The Bristol Post said recently that Clevedon’s biggest attraction is its Victorian Pier. Although its history and beauty is without doubt, it is a very strong statement to make considering the many landmarks that populate the town’s streets. Not many places can boast to name a few, one of the longest continually running, purpose built cinemas in the world or one of the few surviving manorial halls in England, in the form of Clevedon Court. However it is the pier and seafront’s many calls from Hollywood and the small screen which have led to this opinion.
Clevedon’s seafront played the backdrop for Remains of the Day, an Academy Award nominated film starring Anthony Hopkins, whilst the Pier was the focal point for the Kiera Knightley Sci-Fi Drama Never Let Me Go. Just this year alone Clevedon welcomed back David Tennant to its seafront for the second series TV thriller Broadchurch placing little Clevedon on TV screens and Cinema screens across the world.
However hiding away from the glamour of the seafront. Nestled away from the holiday destination of families past and present, is Poets Walk, the real attraction of Clevedon. Poets Walk is concealed discretely hugging at the Severn Estuary further away from Clevedon’s picturesque seafront and Pier. Receiving its name from the many poets who used it for inspiration whilst occupying Clevedon such as Tennyson, Coleridge and Hallam, Poets Walk opens up wide, breathtaking views of the Bristol Channel whilst hiding away intimate pathways and viewpoints across the small Somerset town.
Poets Walk is made up of different loops with each unearthing unseen sights that cannot be seen from the stretch of seaside. One of the smaller loops makes a focal point of St. Andrews Church, one of the film locations for Broadchurch. As you follow the path, the trees that escort you, cover over you giving you the feeling of protection. The intimate footpath is rather steep but with the beauty of the walk especially in spring or summer it is enough to keep you moving, urging you to discover and see more.
The main characteristic of Poets Walk is to stop you in your tracks and draw you into something. This maybe something small like a tiny breakaway in the trees or surrounding which is begging to be explored and undiscovered or something far bigger. You are allowed to be a child again when you visit. There are so many nooks and crannies around this area that it is not as simple sometimes as following the path.
One these examples is perched onto the cliffside. It’s a restored watchtower or look out which looks like it has been transplanted from a grand castle. The story goes that the look out was originally erected by a small Clevedon family to keep watch over their incoming trade ships from the West Indies and further afield. This like many of the man made and natural sights around the walk entice you and allow you to re-live times gone by. The tall tower with its openings on each side and turrets above, take you back to a bygone era as you look out over the water.
The beauty continues as you follow the main route. It was first paved in the eighteenth century and is quite simply a tarmac carpet that separates you from the luscious towering green banks on one side and the very edge of the coastal wall down to the sea below. When there are breaks in the bushes on your right you can catch a glimpse out to sea.
As you climb higher and higher you reach an opening. From there at any angle you can see sights of beauty and tranquility. The viewpoint opens up the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel. Further out at sea, large ships who use this water highway towards the docks seem to slow down. Playing the story of the sea on the surface with smaller fishing boats and even jet skis populating the water around it. Further around is a small dock where these small boats just pitch and rise as they bob on the incoming tide. Its surrounded by the mud flats which are a well known spot to find Clevedon’s wildlife and bird residents.
The real treat however is at this point the massive banks that towered over you before now become a smaller, grassy podium which you climb on and see out. The path continues to snake around this pedestal. This is the top of what is known as Wain’s Hill which provides views across Clevedon and its surrounding towns in the distance, and even along the Welsh coast on the other side. With all the sights, sounds and even the smells that this location creates, it is not hard to see why some of the best poets were able to find inspiration and create wonderful pieces here.
However just breaking up the carpet of green is a boxy concrete construction, one of the hidden treasures unbeknownst to the people below and intruders from the sea. What hides away up here is a former World War II pillbox. These small buildings were constructed and placed in strategic places along the UK coast as fears of a German invasion increased. Over the years Wain’s Hill has been used as a vantage point thanks to its open views across the Bristol Channel. It was even the home of an old iron-age hill fort. The pillbox now has a locked door to preserve it and keep its original features. However it doesn’t stop you from feeling how it must have to been to be stationed on the hill. Today it is much calmer at the top and is the perfect place for a picnic, dog walking or a sit down on one of the many benches.
Poets Walk is something that Clevedon can be and is very proud of. It seems to bring the best out of people as it always remains tidy and you always greet a friendly face on any of the many paths that make up this wonderful walk. So it seems that the case is just as strong for Poets Walk being the biggest and best attraction Clevedon has to offer. Although it is not as well known yet and is far from being Hollywood’s darling, Poets Walk offers anyone young or old the chance to explore the wonders of this natural landscape and enjoy the great outdoors in one of Somerset’s, if not England’s finest and most beautiful towns.