Note: a sea-view seat is useless without a sea view.)

18 a seat with no view, Portishead, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK
I come across footpath signs! The first I’ve seen all day. I’m grateful I can leave the road and follow a proper path around the coast.

Below are Black Nore rocks. Their lighthouse provides a useful reference point.

19 Black Nore and lighthouse, Ruth walking the coast, Portishead
I meet walkers and dogs, and know I must be approaching the main bay of Portishead, where I’m meeting my husband for lunch. This section of the walk is wonderful – with old trees and an unspoilt shore. Ahead is Sugar Loaf Beach. What a lovely name.

20 through trees, coast walk in Portishead, Ruth Livingstone
I find the sailing club. Almost there.

21 past the yacht club, Ruth walking the coast, Portishead
And now the path leaves the waterside and crosses over a wide green space of mown grass. Shame it is hard to get a view of the sea, because of the high bushes. But I do get a glimpse across the bay to Portishead Point on Battery Point, and its lighthouse.

22 over the bay to Portishead Point, Ruth walking the Somerset coast
I make my way up the slope to the pub, forcing my way through a private gate at the bottom of the pub garden, to avoid the tiring climb to the top.

23 Windmill Pub, Portishead, Ruth's coast walking
We sit out on the decking and have a lovely meal. My husband is keen to show me his cycling route.

24 hubby finished his pint of beer, Portishead
But all I want to do is drink my pint of cold cider.

24 Ruth drinking a pint of cider, Portishead
It’s 3:30pm by the time we’ve finished eating and drinking. I decide to end the day’s walk at this point. Yesterday was exhausting. Today has been easier. But I need to save some energy for tomorrow.

Found an interesting blog about Clevedon here: Lyrical by the Sea on the Richly Evocative site.

Distance walked today = 7 miles
Total round the coast = 1,567 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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33 Responses to 160 Clevedon to Portishead

  1. Another interesting post. At the Avon M5 crossing you will coincide again with my LEJOG route. I spent the night before that at Easton-in-Gordano with a story to tell. I will put that on a comment when you get there. I’m looking forward to your next section. Do you carry carry a sit mat – useful for those sitting places that are not pristine, and almost weightless?

  2. Great to follow you around places I’ve visited(but too lazy to walk!).For your information,the first ship you saw was probably a bulk carrier(loose grain etc.)The second a car carrier almost certainly from the far east(NYK line)delivering vehicles to Avonmouth.You will certainly see the holding parks when you try to get around the docks there.

    • Ah, the joys of virtual walking 🙂 thanks for the info about the ships. I’ve just done the next stretch (always a little behind with the blogging) and came across the giant car parks.

  3. David L says:

    Clevedon Pier is beautiful, isn’t it? Delicate and elegant; quite unlike the usual solid beast of a pier with a tatty amusement arcade stranded at the end. Apparently, as with St Pancras Station, we partly have John Betjeman to thank for its survival- http://www.clevedonpier.com/who_we_are/history.shtml. A good man.

  4. anstapa says:

    If you’re a cider drinker (and I see you are, Ruth!) and you’re in this area, the Black Horse at Clapton-In-Gordano is worth a visit. It’s not too much of a detour form the coast.

  5. Wingclipped says:

    I saw one of the NYK-style ships not so long ago in Southampton – it was loading cars and tractors…

  6. Bronchitikat says:

    Clevedon is rather more refined than Weston-Super-Mare, and considerably quieter. Had an Aunt and Uncle who ran a deli there once upon a time. Enjoy Port Zed!

  7. Marie Keates says:

    I’m glad it was an easier day Ruth. Up what a shame the sea views were obscured. We suffer that a fair bit here. A lot of our best sea views are inaccessible or so overgrown nothing can be seen.

  8. Pingback: Lyrical by the sea: Clevedon’s Poet’s Walk | Richly Evocative

  9. paul sennett says:

    We loved your guide to this walk. We started at 5 by the beach in Clevedon.. a great little cafe .. and then stopped at the windmill inn for lunch..we were surprised by the amazing clear views. Especially from the poets walk

    • Glad you enjoyed it Paul. Sounds like you had a much clearer day than I did. I knew there were wonderful views out there somewhere… just couldn’t see them. When I crossed over into Wales, the green area around Windmill Inn remained clearly visible from the other side of the Severn, as a reminder of a lovely walk.

  10. Pingback: Here, there and everywhere! – Finding the time

  11. I have just completed this walk with lunch at the same pub. I loved your description and you have inspired me to start a similar blog. Also enjoyed the fact that you spoke to fellow walkers on the route and took a photo. I walked in a summer dress, sun hat and sandals because it was a lovely summer’s day. I saw 2 young ladies in dresses but other serious walkers had proper gear, socks, boots and walking poles which I know is more sensible!

    • Hi there. It’s a good walk, isn’t it. Did you really walk it in a dress and sandals?! Love the fact you’re going to start a blog. Let me know when you get it up and running.

      • Hi Ruth, my blog is now up and running ‘Random Walks in a Skirt’. I am not as brave as you – I was just reading about your encounters with the cows and bulls plus steep slopes, vicious dogs and electrified fences! Makes good ‘suspense story’ reading though. I shall become more adventurous as time goes on I hope. I’m looking forward to reading more of your walks and I do hope your cold improves and the weather stays favourable. Happy walking!

  12. Adam says:

    Hi I have just discovered your blog I run one myself a football one. I did this very walk yesterday and am now quite sunburnt 🙂 . A decent to walk but was very overgrown

  13. Peter J Ashford says:

    hello….can tell you that was very much my ‘patch’ in the early 60s. Clevedon to Portishead by bike. We lived in Beechwood Drive, Portishead, off Nore Rd, which ends at the coastal path a bit before Black Nore Light. That was where the Nautical School was. For a kid with his dog it was a paradise of crabbing, eel fishing, and hiding in places you’d never know were there.

    Think I need to retrace my steps next year when I visit the UK

  14. Nicola Morgan says:

    My mother was telling me how as a child I in the 40s her parents took her on walks from Portishead to Redcliffe Bay and how the narrow track was boarded by shingles beaches on one side and expanses of fields full of poppies on the other. Not like that now!

  15. Karen White says:

    Clevedon pier does look lovely. If I’m in the area I will try and remember to visit,

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