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The Watchet to Washford trail

watchet to washford pic

Follow the first two miles of the West Somerset Mineral Railway's route from the coast to the Brendon Hills on foot.  Nature has reclaimed the old trackbed between Watchet and Washford, and it is now a haven for wildlife

 

 

Site Information

Toilets
Car parking
Watchet Market House Museum
Watchet Town Council
West Somerset Railway
Information point
Somerset County Council

Discover the Trail 

The Watchet to Washford Trail is a ­at stroll along a dedicated public footpath which follows the route of the Old Mineral Line, and is approximately 2 miles (3.5 km) long. The route is ­flat, level, and stile free. Stout footwear is recommended. 

steps

1.   Start on the Esplanade in Watchet, from where there is an excellent view of the harbour, and the West Pier, from which ore was offloaded into waiting ships bound for Wales.

 

2.  Where the Esplanade meets Market Street you can find Watchet Market House Museum, which has an interesting display of Mineral Line artefacts and photographs in the North window, as well as inside.

 

The former Station House in Watchet
The former Station House in Watchet

4.  Retrace your steps through the car park, and standing on the pavement by the entrance of the car park, look at the Station House.  To the right of the Station House is the timber-clad Goods Shed, now a restaurant.  Next door but one to the restaurant is the site of the former WSMR Engine Shed, now Beever’s Garage.

 

The West Somerset Railway passes over the track bed of the Old Mineral Line
The West Somerset Railway passes over the track bed of the Old Mineral Line
View from West Pier from the Esplanade
View from West Pier from the Esplanade

3. Continue along Market Street past the London Inn, and Yankee Jack’s cottage.  Turn right into the car park, formerly known as the Mineral Yard.  Walk through the car park to the West Pier, and look at the exposed tracks and the interpretation panel which shows where the iron ore used to be discharged into waiting boats.

 

The Goods Shed in Watchet
The Goods Shed in Watchet

5. Cross the road, and pass the Old Station House on your right.  Continue down Mill Lane past the Star Inn, and follow the footpath alongside the river.  You will pass a small footbridge, keep going along the pavement until it joins the road.

 

6. Continue along the road through Whitehall, until the path forks.  Take the right hand fork and before long you will come to a gate.  Pass through the gate and under the railway bridge.  You are now on the old track bed of the Mineral Railway.

7. Soon you will see the Paper Mill on your left.  On the hill above the Paper Mill you can see St Decuman’s Church.

 

8. Continue along the path until you reach a point where the paths cross from both sides. To the left is Kentsford Farm, which will take you back to Watchet via St Decuman’s Well, and the Church. 

The right hand path crosses the railway line and will meet the road for Blue Anchor and Watchet.  Continue going straight to stay on the Trail.

 

9. Keep following the path straight on. After a while you will see a tiny bridge on the right which allows cattle to pass under the West Somerset Railway line.

 

10. Eventually the trail passes into Washford playing field.  Keep going across the field, pass through the gate, and enter a small lane.

The end of the trail in Washford
The end of the trail in Washford

 

11. Pass Glen Cottage on your right, continue along the road and you will come out opposite Old Cleeve School.  Turn right here and you will quickly come to a junction beside a stone bridge which carries the railway line over the road.  Look through the arch of the bridge and you will see steep stone steps.  These steps are part of the “Monks’ path” which the monks of Cleeve Abbey used to traverse.

  

12. Turn left and walk along the road for 50 metres before turning right into Castle Mead Road.  Walk along the pavement until you reach the A39.  Turn right onto the pavement next to the A39 and you will see the Washford Station in front of you, which houses the Somerset and Dorset Railway Museum.

 

Return to Watchet the way you came or catch a train or bus.

 

 

Safety on the Mineral Line

  •  Visitors are requested to use extreme caution when exploring West Somerset Mineral Railway sites.

  • Children should be kept under close supervision and should not be allowed to climb on walls or banks.
  • Take care on uneven ground and on the West Pier.
  • Stout footwear is strongly advised.

 

Wildlife to look out for along the Line

  • Birds - wrens, robins, blue and great tits, wagtails, dippers and kingfishers.

  • Otters - look out for their slides along the banks.

  • Badgers - look out for shallow pits created with strong claws whilst looking for earth worms, and badger spore.

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How to get to Watchet

By bus - From Taunton: no.28 and no.18 (Minehead to Taunton) Timetables

 

By train -  West Somerset Railway to Watchet or Washford Station 

 

By car - From the east: Leave the M5 at Junction 24 (Bridgwater) and follow the signs for Minehead (A39).  After about 16 miles turn right down minor road signposted to Watchet.

From the west: Leave the M5 at Junction 25 (Taunton) and follow the signs to the A358 towards Minehead.  At Williton turn right and then left following the signs to Watchet. (About 18 miles from the motorway.)

Parking: There are four pay and display car parks in Watchet: Anchor Street, Swain Street, Harbour Road and Market Street.  Please note, there is no parking available in Washford.

 

On foot - Many WSMR sites are accessible by foot following public rights of way.  Ordnance Survey map OL9 covers Exmoor National Park, and includes the Brendon Hills and Watchet.

 

The Mineral Line on Google maps

 

Go to Watchet in pictures
Coaling the locomotive at Watchet for the first run on 3rd July 1907