"The Misplaced Village" Porlock by johngayton

Porlock Travel Guide: 34 reviews and 97 photos

The Somerset village of Porlock nestles in a dip towards the end of a combe (Hawkcombe) heading towards the Bristol Channel and is physically located about halfway between Lynmouth and Minehead. Metaphysically though consensus has it that it should be much closer to Lynmouth as the village shares far more characteristics with the former than the latter - in fact we reckon it shouldn't be in Somerset at all!

This stretch of the North Devon/Somerset coast is part of the 267 square miles of dramatically diverse scenery of the Exmoor National Park whose coastal reach extends from Devon's Combe Martin and finishes at Minehead. Whilst within the park's boundaries the landscape may vary enormously there is a unifying feel to the various towns and villages which is especially evident to those of us who enjoy the pubs and the people we meet in them.

Of course my personal impression of Porlock is tinted by the amber viewpoint through the bottom of a pint glass and the pubs are indeed welcoming and individual. The High Street has pretty much everything a village needs and manages to do so with a very minimal prescence of big name signage - the Post Office is the only "brand" that caught my eye. There's a few touristy sort of shops, a little local museum, the Exmoor Classic Cars exhibition and some very postcard-inspiring buildings but these are very low-key and add interest rather than dominate.

The village centres around its church, the 13th century (with later additions)Anglican St Dubricius and the community spirit is evident from the abundance of local notices attached to its railings advertising all manner of spiritual and secular activities. These range from a forthcoming concert by the Minehead Male Voice Choir to a "Grow Your Own Food" set of workshops and with all sorts in-between.

Porlock Weir

Sort of similarly to Lynton and Lynmouth Porlock has a sibling village, Porlock Weir, on its eponymous bay. The two villages are about a mile apart and connected both by road and by a public footpath.

No visit to Porlock is complete without taking the walk down to the Weir passing the eerie submerged forest, with its salt-bleached bare trees, the bay's pebble-banked beach and the street of 17th century thatched cottages before arriving at the thousand year old harbour.

There are, of course, a couple of pubs here which makes the journey all the more worthwhile and so for a serious mini-pub crawl you can start with the couple of east end Porlock pubs (the Royal Oak and the Castle), digress down to the Weir's Anchor and Bottom Ship and then finish off with the friendly public bar of the Top Ship back in the main village.

Porlock Hill

Another similarity with Lynmouth is the fearsome hill leading in and out of the village to the west. Simply known as "Porlock Hill" the 1-in-4 gradient for much of its length makes this the steepest section of "A" road in the UK (the similarly steep Lynmouth Hill is on the "B" road - 3234).

There's a sign at the top of the hill advising cyclists to dismount and unless you are into extreme sports then you should heed that advice. As to cycling up the hill - forget it - take the scenic toll road instead and if you want to avoid having to pay you can bypass the toll collection using the public bridleway.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Cracking Pubs and Laid-back People
  • Cons:None unless you have to walk up the hill!
  • In a nutshell:The County Line Should Be Moved!
  • Last visit to Porlock: Jul 2011
  • Intro Updated Dec 22, 2011
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Reviews (18)

Comments (1)

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Dec 22, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    I'm quite sure that I have once been on a quick visit to Porlock :-)

johngayton

“The slow lane often gets you there faster”

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