The original end of the Coleridge Way before the 2015 extension to Lynmouth, Porlock provides the largest, and indeed most enticing, habitation on the route before Lynmouth, winning the award in 2009 with good reason as the most beautiful village in Somerset. Surrounded on three sides by Exmoor National Park the village occupies a sheltered position looking out over the marshes to a big blue Bristol Channel and as such really does feel like the trail end.
Long a favourite for walkers, the village has plenty of B&B’s, tea shops and atmospheric Inn’s, such as The Ship on Porlock Hill which dates back to the 12th Century. Wandering around, you will also find a host of local crafts, art galleries, the occasional walking equipment outlet and plenty of unusual independent shops, selling everything from second hand books to Somerset cheese. It’s also home to Miles tea and coffee blenders and roasters, where you can finish the walk by trying out its range of blends. A rather strung-out village with a never ending mix of everything from old thatch cottages, to Georgian, Edwardian and even rather Gothic style properties, you will arrive on one of the narrow medieval back paths that all seem to lead to the Church of St Dubricius.
The pleasant church is well worth a look with its unique squat steeple in a magnificent setting framed under the backdrop of the Exmoor foothills.
It is not just Coleridge that is in evidence here from the literary world. Now you are in the land of Lorna Doone, Porlock being R D Blackmore’s location for his tale of the moorland clans of Exmoor - those staying here can walk or ride into the remote Doone Valley to find out more. If you are staying overnight, take a short wander after dark, the village and its surroundings have just been made one of Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserves in recognition of its lack of light pollution and excellent night skies.
For those short on time, by far the best option is to wander the mile or so down to the sea at Porlock Weir - timeless little harbour with a 12th Century Inn on the coast below the village. You can return via the salt marshes created when the high shingle embankment was breached by the sea in the 1990s, the area alive with little egrets, spoonbills, hen and marsh harriers. At low tide you can also find the remains of a submerged prehistoric forest on the shoreline.
Porlock is well worth an extra night and The South West Coast Path which joins you here is superbly dramatic in either direction. You can walk westwards to the gorges of Lynmouth (“Little Switzerland” to the Poets) via tiny Culbone church, said the smallest church in England and only accessible on foot. Go east and head back over the impressive hogs back cliffs at the point where the moor falls into the sea, to reach Minehead. There is a walkers bus service in season, allowing you to walk either way and easily catch the bus back for a second night in Porlock (or of course we can arrange accommodation in the next location as usual.)
If it is a rest day you need, then this is a great place for one, with everything you need to recuperate in a stunning village at the foot of the hills. If you still have energy, you can visit the remains of the hill fort at Bury Castle, visit Greencombe Gardens or Dovery Manor Museum, a medieval manor house housing a museum of local history. You could of course get another day on Exmoor, but this time let someone else take the strain by using one of the riding and pony trekking options close by.
Optional Extra Day Coast Walking from Porlock
One other option to get a bit of coastal variety to your walk is to take one of the regular buses to Minehead, around a 15 minute journey, and then walk back to Porlock for a second night to enjoy the first 9 miles of The South West Coast Path, a superb introduction to the trail and the coastline. CLICK HERE to read about the walking and ask us to build this into your itinerary.