Porlock Weir – Coast Path – Culbone Church – Coast Path – Porlock Weir

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The port of Porlock Weir with its tidal harbour has existed for more than a thousand years. Historical records show it was raided by the Danes in 866. Many of the cottages date from the 17th Century and some are Grade II-listed.

From Porlock Weir the route goes by a couple of fields to the start of the toll road. The building here (see Photo 3) was the lodge to Ashley Combe House. This was built in 1799 as a hunting lodge and was later owned by William King, the first Earl Lovelace and used as a summer residence. Further reincarnations include use as a nursery by Dr Barnados in World War II and as a country club in the 1950s. After falling into a state of disrepair it was demolished in 1974.

The tunnels on the next section of the route went under the extensive Italian gardens in the house's heyday. They seem to have two purposes: firstly to conceal the tradesmen en route to the tradesmen's entrance at the back of the house from the residents and their guests and secondly to enable Lady Lovelace to access the shore for bathing through the grounds without being seen by said tradesmen.

From here the route ascends on the coast path though woodland, on one section quite steeply. It is well-signed either as 'coast path' or sometimes with an acorn symbol. You will come upon Culbone Church nestling in a beautiful wooded combe on the right-hand side of the coast path. The church itself is Grade I-listed and, seating only about thirty people, is reputedly the smallest parish church in England. It is dedicated to the famous Welsh saint, St Beuno – pronounced 'Bayno'. It is probably pre-Norman: the body of the church is 11th Century, the porch is 13th Century and the nave is 15th Century. The box pews include one for the squires of Ashley Combe House. Other notable features are the Saxon bowl font and the small window in the north wall of the chancel, which is carved from a single block of sandstone with a carved face at the top of the central upright. Also set in the north wall is a lepers' squint; there is reputed to have been a leper colony in the woods in the 16th Century. The church was used in the TV version of Blackmoore's 'Lorna Doone' as the setting of John Ridd's wedding.

Specimens of a rare microspecies of self-cloning sorbus can be found in the woodland around the church. This is one of the rarest trees in the country and is found only in the coastal strip between Culbone and Trentishoe to the west.

The SW Coast Path is a route of over 600 miles between Poole and Minehead which is marked by acorns on the fingerposts.

England - South West England - Somerset - Exmoor


Birds, Cafe, Church, Gift Shop, Great Views, Museum, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, Sea, Toilets, Woodland

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Distance away
16.2 Miles