Minehead to Porlock Walk: SWCP Day One

Cliffs with moors in background

The Minehead to Porlock walk is the first (or last, depending on what way you’re doing it!) part of the South West Coast Path, one of the most famous long-distance walking routes in the UK. 

It encompasses 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, and passes through countless beach towns, epic coastal scenery, blissful countryside and one city (Plymouth). 

In this blog post, I’m going to go through the Minehead to Porlock walk. This is the walk we did, although the official route stops in Porlock Weir – I’ve included directions for this alternative walk too!

This coastal walk takes in the stunning features of Eastern Exmoor, including both moorland and sea, and you’ll see plenty of animals and plants en route.

Whether you’re looking for the best walks around Minehead, Porlock coastal walks, or are doing the whole 630 mile long trail like us, hopefully this blog post will help your planning!

How to get to Minehead

View of Minehead Beach

To do the Minehead to Porlock Weir walk, you’ve got to get to Minehead! The 28 bus runs from Taunton, where there is a national rail link to London, Bristol, and other places. 

I booked tickets on the 28 bus at the same time as my National Express coach from Exeter to Taunton. However, you can pay on board. 

What to do in Minehead

Backpacker walking along beach by Minehead

Minehead is a popular tourist town and one of the best things to do here is just to relax on the beach.

If you reach the town the day before your Minehead to Porlock walk, you might like to spend a day just chilling out here, enjoying some al fresco dining and maybe playing a round of crazy golf by Jubilee Cafe. 

Nearby, there’s also the West Somerset Railway which takes you from Bishop’s Lydeyard and the compact Medieval town of Dunster which has Dunster Castle

Where to stay in Minehead

Minehead is one of the most popular places to stay in Somerset, so you have lots of options here!

The Old Ship Aground is a pub with rooms upstairs. It is an affordable place to stay and is located in a prime location in Minehead. Click here for rates and to book your room.

The Beach Hotel is a historic dog-friendly place to stay in the middle of town, offering sweeping Bristol channel views from some of its windows. Click here for rates and to reserve your stay.

Alcombe House Hotel is a modern B&B with trendy, comfortable rooms and free on-site parking. Click here for more information.

Minehead to Porlock walk Instructions 

The Minehead to Porlock walk isn’t too strenuous, but there is a steep uphill bit at the beginning and a very steep downhill part at the end. You will need a decent level of fitness for these parts, including experience with whatever weight you’re carrying.

Other than that, it is more or less flat – either along the coastline or along the cliff tops. It is around 15km or 9 miles long, and official guidance is that it takes 5.5 hours, but it was more like 6.5 hours for us with stops.

We left Minehead at about 12:30pm, after travelling from South Devon that day, and reached Porlock at around 7pm.

Start in Minehead and walk in a westerly direction, until you come to the official start of the path. 

South West Coast Bath Beginning

Follow this path for a while. It stays flat for a bit, with some lovely views of the sea, and then starts going upwards. Eventually it will start to zig zag as it goes uphill. Keep an eye out for the acorn signs which indicate where to go. 

View of sea near Minehead

Eventually you’ll reach open moorland. The path is quite clearly marked here, and it is mostly flat. 

There is a rugged coastal path that you can take, which runs a lot closer to the sea. The official guidebook says that this isn’t much more strenuous, but to me it looked tough, and we didn’t fancy it on day one of the hike! 

Moorland meeting sea is what defines Exmoor, and this is a prime example. The highest point is Selworthy Beacon, from which you’ll be able to see Dunkery Beacon (the highest point of Somerset), the Exmoor Coastline and South Wales in the distance. Also, look out for Steep Holm and Flat Holm, two small islands in the Bristol Channel. 

Path with sea in the background

Wildlife wise, you may see Exmoor ponies and red deer, as well as plenty of birdlife. If you’re interested in flora, there are West Country plants – nightjars and Dartford warblers – on this route.

Keep walking through the moorland until you see Porlock in the distance. You don’t follow the road down, but take the footpath which eventually comes to a steep stony downhill path.

I didn’t enjoy this – it was very steep and my ankles and knees didn’t feel ready for it – but as long as you take your time, you should be fine.

Starting descent into Bossington

Once you get to the beach, turn left and follow a stream to Bossington. This is a National Trust area with a tearoom. There are free to use public toilets here.

Porlock isn’t far now. If you are doing the Minehead to Porlock Weir walk just follow the coastline, or if you are going inland to Porlock walk inland through a few fields. You might need the maps.me app or an IOS map for this part as it is off the coast path. 

Where to stay in Porlock 

I recommend staying in Porlock Holiday Park. They have a huge field for campers and accept walk-ins. The campground has an epic view over the coastline and is close to the village centre.

If you’re looking for a room in Porlock, try the Ship Inn. This pub has rooms upstairs and is a friendly and welcoming place. 

Where to stay in Porlock Weir

If you’re looking for a hotel in the area, try the Porlock Weir Hotel. This is a great place to rest your feet and recharge for the big hike the next day – or to base yourself so you can see some of this part of Exmoor! The rooms are furnished well and you’ll be able to enjoy a delicious breakfast every morning. Click here for more information.

Where to eat in Porlock and Porlock Weir

Scenic Porlock Weir in Somerset, South West England

You won’t be short of options when camping in Porlock or staying in Porlock Weir  – there are plenty of options in both settlements. 

  • We ate in the Ship Inn. This historic coaching inn serves lots of different dishes with some veggie options – including a veggie burger, curry, and pizza – as well as a range of local drinks. 
  • There’s also The Big Cheese, a cafe and deli that serves breakfast and takeaway pasties. They do a vegan pasty with Quorn mince, which was lovely on the next day’s hike!
  • Locanda on the Weir is an Italian restaurant in Porlock Weir, serving tasty and hearty pizza and pasty dishes.
  • Or, visit Ziangs on the Weir for noodles and other Asian street food in Porlock Weir.

Things to do in Porlock and Porlock Weir 

Pretty village of Porlock, Somerset

If you aren’t rushing off to do the Porlock to Lynmouth hike the next day (you’ll need all day for this one!), there are a few things to do in the area. 

  • Oyster tasting at Porlock Weir
  • Strolling around Porlock village, which is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Somerset.
  • Walk to Porlock Weir at sunrise. This is one of the best short walks around Porlock and you might end up doing the same route if you’re doing day two of the South West Coast Path, but it is lovely as the sun comes up!
  • Go kayaking around Porlock Weir. 
  • Marvel at the epic Exmoor coastline.

Getting back to Minehead

If you want to get back to Minehead, the only feasible way is to take a taxi. Try booking with Minehead Taxis on 01643 704123. Most mobile providers have signal in Porlock, but it’s a good idea to ring ahead and ask about their availability even if you aren’t 100% sure on time. 

Continuing on the South West Coast Path

Next up is the Porlock to Lynmouth hike, which we found much tougher! So make sure that you’re ready for it (be ruthless with what kit you do and don’t need!) and check back here shortly for a full summary!

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