Minehead & Porlock Weir
Lying on the banks of the Bristol Channel, Minehead is considered the northern gateway to Exmoor and offers a superb destination for families seeking a traditional seaside holiday. It’s been a popular destination since Victorian times and as the home of one of the UK’s most famous holiday parks, draws a huge crowd to the region throughout the year.
Starting point for the South West Coast Path
Not only is Minehead the perfect place to start for those wanting to explore the scenery of Exmoor and the Quantock Hills, but it is also the starting point for the South West Coast Path. The beginning of the path is by a large stone sculpture of a hand holding a map – you can’t miss it.
Minehead is the largest of the towns in this part of the Exmoor area and is well known for its rail history being home to the longest heritage railway in England. Minehead’s railway station is just a stone’s through from the beach and visitors are welcome to enjoy a steam train journey through the picturesque countryside for a really unique seaside experience. Nearby you’ll find the historic Dunster Castle and if you visit the region later in the year, you can get into the festive spirit with the popular Dunster by Candlelight event, where the town is transported back to the past and lit only by candles – it is quite the sight and really helps get you in the mood for the holidays.
Town steeped in tradition
In addition to the annual events in Dunster, you’ll find a whole host of events and activities being held in the Minehead area that celebrates the town’s traditions. For example, one local tradition is that of the Hobby Horse (or as it is known there, the Obby Oss) which takes to the streets for four days on the eve of the first day of May each year with musicians and rival horses. In the Minehead event, there are three rival hobby horses, the Original Sailor’s Horse, the Traditional Sailor’s Horse and the Town House that appear on Show Night or the eve of May Day. On May Day Morning, the three horses salute the sunrise at the crossroads on the outskirts of town, and then join in a ceremony called the Bootie on the following days.
The horses are made out of wooden frames which are painted and then carried on the shoulders of dancers. The top of the horse is covered in ribbons and coloured fabric. The appearance of the horses is believed to bring good luck and the event is wonderful to watch.
Don’t forget Porlock!
Just down the road you’ll find the pretty Porlock Weir, which has developed around the harbour and offers stunning views of the Exmoor coast.
Full of quaint buildings dating back to the 17th century, Porlock Weir also boasts a number of fine restaurants, making the most of the local produce, and boutique hotels. Apart from being a good starting point for a number of circular walks, Porlock Weir is also a great destination for wildlife enthusiasts – the local saltmarsh offers a wonderful habitat for coastal birds, whilst the remains of a prehistoric forest can be viewed at a very low tide.