Aspects of Exmoor

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We would suggest that these notes are read in conjunction with
the Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure 9 Exmoor 1:25000 map.

Walk P5: Porlock Marsh

Bold letters in brackets, for example (A), refer to check points on the shorter walks mentioned at the end.

Notes: This is an almost flat stroll from Porlock village to Bossington through the fields, returning via the edge of Porlock Marsh and also visits the Second World War Liberator memorial. The writer of these notes would recommend a balmy summer afternoon and plenty of time to appreciate this walk. The marsh area has an atmosphere all of its own - almost an amphitheatre surrounded by the hills of Exmoor. This walk is only negotiable below half-tide. At higher points in the tide, the causeway to Sparkhayes Lane may be covered.

Distance: 2¾ miles. Shorter variation 2¼ miles.

Time: 1¼ -1½ hours.

Start point: Porlock village centre. Park in one of the village car parks.

Directions: If starting from Doverhay car park at the Minehead end of the village, walk 50 yards towards the centre of the village and turn right into Sparkhayes Lane.

If starting from the Central car park behind the fire station, walk to the far end of the car park, go through the gate, along the alley way bringing you out opposite the Post Office. Turn left, walk past the church and the entrance to Sparkhayes Lane is 50 yards further on the left.

Continue along Sparkhayes Lane, passing Furzeland Road and Parks View. 50 yards beyond the latter, turn up a set of stone steps which bring you into Bay Road. Continue along this road to its junction with Villes Lane and turn left onto a rough path.

Continue past a kissing gate on your left along a hedged track and, when you reach a fork, take the left arm of the path through a kissing gate into an open field. Follow the hedge on your right and, just into the next field, the path moves to the other side of the hedge and then returns to the seaward side through the third field. At the end of the third field, you reach a metal gate. (A) Go through and follow the hedged path to a junction with a wide track at a point where a small stream crosses your path. This is Sea Lane, Bossington.

Turn left and follow the lane right through until it brings you to the back of the shingle ridge above Bossington Beach. Walk up to the top of the ridge and spend a few minutes at the sea. Return down to the track and take one of the narrow paths which run off to the right. These tracks head up to follow the top of the bank which follows the edge of the field and goes towards the old lime kilns.

Take the track to the left of these buildings and go through the kissing gate into the large field. Follow the right-hand edge of the field, immediately crossing a stile over a post and wire fence. (B) Continue to follow the back of the ridge until you reach an older stile by a stone wall which leads you out onto the open part of the marsh.

After about 100 yards, the track becomes difficult to distinguish because it crosses an area of large, rough pebbles. Keep straight ahead paralleling the shingle ridge until you come down onto a more recognisable path. To your left, keep an eye open for a causeway of rough pebbles which crosses one of the water courses.

Cross the causeway and follow the path between the two water channels, over a small wooden bridge and up to a kissing gate.(C) Turn right and head for a second kissing gate about 200 yards away. Go through, follow the yellow waymarks along the right-hand hedge and cross the substantial wooden footbridge crossing the Hawkcombe Stream. Just ahead of you, the USAF aircraft memorial can be seen. The memorial is a simple stone one surrounded by a wooden fence for protection and commemorates an aircraft crash in 1942 when a USAF Liberator crashed on return from a patrol killing all but one of the crew. It was erected by the local British Legion in their memory. It used to be at the back of the shingle ridge just west of the causeway but was moved intact to its present position in August 2006. The footbridge was built in 2003 as part of the diversion of the Coast Path following the floods of October 1996 which destroyed the old line of the path nearer to Porlock Weir.

Return to (C) and go through the gate. Follow the path passing a kissing gate on your left and then turn through a second gate with a sign warning you not to walk in the lane. The path runs alongside two fields, separated from them by wire fences, then past a large barn and alongside a third field.

You emerge at the end of this field onto the farm track again which after 50 yards becomes a tarmac road and passes the steps which you used at the beginning of the walk. Follow Sparkhayes Lane back to its junction with the High Street.

Short variation. When you reach point (A) on the main walk, do not go through the gate but take the track to the left on the far side of the hedge which is the public right of way. Follow the left-hand hedge along this path and go through the gate at the end into a field. Follow the path along the fence on your left until you reach a stile at the far end. This is point (B) on the main route.

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Information © Geoff Bannister 2004-2008