A Christmas constitutional along the seafront of this Somerset seaside town has been a popular tradition since Victorian times.
Clevedon, overlooking the Severn estuary, is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a small village with few inhabitants. It grew in prominence in the Victorian era as a popular seaside resort and still has an attractive pier from the era, which made a guest appearance in One Direction’s music video for the song You & I.
Start your festive stroll at the far end of Old Church Road in the west end of town. Walk past the allotments, go through the wooden gateway and follow the green ‘Poets Walk’ signposts up to Wain’s Hill. More adventurous members of the family could scramble up an alternative and unmarked rocky route that starts, a little further along, at Clevedon Pill.
Pausing to catch your breath at the top, look across the Bristol Channel to the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm and the distant Mendip Hills. Listen for the melancholy calls of curlew on the mudflats below which are swept by the second highest tides in the world. As the path’s name suggests, poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Alfred Tennyson are said to have been inspired by these far-reaching views during their visits to Clevedon.
Follow the route around the headland – the site of an iron age hillfort – and behind the 12th Century church of St. Andrew’s. This was the setting for many of the scenes from ITV’s crime-drama, Broadchurch, much of which was filmed in Clevedon. Further along, you’ll find ‘The Lookout’. Erected in 1835, this was said to have been used by sugar importers to watch for ships arriving from the Caribbean. Today, it’s the perfect place to spot the resident pair of peregrine falcons patrolling their coastline territory.
Head downhill to the recently renovated Marine Lake – a popular sea-filled pool used by kayakers, tri-athletes and crabbers – and walk along the seafront. Look out for some interesting landmarks on the way, including the Victorian bandstand and the much-photographed, windswept yew tree.
What better way to finish your walk than by promenading on the pier? This Grade I-listed structure was described by Sir John Betjeman as ‘the most beautiful pier in England’. Opened in 1869, it received paddle steamers from Devon and Wales and you can take a trip back in time on one of these ships in the summer months.
More recently, Clevedon Pier provided the backdrop for a One Direction video that took top prize at the 2015 Brit Awards.
If you’ve got Christmas calories to burn, then come back on New Year’s Day to join in with the annual fancy-dress dip in the Bristol Channel on the beach below.