Clevedon pier

End of May 2021 and bank holiday weekend. The weather forecast is looking good (long overdue) so fingers crossed as ET is prepared once again for another staycation departure. This time our destination is Clevedon in Somerset. Home to the famous Poets walk and Marine Lake, the world's largest infinity pool (2 football fields) with a difference. It's wild swimming in cold sea water where tide and time wait.

Departure

The kit list grows! Each time we travel there's always something we add to our inventory. This time we have new outdoor chairs, lights for decorating the awning (gotta see it to believe it!) more cushions and throws. Oh I've also added some retro wheel trims to ET. Slowly but surely our Eriba is signature stamped.

Our destination, Clevedon in Somerset, thankfully a shorter journey this time, or so we hoped!

We left home just after 10am and it should have been a 2 hour journey! Add an hour to that, courtesy of Bristol, the car park that is the M5 gateway south. Hardly surprising with a bank holiday weekend and warm weather on the cards. We arrived around 1.15pm.

Hitched & Ready

Hitched & Ready

ET & sun canopy

ET & sun canopy

Set up

The site we chose was a small CL in Clevedon, Somerset and was perfectly chosen/located for access to the beach, walks and Clevedon. In this respect it was brilliant. Upon arrival, we chose a nice corner pitch and there were a couple of empty spaces to choose from.  It was an all grass field with electric hook up (ehu) and whilst a bit noisier than other sites we have stayed (working farm) we were happy.

It didn't take long to position ET and run through the usual set up, the weather was warm and pleasant too! One major change to our outside living space was the awning. We have ditched/sold the pop up air awning (Kampa 365). Been on a journey with awnings and it is a hot topic on many a forum about which awning is best.

It's very personal and there is no absolute right solution. For us we originally invested in a frame awning tent, which got binned after 1 use due the pain of setting up and ugliness! We then invested heavily in a Troll designed Kampa air inflated 365 model. Our choice of this tent awning version was to provide extra outdoor living space for our dog, Aurora and us to a lesser extent. However after only a few trips with the Kampa, which was great and easy to erect, we found the space never got used by the dog, nor ourselves. It also prevented the full outdoor experience as you would normally get with a canopy. We felt the full tent awning masked the beauty and retro simplicity/lines of our wonderful Eriba and we really did not need an enclosed outdoor space, so we decided to exploit that and use a fully open canopy. Another lesson learned on our relatively naive journey into caravan touring! 

Out & About

After settling, it was time to explore! Camera bag packed and Aurora in tow we took the brief 2 min walk along the road and picked up the river, Blind Yeo, following its path all the way to the coast. What a lovely walk this was, the river bursting with wildlife and birdsong and the other side of the water was Clevedon Golf course, a perfect links course and spectacular setting. 

As we progressed dark clouds appeared and rain looked imminent. Nothing forecast I thought so we carried on and soon reached the end of the river (weir) blocking its direct access to the sea, hence the name. Past the weir and the Clevedon coast opened up. What a sight. Not the clear blue water and stunning clifftop scenery of Cornwall but it had an earthy beauty. The tide was out, in fact well out, and this part of the Severn Estuary experiences a huge tidal range, at best nearly 14m. That is some height differential and why this part of the UK sees the 2nd highest tidal range in the world! The famous Severn Bore spawns from this incredible tidal shift.

With tide out there was an immense mud flat leading out to sea. There is a small harbour here with a few sailing and fishing boats and all flattened out on the mud floor, as if someone had pulled the plug. It was very scenic (and I thought would make a good sunset scene, so bookmarked). We followed the coast path, taking photos of the muddy harbour and coast line until we reached the famous Poets Walk. An easy walk with lots of woody paths as it elevates above the Clevedon coastline, offering spectacular views across the mouth of the Severn Estuary with Wales the other side. The walk is only a mile in length and includes a wealth of features including limestone grassland, woodland an Iron Age fort and stunning views.  Its name references famous poets like Samuel Taylor Coleridge & Alfred Tennyson both inspired by their frequent visits to Clevedon. It also runs past the beautiful St Andrews church, made famous for scenes filmed in the tv series Broadchurch (more on this later!).

As we commenced the upward path to the top of Poets Walk the stunning views across the Bristol Channel played out, wow! It also highlighted those dark clouds were getting ever closer and bringing more rain than we anticipated. We decided to turn back, which was a good call, as shortly after the heavens opened. With no rain jacket I got soaked but this set our stall for tomorrows plans. We'd be back!

Poets Walk

Awoke early after a good night in ET (Aren't first nights always!) and after a short dog walk to stretch Aurora's legs, down by the river, we were ready for Clevedon, part 2.

One thing we learned (from a discussion with the site owner) that Clevedon was used extensively as a location for the filming of the ITV drama series Broadchurch. I never knew that! After a bit of research there were lots of locations in Clevedon where it was filmed. Our explore Clevedon plans were starting to shape up nicely!

Poets walk signs

Poets walk signs

Broadchurch

Just around the corner from our site, and the Blind Yeo river was an open green space. We noticed it yesterday but never knew it had been the scene of many a Broadchurch backdrop. It sits just around the corner from the weir overlooking the coast and with St Andrews church and houses to its rear and called Marshall's field (so named after being gifted to the people of Clevedon in 1967 by Sarah Marshall in honour of her husband - how nice!).  There was one photo doing the rounds on the web showing David Tenant (DI Alec Hardy) standing next to Olivia Colman (Sgt Ellie Miller) with Marshall's Field in the background. 

I'd spent the night before working out from Google maps roughly where this was! How sad am I? Well we found it and, as you do, Deb & I positioned ourselves in the same pose, (or thereabout) and took a selfie. The real actors are difficult to spot if you look at the photo :-)

That was scene 1 ;-). We continued along that coast path, following the route taken yesterday, (before rain stopped play) and ascended up Poets walk, through some woodland before arriving at the summit. What a place and walk this is. The open green space, wildlife and tree lined coast walk overlooking the Bristol Channel was stunning. It was easy to see why poets took inspiration from the place! Every corner was an inspirational postcard photo moment, and I was busy with camera again! 

As we descended along the path we soon came alongside St Andrews church and once again another Broadchurch filming location. It is a magnificent church, Grade 1 listed,  with a coastal graveyard. Beautiful is not the right word to describe a graveyard but you can see why it was chosen for a filming location! I got to work and found the exact spot that was used for the funeral scenes (Danny). I'm getting rather good at this game!

Marine Lake

We continued down the hill and before long the pier at Clevedon popped into view, nestled between the tree line path. It looked a stunning structure, even from this far away. The path snaked and wound downhill through arching trees, past an iron age fort monument before opening out to the edge of Clevedon Marine Lake. Wow, never seen anything like it before, it was huge, the size of 2 football fields, and with its infinity edge, leading your eye towards the pier and sea, it pretty much took your breath away. No doubt the same when you got in the cool sea water! There were a few people swimming and a number of paddle boats, which seem to be the latest crave hitting seaside towns this year! It took a few minutes to walk around such was the size. Sadly dogs are not allowed in the area so we could only peer over the promenade wall, but it was enough. When you get close and look out at the infinity pool with sea and pier its amazing. Claimed to be the biggest infinity pool in the world, I can believe it!

We stopped for an ice cream and the van selling was a retro airstream rocket type van. It reminded us so much of our own Eriba we just had to grab a few pics. The ice cream was delicious too, highly recommended.

Marine Lake

Marine Lake

Worlds largest Infinity pool, with Clevedon pier in background

Clevedon Pier

We continued walking along the promenade towards the pier. It wasn't too busy neither (for a Saturday) but expected that to change on BH Monday. We stopped at a fish n chip shop, sat and admired the local view. Aurora was treated to a sausage and polished off the chips we couldn't finish. Cracking food, you just can't beat seaside fish n chips!

Energy boost complete we pushed on towards the pier. By now we had covered some distance in the warm weather. Aurora was doing fine with regular water breaks on the route provided by kind traders. We reached the pier and again wow was the key response. What a treasure and beautiful structure. Described as the most beautiful pier in England and it was easy to see why. Also voted pier of the year 2021. Construction started in 1867, opening in 1869 Clevedon pier was a stunning example of the Victorian era and decadence. It met with disaster in 1970 after partially collapsing, following load testing which made National news at the time. Restoration took place along with much politics and hardship to complete repairs in the late 80s although final pieces of the jigsaw did not see full restoration until 1998!

I tell you what though, it was worth every penny. What a magnificent structure and as you walk along the wooden deck it takes you back to that historic period in time. A must visit in Clevedon.

We finished the afternoon at the end of the pier drinking tea and eating cake in the pier cafe, overlooking the muddy waters of the Bristol Channel, the Severn Bridge in the distance (another feat of modern day engineering).

The walk back, through Clevedon, past the marine lake, back up Poets Walk and finally to the caravan site was a hike. We certainly covered some steps and Aurora was absolutely shattered. The cool beer went down well!

Deb wild smimming

Deb wild smimming

Clevedon marine lake

Bank Holiday madness

The next few days (Sun & Mon) were, to be fair, typical bank holiday madness with regards crowds and business. The weather ramped up to hot sunny days so options for taking the dog on long walks were limited. We did hope to drive down and visit Weston, but one look at Google maps put pay to that with traffic! 

Our plan was therefore to enjoy the last few days of sun. We did venture back into Clevedon on both Sunday and Monday and the people/number/queues, compared to Friday/Saturday was staggering. Fish n chip shop was stupid long (not worth bothering) although we did repeat our visit to the retro ice cream van :-)

One of the things we wanted to experience was wild swimming in the marine lake. It is hard with a dog alongside but Deb braved it, whilst I held back Aurora, who wanted to follow her, but couldn't. We both panted it out in the shade. 

Many an hour was then spent sitting in the sun back at the site, getting away from the crowds, sitting, sleeping and listening to birdsong, accompanied by the odd drink or two. For me this was the ideal way to spend a mad bank holiday, I hate crowds.

One thing I was keen to do was shoot the sunset so that was my next plan.

Sunset

From my first day of arrival/exploring it was clear this location would make for a great sunset. Sun setting over the Bristol Channel with water and mud landscape would bring an interesting scene. It did not fail! In this respect I ventured out with my Olympus gear on a few occasions.

I used both a zoom lens (100-400mm) and wider angle (12-40mm) in order to capture the low sunlight reflection off the mud and sea. A great combination and lots of photos followed. Some of the golden sun over water shots are stunning.  Indeed it was a fabulous location for capturing the Somerset setting sun.

Untitled photo

Landscape and final thoughts

There is some stunning landscape in this wonderful part of Somerset, which accompanies the small harbour, Poets Walk and winding walks. This final gallery hopefully demonstrates this. I was very busy with panorama shooting too. Essentially shooting multiple shots covering a wide area and which I stitch together in software. An effective way of capturing perspective and beauty in a single panoramic scene, so a few of these are featured :-)

I had a camera memory card failure in last few days which caused a bit of angst as there was little I could do until returning home, with a view to hopefully repairing (I was lucky).

Clevedon has been a fantastic adventure, something a bit different and whilst I wouldn't normally entertain travelling on a busy bank holiday, nothing is normal in the world at present, so hey ho.

Until the next adventure, thanks for reading :-)

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