So here we are again – my second Friday off.

My last visit to Brean Down was at least 20 years ago, when the children were small. Time to refresh my memory, I thought.

It was a lovely day. Sunny and cold – perfect for a bracing walk in the great outdoors. I would have liked to take Bailey and Harvey, but my Smart car is not built for them. Besides, they are getting on a bit and I anticipated a bit of a climb.

They didn’t seem too bothered………..

bailey-and-harvey

Well, it’s been 20 years, so to stop me getting lost amongst the levels and the reans, I got directions from the man in my life, who drives locally for a living and knows the way.

40 minutes later, I’d arrived to find Brean deserted. So peaceful!

Parking troubles again…

Now I would imagine that in the summer, when all the Brean caravan parks are full, Brean Down is a busy place. The 3 big car parks must usually be full, providing a good income for their owners.However, being winter, perhaps today there would be room to park?

When I got to the end of the road , I could see only 2 other cars within a half-mile radius. Both were parked on the mini roundabout that serves as a turning circle . I drove into a car park, expecting winter parking to be free, and that’s when it dawned on me why the 2 cars were parked in a bit of a stupid place – the car park was still a pound an hour!!

Humph! (OMG – I’m turning into a grumpy old woman……)

2 minutes later, I’d tucked my little car up behind the other two and walked away towards Brean Down.

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View of the free ‘cark park’!

 

View from Brean Down steps; it’s a long way up – and down!

brean-down-steps

steps-down

 

Looks steep, doesn’t it?

It certainly made me puff, but it was worth it, as you will see from the photos .

 

 

 

 

I stopped several times on the way up to admire the view – and to get my breath back! It’s amazing how the views change as you get further up. This is a view of Brean Sands from half way up the zigzagging steps. There was a solitary car on the beach – obviously avoiding the parking charges….. !

Can you spot my car?

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Wow – what a view!

After a good 10 minute climb I reached the top. Wow! The first thing that struck me was how far away Weston was.The vista included Birnbeck Pier and the whole of Weston seafront.

brean-down-view-of-weston

To my right I could see across the sands to Uphill, looking down on the church and the cliffs. It looked pretty small and low. It definitely isn’t – I abseiled down the cliffs for charity a few years ago and it felt huge to me then!

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A long walk to the fort

The air was bracing to say the least. I was glad for my woolly hat and gloves, although it was gorgeously sunny and bright.brean-down-fitbit

Now, if you read my first blog, you will know that I have Fitbit-itsis! I’m a 10,000 steps-a-day woman. I’ve worked in London for much of this year, where walking reasonable distances is easy. I was doing 12,000 steps a day without even noticing. Trouble is, since I’ve been back working at home, a 40-minute walk with the dogs is only 3,000 steps….

By the time I’d walked to the fort and back to the car, I’d hit my day’s goal – at 11.30 in the morning!

 

It was a good walk, but hilly and rocky – not really suitable unless you are relatively fit, and a bit dangerous for dogs. Later, I posted a few pictures of my walk on Facebook. I’m a member of the group called Weston-super-Mare ~ Then and Now , and have seen some great photos of the Weston area there. The group was discussing walking dogs on Brean Down, and it turns out that doggy lives have been lost through falling over the edges. I’m glad Bailey and Harvey stayed at home – they would not have been happy to stay on the lead, and neither would I.

Eventually I could see Steepholm in the distance, with Flatholm to its right in the haze.

steepholm-panorama

I think this was as far as I went on my only visit to Brean Down about 20 years ago, so I had a surprise when I got to the crest of the hill…..

The Fort

I knew it was there, but didn’t realise it was so big! It was first built in the 1850’s and re-purposed a couple of times after that.

Here are some views of the fort

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Front of the fort
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Gun placement
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Look-out post  at the back of the fort
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View through a peephole. Did boats land here?

This is what the National Trust thinks is its history:

brean-down-info

My mum comes from the generation where they used phone boxes,  pressed button B and inserted 1d, so she never phones me on my mobile………. she chose to do so when I was in the fort. I’m amazed there was a signal! On a positive note, though, we managed to sort out what she should get my better half for Christmas.

Random….

The long walk back

There is a small non-surfaced road back to the steps, something else I didn’t know about.I suppose it makes sense – imagine trying to build something of this size and complexity with no way of getting people and materials to and from the site!

Rather than try to climb the really steep and slightly muddy hill, I walked along the road. It was a long and chilly walk back in the shade of the down. I thought it was never going to end! Plenty of time for contemplation, so here’s something I thought about – wave length….?? A throwback to physics at school I think.

wave-length

It was lovely on Brean Down, and so well-kept, including the fort, so I made use of the box at the bottom of the steps for donations to the National Trust.

And finally….

Well, that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed my photos and chat as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

I haven’t yet decided where to go next Friday, so feel free to leave constructive comments and suggestions here.