Saturday, 28 October 2017

Weston-super-Marvellous

Weston-super-Mare has never been on my bucket list: it has a reputation for being the place you miss out between Taunton and Bristol, a bit of faded glamour with a decaying pier and chip shops.  However a friend was staying there recently, and other one was free for supper, so it was an ideal moment to get to know WSM.

I suppose I should have engaged brain earlier.  A place nicknamed 'Weston-super-Mud' is called that for a reason: it has a huge tidal range.  I knew it had a flat bay and that a vast amount of beach was exposed at low tide (up to 1.2 km in fact) but I hadn't realised it had a large vertical tidal range too - up to 11.8 m, the second largest in the world.  Now that alone should have had me dashing up the M5: honestly, how do these things pass me by?
20171023 WSM 12.47.51
Richard and I strolled north around the harbour towards the Birnbeck Pier, destroyed by fire some years ago.  You can make out its old life boat slipway.
20171023 WSM 12.25.31
This walkway fascinated me. You can hardly make them out, but there are people walking along this path. It looks as if they're walking on water but it's actually an infinity walk on the edge of the enclosed lagoon.
20171023 WSM 12.10.36
Very clever.
20171023 WSM 12.14.54
20171023 WSM 12.38.27
And guess what? It had surveyors on it!
2017-10-23 12.38.23 HDR
Richard pointed to the church on the hill south and said he sometimes walked up there - and so stoked with coffee/diet coke we marched up to the church at Uphill.  I pointed out the church's benchmark for Richard.  Despite being a Chartered Surveyor these are not something he feels the need to hunt at every turn, tsk.

The view back across the bay was wonderful.
20171023 WSM 14.11.24
On Monday, before I headed back, we walked up onto Brean Down. It was a good stiff climb up from the car park, and more awesome views, this time south towards Burnham across the Berrow Flats towards Bridgwater Bay.
20171024 Brean Down 13.02.51
Once on the Down we headed towards the fort on the west end. But, guess what we found first? Richard knew about this but forgot I'd get excited. I really think he should hang out with geomatic surveyors a bit more. It's TP1608.
20171024 Brean Down TP1608 trig
You can see the islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm to the left/right of the trig respectively. Interestingly, to me at least, Steep Holm is in Somerset and Flat Holm, 4 km north, is in Wales. Steep Holm has a trig and Flat Holm a lighthouse so both are worth a visit.
20171024 Brean Down TP1608 view
Once over the hill Brean Down Fort appears. It's an interesting place to look around. It was built in the 1860s as a Palmerston Fort and was occupied by the military during both the First and Second World Wars. It is a windy promontory and being sat manning the search light during the war must have been a grim job.
20171024 Brean Down 13.26.10
There was a nice benchmark on one of the barrack buildings. Cue rolling of eyes from Richard.

During the 1930s they used Bridgwater Bay to practice military manoeuvres (and perhaps explosives). The aircraft would be directed to their ranges using a large concrete arrow built onto the top of the down. Richard had been up on the Down many times but never seen this.
20171024 Brean Down 14.16.21
Weston may be going through a regeneration in the next few years.  Depending on the progress of the Avon Barrage, the tidal regime may be significantly modified and, perhaps the bay will stay fuller for longer.  This could attract developers of marinas etc.  I'm not sure if this would be a good or bad thing? I quite like Weston as it stands: cute and quirky.

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