Brean Down is somewhere I hadn't been to for a very long time. It's a huge rocky outcrop that juts a couple of kilometres out into the Bristol Channel a little to the south of Weston-super-Mare. (Weston's name always makes me laugh; it is so obviously a local corruption of Weston sur la mer but always makes me think of a horse on speed!) The Down is a really prominent feature in the mudflat landscape that surrounds it. I have no idea why all the places in this area that have 'down' in their name are actually 'ups'!
Driving there is bizarre; leading through caravan parks and seedy holidaymaking areas of the chips with everything, tasteless beer, 'Kiss me quick' hats and popcorn variety, but eventually you come to a cafe and a car park and can turn your back on the thousands of caravans and see this huge rocky limestone cliff in front of you. Put it all behind you and Brean Down is one of the more inspiring places to visit in the South West of England.
Anyway, on to the photos.
The tide was out and the estuary of the River Axe and the bay that has Weston sitting in it was one huge mudflat. As a local I wonder what people see in places like that as somewhere to spend their holiday. I can think of a million places I would rather be than a tawdry Victorian resort with its best days a hundred years behind it, but, each to their own, I suppose.
This muddy channel is the River Axe
I was staggered to see that the whole promentory was carpetted in wild flowers.
There were bluebells everywhere. The blue tinge to the hill you can see in the near distance is because of the bluebells.
I know from personal experience just how windy it can be in this area at any time of the year and the trees bore this out delightfully.
The cliffs on the south side of Brean Down
On the thin-soiled limestone of those cliffs, the most noticeable plant flowering was the rare White Rock Rose. It grows in abundance on Brean Down, at its most northerly world limit, and is only known to exist in two other places in Britain. I think it looks like a mass of fried eggs!
More trees struggling to stay attached to the ground on the exposed top of the Down.
From the highest point, looking south along the beaches of Brean and Berrow with Brent Knoll on the horizon.
Bluebells growing amongst the sorrel.
I was surprised to come across goats as I walked out along the promentory.
Again looking south. As you can see, when it goes out the tide goes out a very long way.
At the end of Brean Down there is a fort. More of that later.
As I was nearing the end the sun broke through. These people were enjoying the evening sunshine on this high place.
Cowslips took over from bluebells on the west and northern sides of the slopes.
In the next installment: the nineteenth century fort and World War Two defences and the walk back.