Sand Point circular coastal walk
Sand Point is an extension of the Mendip Hills made of limestone with unusual volcanic intrusions that juts into the Bristol Channel.
There is plenty of space, great views across the Bristol Channel to Wales, and up the Bristol Channel to the Severn bridges and lots of wildlife and archaeological features to explore.
Sand Point car park, grid ref: ST330659
Head out the front of the car park and bear sharply right, following a surfaced road gently uphill. Turn left before a metal barrier gate to head uphill through trees. At the top of the slope, go through the gate and turn right, keeping the fence on your right. Pass through a ruined stone wall. These were built by French Prisoners captured in the French Revolutionary Wars (1792 – 1802). Head diagonally left across the grassland crossing several low banks toward a gate in the wall ahead. Go through this and the sheep fold, bearing slightly left to climb up on to a narrow ridge. Follow this until it rejoins the main track, with a surfaced access road ahead of you.
Carry along the track (wall on your right). Cross the surfaced access road leading down to the farm, Woodspring Priory Barn and the Priory (no access to them from this point) and bear right, slightly downhill, now with a fence to your right. Continue following this fenceline to a gate and opening in the hedge on your right. Turn right through this and continue, now with trees to your left, to pass through another hedgerow and continue on to a gate in the corner of the next field, leading onto a path overhung by trees and shrubs. Follow this to emerge in Hucker’s Bow car park, next to a large concrete sluice gate.
Salt marsh bird watching
Look out for little egrets in the salt marshes or further out on the mudflats you may spot redshanks and sandpipers.
Take the steps to the top of the sluice structure, turning back in the direction you have just come from to pass through a metal pedestrian gate onto a raised bank. Continue along the top of the bank toward a pool on the saltmarsh. The creek on your right is an important feeding area and high tide roost for wading birds. In winter listen for the calls of redshank and curlew, keeping your eyes peeled for the steely grey sickle shaped wings of a peregrine falcon. The marsh between you and the creek is a valuable habitat in winter, being more resistant to the cold than inland wetlands, so providing a place for birds to feed on the coldest of days. Bear left of the pool, passing through another metal pedestrian gate on your left. From here, bear right uphill, keeping the shrubs and scrub to your right, to again meet the surfaced track the served the Ministry of Defence establishment at St Thomas’s Head. Cross over this road at the end of an overgrown wall to follow another tumbledown boundary. Keep this wall on you right as you cross over the down, gradually descending toward the water. The worn track now turns left, with views over the Channel on your right.
Follow the track, continuing straight ahead when it bears left uphill, taking you through scrub and across a grassy plateau above a secluded cove. Continue on, keeping the cliffs on your right until the path rises again, rejoining your earlier route and returning you to the sheep fold you passed near the start. Cross the wooden steps over the wall to the right of the fold, bearing right ahead of you, walking around the top of another bay following a gently sloping path (though steep in places).
Continue past the beach, following the cliffs on your right and passing a curious conical hill to your left. If you are lucky you may spot a seal. Down to the right is a ruined shrimping hut, used up until the 1930s to boil up the catch of shrimps ready to be taken to Weston-Super-Mare. The way soon opens out onto a large flat raised beach platform. The beach has unusual volcanic rock formations called pillow lavas, formed as molten lava cooled quickly as it flowed under the sea. Tuffs can also be seen on the beach – solidified volcanic ash. Continue following the coast until it swings left, eventually bringing you to a stile at the end of a stone wall.
Curlews and oyster catchers
Listen out for the cry of curlews over the mud flats at low tide or watch oyster catchers skimming the waves.
Go over the stile and follow the path bearing right, very soon turning left uphill along a track. Arrive at another conical hill, a lookout during the Second World War and possibly a beacon site. Down to the right is an unusual earth bank, thought to date back to the Iron Age. Follow the path across the grass, with Sand Bay down to the right, passing two Bronze Age burial sites. Keeping the slope of the hill on your right, follow a well worn track bearing slightly right downhill, descending into scrubby trees to a wooden gate. Continue on down the hard track, descending steps back to the car park.
In spring and autumn, wheatears may be spotted here. This small mainly ground dwelling bird, hops or runs along the shore and has a distinctive white underbelly.
Sand Point car park, grid ref: ST330659
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