|Distance : 1 miles
|Grading : +
|OS Sheet : 153
There isn't much walking involved in this walk, since it is a walk around the tiny but fascinating island of Steep Holm located in the Bristol Channel. The island can be reached by boat from Weston-super-Mare (booking essential). A trip typically gives you around 11 hours on the island so you have plenty of time to explore. The island as high almost vertical cliffs almost all the way around topped with wild flowers and old military forts and enjoys fantastic views of the Severn Estuary and the coast of Somerset and South Wales. Due to the time you are on the island be sure to bring food and drink (although there is normally a limited range available on the island) and you might also want to bring something to read as there are plenty of places to sit with fine views.
Steep Holm Island is a private island owned by the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Trust. They operate trips to the island on several weekends over the year, mostly in late spring, summer and early autumn. The boats run from Knightstone Causeway in Weston-super-Mare, at the northern end of the bay. There is limited on street parking around the harbour and a car park in Maderia Road around 5 minutes walk away. It is also around ¾ of a mile from Weston-super-Mare railway station, but before booking a trip check you can get a train there early enough and back late enough.
To book a trip see Steep Holm Sailings to select a trip and then you can book via Steep Holm Bookings. At the time of writing the trip costs £27 for adults and £20 for children. You must book in advance. Trips to the island are normally operated by Cardiff Sea Safaris using small Rib boats, which have limited space for luggage (and be prepared for some spray), therefore only small bags can be taken.
As you might expect there is no accommodation so it is not possible to stay on the island. However the trip to the island departs from Weston-super-Mare, which has an extensive range of accommodation. Booking.com - Weston-super-Mare provides details and bookings for many hotels in Weston-super-Mare. In addition Visit Weston-super-Mare.com Accommodation is a comprehensive directory of accommodation in Weston.
The trip from Weston-super-Mare takes around 10 minutes and you will be dropped on the only beach on the island, a small pebbly beach backed by high cliffs and with the old Steep Holm Inn to the right, now in a state of dereliction. Maps of the island are available in the visitor centre which you will be taken to.
From the beach you take the zig-zag path up to the top of the island, a pleasant tree-lined path but quite steep and with old rail tracks along it. You pass another couple of ruined houses on the right, one with a grave stone (not sure if it is the real one) of Kenneth Allsop. The island is now owned and managed by the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Trust. There is a short cut up the zig-zag path via some steps if you prefer (both paths come out at the same place). On reaching the top, turn left on the obvious grassy path. Soon you have the old Abbey, which is being excavated to the right and a large conrete World War II fort on the left, Steep Holm South Battery.
Follow this path keeping the sea to your left and soon passing another concrete building on the right. Continue passing a path (marked as steep path) on the left. Soon you come to the barrack block where you will find the main facilities of the island. The barracks here have mostly been converted to visitor facilities where you will find a shop, limited cafe and museum and some tables out the front from where you can enjoy the views of the Severn and back to Weston.
Continue on the coastal path and soon you come to a huge fort which I believe is mostly Second World War. Here you will find underground chambers to explore and even a couple of the original guns, one of which is still in place. Continue on the main coast path soon reaching another concrete fort. Steps here go down to a search light building and offer wonderful views over the Severn.
Continue on the main coast path now along the north coast of the island passing another couple of concrete World War II buildings on the right. Another path off to the left (which is very overgrown) leads off to another coastal search light on the left. Ahead as you approach another fort the path splits with the main path straight ahead and another slightly more coastal path to the left. Either can be used since they both soon join up but the coastal route offers better views of neighbouring island, Flat Holm.
Continue round on the coastal path where you soon join the path up from the beach having completed your circuit of the island. There is plenty more to explore however, with the old Abbey ruins inland and some ruined cottages.
You are also free to walk around the other paths on the island and a map is available at the visitor centre showing the points of interest.
You will be advised of times of the return boats on arrival at the island. On busy times there may be two trips back because the boats have to make two trips to pick up everyone.
Here are some photos taken on the island and on the way to or from the island. Click each picture for a larger version and description.
Ordnance Survey Explorer map 153 (Weston-super-Mare & Bleadon Hill) covers Steep Holm Island, however it is not very detailed but there is a better map available on the island. The Ordnance Survey map is available from local book shops, tourist information centres and online retailers. In addition see the links below.