Welcome to 2015!
I spent almost every minute of daylight yesterday crossing the Mendip Hills and arrived back home shortly after darkness had fallen. You’ll get to read about that saga on another day. For now, I’d like to go back to Sunday when I took a short trip down to Sand Bay.
This was a walk I’d hoped to be able to do on Boxing Day but, the weather wasn’t great and with other things going on for Saturday, I had to postpone it slightly.
All the way to South Wales.
It had been well over a year since my last visit to this area. I can remember coming here twice in the summer of 2013 – once to meet up with a friend and a second time to introduce my dog to somewhere she hadn’t been in all of her 15 years.
I’d left home very late in the morning and I knew that, upon my arrival, the main car park for Sand Bay could well be full on such a sun-kissed day. But, I took what was possibly the last space, pressed tight against a grass verge and, about half-an-hour before midday, I set off and over the frosty footbridge and on towards the sands.
This was another walk where I’d wrapped myself up like a ninja but as soon as you step out from the shade, you can begin to feel the radiant warmth of the sun. A slight breeze flew in from the sea, as I made my way along higher ground, above the beach.
My goal was always to reach Sand Point, to climb to the headland to rediscover what I’d not seen for so long.
Even though it was Christmas and with blue skies overhead, I was surprised by the sheer number of people who were sharing this scenery. It’d been a long, long time since I’d walked in such a highly populated area.
It took a good thirty minutes to reach the steps leading up from the National Trust sign. Between the beach and the Sand Point car park, I found the ground to be very soft and the mud was a little deep in places. That might’ve explained where there were only a couple of others brave enough to make this same transition!
Sand Point’s car park was equally as full as the one at the other end of the beach. I hadn’t expected Sand Point to be as popular.
Behind many others ahead of me, I followed the defined but occasionally rock-laden footpath along the south side and on towards the tail-end, pointing west out to Flat Holm Island and South Wales (I think this is actually called Lizard Point on the maps).
Birnbeck Pier with Brean Down beyond.
When the time came to turn around, I seemed to be the only person willing to brave the path that continues along the northern side. I guess most (especially those with kids) are simply look for a short jaunt, some time to reflect and then back to the car.
It was much colder over here, with a lack of direct sunlight. My biggest mistake though was to force and almost climb my way through an ambush of brambles and thorns, which you can just see in the photo above. It lent me a few scars to carry home but, in all honesty, I could’ve easily chosen to walk around it!
There’s one footpath that continues rather blatantly ahead and then there are several others, including a detour down to the next rock bay, as you near the area known as Middle Hope.
I’d only previously walked along higher ground and I’m pleased I chose a different path this time, as I discovered the ruins of a building (possibly a house?) closer to the coast.
Looking back for a moment, I could see a paraglider (if that’s the correct term) who had just set down from above.
This section of beach marks my favourite spot in this area. If you spend some time and search amongst the rocks carefully, you may well uncover a few fossils, or so I’ve heard.
Woodspring Priory – Kewstoke, North Somerset.
Across and to the right, I could now see Woodspring Priory. But, from here, there’s still plenty of land to uncover.
Such a sunny day and with clear blue skies. You could see right across the channel to Cardiff and the south of Wales. Yet, the Mendip Hills were a little harder to depict.
Cross over a ladder-stile, march on with the coast in-tow and you’ll eventually reach a facility once owned by the Ministry of Defence.
They may still own it but I’ve since been informed that it was closed down a few years ago.
Apparently – and, I did not spot this – but there’s said to be a fence that’s been torn down, allowing for access at your own discretion (evidence of graffiti and petty vandalism could be seen through the fencing).
Staying on the right side of the fence though, there seems to be a great expanse of accessible land to explore, with only the minimal of ‘Private’ or ‘Keep Out’ signs. A couple of fishermen could be seen and heard down to my left. To my right would’ve been an old pier that I stumbled across on a visit eighteen months ago.
But as any coastal walker who’s ticked this section off their chart will be able to tell you; continuing north through Kingston Seymour and on to Clevedon is anything but easy going from here! Hopefully that will change once impending plans are put in to action. I, for one, would look forward to that walk.
Having witnessed all I’d hoped to see, I was now on way back towards the beach.
Sand Bay is not perhaps the most beautiful of Britain’s beaches. It’s blessed with more sand than some along this stretch of coastline but I favour it for its simplicity; the lack of noise, fuss and busy attractions.
But it’s almost certainly another one, like the others nearby, where you may not be overly inclined to take a dip in the mud-infested waters!
Steep Holm Island.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year to you all!