Somerset Coast Path
When I started walking along the Somerset Coast in 2015, there was no official coastal path covering the entire county. The closest thing to that was an unofficial route described in a book by Aurum Press, in the opposite direction to the way I was walking, joining several shorter paths and filling in the gaps between them.
When reversed to match my direction of travel, that route starts just across the county border at Lynmouth in Devon, using the latter part of the South West Coast Path to get to Minehead. From there it uses the West Somerset Coast Path to get to the mouth of the River Parrett, though despite the name the middle third of the path is a lengthy inland diversion into the Quantock Hills. The River Parrett Trail is then followed upstream to the first bridge over the river at Bridgwater then back along the other side of the river to Burnham-on-Sea and Brean. The route then cuts inland again on busy roads and poorly-maintained footpaths to get around the River Axe to rejoin the coast at Uphill, near Weston-super-Mare, entirely skipping the highlight of Brean Down. Another long diversion inland cuts out most of the coast between Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon, before a section of the Gordano Round follows the coast up to the mouth of the River Avon at Portishead and the Avon Valley Walk follows the river inland to Bristol city centre. From Bristol's floating harbour the Severn Way can be followed back out to the coast and over the county border into Gloucestershire to the second Severn Bridge at Aust, the first available pedestrian crossing into Wales.
In 2014, Natural England announced plans to create a section of the new England Coast Path from the end of the South West Coast Path at Minehead to Aust. When I walked the first couple of stages of the Somerset coast in 2015, the western half of the planned route, between Minehead and Brean Down, had been approved but wasn't yet signposted. The new route cuts out the inland diversion of the West Somerset Coast Path, although the latter has been retained as an alternative route, as part of the new route along the coast is subject to flooding for a few hours each side of high tide. In the end, I decided to walk both new and old routes.
When I returned in 2016, the section to Brean Down had been signposted, but the section from Brean to Aust was still not approved and no maps of the proposed route were available, so I reverted to following the route described in the Aurum book. With the majority of that section of the path spent out of sight of the coast, it felt rather unsatisfying as a coastal walk, and I plan to return in a few years once the England Coast Path is established.
|Stage||Start and Finish||Date||Distance|
|1||Lynmouth to Minehead||18 Jul 2015||33.5km|
|2||Minehead to Kilve Beach||21 Jul 2015||23km|
This walk is in progress.