The South West Coast Path is done but now there is another path to follow, as we still have some time and energy left. The ammonite emblem directs us along the promenade and up to the station, where we catch a train to Blue Anchor, some five miles up the coast – the plan is to walk back to Minehead. The fortunes of the West Somerset Railway have ebbed and waned over the years, and it has been pulled back from the brink of extinction a few times. Currently it has fifty paid staff and a key input from 900 volunteers. Running both steam and diesel trains up the twenty mile line to Bishops Lydeard, it is the longest heritage railway in England. Unfortunately for us there is no steam train for another two hours so we take the old diesel train.
Two stops up the line is Blue Anchor where we are met by this slightly worrying sign – but the sea is miles away so we hobble off down the pebbled beach.
It is hard work walking on the pebbles, not helped by a strong headwind but around Dunster it changes to mud and stones and then later to proper sand.
For a quarter of a mile a row of quite substantial beach chalets stand guard………..
We have now reached an area called The Warren where the path skirts the golf course at Minehead. This warning is a new one on me………………………………………..
And last but not least we arrive at the gates of the Promised Land………………………
I think I’m right in saying that my parents were very scornful of a Butlins holiday but that could just be me. Looking at it now that I am a parent (and grandparent) I can definitely see the allure for families. Offers include indoor and outdoor pleasure pools, a circus, live entertainment (including a weekend of live electronic music), a funfair, family friendly restaurants and if you ever need to escape the pressure of so much fun there is a long sandy beach and woodland walks in the hills above the town. Talking of which I also discover that the stainless steel scallop shell, placed at regular intervals along the front, is an attempt by the local authority to tempt the inmates of Butlins out into the streets of the town. There is a mile of them starting from the entrance to Butlins all along the promenade to the harbour – the Maritime Mile Trail.
Distance: 5 miles