The South West Coastal Path starts in nearby Minehead passes through Porlock Weir offering great walks in either direction. Head east around Porlock Bay with its unique combination of shingle beach and saltmarsh teeming with wildlife, which has seen it classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The large shingle ridge usually protects the marshes behind it from the worst of the winter storms but was breached in 1996, transforming the previously freshwater marshes into their current saline form and leaving behind the eerie skeletons of dead trees. Climb the cliffs at Hurlstone Point at the other end of the bay for sweeping views across Bristol Channel.
Walking west towards the beautiful village of Lynmouth, sitting in its dramatic river gorge, you walk over a rugged rocky coastline of undulating moorland towards Countisbury and Foreland Point. The route between Porlock Weir and Lynmouth offers amazing vantage points inland across Exmoor as well as across the Bristol Channel to the Welsh hills beyond. You can opt for more sheltered woodland walks near the shore or head up onto the moors a little to enjoy the windswept openness.
An easy two-mile walk from Porlock Weir is the lovely village of Porlock with its impressive array of independent shops, complete with a butcher, cheesemonger and deli, post office, pharmacy and a handful of tempting pubs and cafés. Take a stroll to Porlock and meander about admiring its quaint historic buildings, browse its gallery, antiques and local craft shops before settling down to a cream tea at one of its welcoming tea rooms. During the summer months, you could also dip into the volunteer-run Doverhay Manor Museum, also known as Porlock Museum, to learn about the history of the village and surrounding area.
Just a half-hour walk from Porlock Weir is the intimate and verdantly beautiful Greencombe Gardens, a 3.5 acre terraced strip nestled among the wooded coastal slopes teeming with rare plants. The extraordinary organic gardens were first created in 1946 by Horace Stroud then further developed, nurtured and protected by Joan Lorraine for 50 years until her death in 2016 when they passed into the care of her nephew.
With its moss covered woodland paths and abundance of ferns and ornamental plants growing beneath the canopy of oaks, hollies, chestnuts and conifers, Greencombe has a natural appearance but its many rare plants have all been carefully planted and tended with the help of between 25 and 30 tonnes of home produced compost and leaf-mould each year. Key attractions include a champion English holly tree, which is the largest and oldest in the UK and a Green Room which holds the garden records and paintings by Exmoor artist, Jon Hurford. Greencombe is an inspiration to expert gardeners and amateurs alike.
Head down to this hub of all things outdoor and active and hire a mountain bike for just £25 per day to explore the nearby Exmoor hills – or if you think your fitness might not be up to the test you could opt for some assistance on the uphill stretches with their E-mountain bikes. Within cycling distance of Porlock Weir is Porlock Hill, County Hill, Horner Woods and Dunkery Beacon – the highest point on Exmoor, standing at 519 metres above sea level, with incredible 360-degree views for miles across the rambling patchwork countryside of Devon and Somerset.
If cycling doesn’t tickle your fancy, they can also take you paddleboarding or kayaking in Porlock Bay from where you can get a new perspective on the amazing coastline, or test your nerves rock climbing in the nearby Valley of Rocks. Exmoor Adventures also offers more unusual pursuits such as archery, coasteering and tree climbing among its broad range of activities, so there’s bound to be something that appeals to everyone.
Delve into the history of Porlock Weir from its 13th-century beginnings with a quick visit to this small museum packed with information and artefacts collated by local fisherman, photographer and historian, Derek Purvis. It is an extraordinarily eclectic collection exploring the tiny port’s past as a trade route for corn, flour, bark for tanning, bricks and oysters. It also provides an insight into the ongoing battle with nature to keep the tidal harbour navigable with annual sluicing carried out to maintain the channel. If you are a real history nut and want to learn even more about the local area’s past head down the road to the Doveray Manor Museum and The Allerford Rural Life Museum.
Test out your falconry skills, flying owls and hawks back to your gloved hand during a visit to the Exmoor Owl and Hark Centre at West Lynch Farm. You can also watch one of the impressive hour and a half long flying displays which run four days a week throughout the summer. During the display, you will learn about the behaviour, training and personalities of the birds while watching them soaring through the skies.
Once you’ve exhausted all there is to see of the birds of prey, you can head out for a ride across some of the surrounding moorland while kids of six plus can enjoy a lead pony ride to Bossington and back on Tom, a Clydesdale, Rosie, a Welsh cob or Ryan, the Appaloosa.
Visitors can also explore the gardens around the 15th-century property before settling in the lovely tea gardens to enjoy an Exmoor cream tea. The Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre can keep the whole family entertained all day.
All these sights and attractions can be visited from Porlock Weir Hotel without the need for a car, as long as you don’t mind a decent walk. But since the countryside is so beautiful, getting around on foot is a delight – weather permitting.
If you want more advice and information on things to do and see in Exmoor and around Porlock Weir, please don’t hesitate to contact our hotel where any of our staff will be able to help.