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Abtot Logo. Encounter Walking Holidays member number 5357

Porlock Weir

Porlock Weir is a quite magical place - a tiny 15th century harbour just off the Coleridge Way at one end of Porlock Bay, cloaked inland by steep, imposing dark forest. It sits at the end of a flat, five-mile section of shingle ridge and saltmarsh - the Porlock Levels, a haven for wildlife and for birdwatchers. To the west, the hamlet marks the start of a wild and uncompromising section of coast path and coastal forest that stretches all the way to Lynmouth with no facilities for the next 12 miles.  The name comes from the long-lost practice of driving rows of wooden poles (or weirs) into the mud to trap migrating salmon at high tide.

So Porlock Weir has a kind of outpost feel to it, yet the harbour itself has a beautifully open and spacious aspect, looking out over the wide waters to Wales ahead, whilst its scattering of historic buildings and fishing boats give it an untouched air. Its location has been of key significance throughout history. There has been a port here for over 1000 years and indeed the Danish were landing here as far back as 86AD. The harbour's heyday was during the Industrial Revolution, when coal was landed from Wales, and pit props for the mines were sent back in return, cut from the forests behind the village.

A small flotilla of yachts and boats berth here, waiting for the next tide, and the tidal harbour sits surrounded by a rough granite quay with huge impressive sealock gates. Facilities are very good for the overnight walker with one smart hotel overlooking the Quay, a small thatched inn providing B&B and a "restaurant" with rooms - all three offering a choice of evening meals. Little rows of charming 17th century Grade II listed fishing cottages date back to traditional seafaring traditions, known locally as Turkey Island and Gibralter Cottages.  At dusk the place is at its best, with only a few residents and overnight visitors left.   A walk along the shingle ridge in the sunset is a great end to the day and if the tide is right out, you can spot the stumps of a petrified prehistoric forest left in the shifting mud and sands.

It really is very restful here, with only a pub, harbour office and a couple of restaurants, the tiny boatyard museum and the Harbour Gallery and Cafe, a fine establishment which showcases work from local artists and craftspeople.


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