Porlock and Porlock Weir
Both Porlock Weir, situated right on the coast path, and Porlock, sited 3/4 mile inland are both stunning places to visit where you feel you have stepped back in time, with thatched buildings and olde-world charm and great sea views. Both places are equally worthy of an overnight stop, but for more facilities, Porlock itself might be the better choice.
Sited within Exmoor National Park, the two villages mark the boundaries of the Porlock Marsh Nature Reserve (with Bossington to the east). A unique landscape of birds, flora and fauna, the marsh was created when the high shingle embankment was breached by the sea in the 1990s and now the area is a haven for stunning butterflies, Little Egrets, Spoonbill and Marsh Harrier. If the tide is out you can also find the stumpy remains of a submerged prehistoric forest on the shoreline. Away from the marsh, Porlock’s undoubted charm is its location in the hollow between the wooded foothills of Exmoor towering above and the blue ocean beyond Porlock Weir.
A longstanding favourite for walkers, Porlock has plenty of B&B’s, tea shops and atmospheric Inns, including The Ship Inn on Porlock Hill dating back to the 12th Century. The village is very pleasant for an evening stroll, mixing a variety of architectural styles from old thatch and cob cottages, to Georgian, Edwardian and even rather Gothic style properties. 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. The Dovery Manor Museum (free) has some interesting displays inside what was a 15th Century Manor House, including a medieval "physic garden". Run by volunteers, it is worth checking opening times as these can vary.
Down the high street you will find a host of local crafts, art galleries, the odd walking equipment outlet and plenty of unusual independent shops, selling everything from second hand books to Somerset Cheese. If you are visiting in early July, Porlock and Porlock Weir host their own beer festival (Weirfest) over a weekend with selection of local real ales and ciders.
Porlock and surrounding areas were loved by great poets such as Wordsworth, Blake and their friend Robert Southey who is recorded to have stayed at the Ship Inn. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who lived inland at Nether Stowey, regularly walked here. He is said to blame his loss of inspiration for never finishing his iconic poem “Kubla Khan” on “the man from Porlock” when the local Postman called and interrupted his train of thought.
Porlock Weir's small harbour settlement dates back to the 17th Century. The tidal harbour and sturdy granite quay are protected by unusual lock gates and have existed for over 1000 years. It is very restful here, with only a pub, glass blowing craft workshop and a couple of restaurants. Angling and coastal trips are available from the harbour, or perhaps you might like to try your hand at crabbing – lines and buckets are available from The Harbour Stores.
If you fancy a stroll, head to nearby Gore where it is still possible to see the remains of a ship that sank in a storm in 1854 after losing her masts.
Porlock itself offers a good choice of B&B's small Hotels and some very old and traditional inn options and is also the start / end of the Coleridge Way which heads inland over Exmoor from here. There are one or two walking equipment shops if you do find you need anything - best to buy here as the villages that follow are good for a wetsuit and surfboard but no chance of a walking pole.