Porlock Weir

Orientation & Geography

Europe, United Kingdom, Somerset

Porlock Weir lies about 1.5 miles west of Porlock, Somerset, England and is a small settlement which has grown up around the harbour. It is a popular visitor attraction. Many cottages around the area are very old including the Gibraltar Cottages which date from the 17th century and have been designated by English Heritage as a grade II listed building. Like most ports in West Somerset, the small harbour is tidal but has a small home-based flotilla of yachts and is visited by many more in spring and summer. The port has existed for over 1,000 years. The Anglo-Saxon chronicle reports that in 1052 Harold Godwinson came from Ireland with nine ships and plundered the area and even before that in 86 AD it was visited by Danes. In the 18th and 19th centuries coal from south Wales was the main cargo and in World War II pit props cut in local forests were exported the other way. The ketch, Lizzy, was wrecked at Gore point, near Porlock Weir. The ship, built in Appledore, was spotted in trouble off Lynmouth in a storm during 1854. The ship had lost her masts, and was in very bad condition. A fishing boat was sent out to rescue the crew, as Lynmouth possessed no lifeboat at this time. The boat managed to reach the stricken ketch, rescue the crew and get back to Lynmouth safely. The weather then began to improve, and a fresh crew, together with the original skipper of the vessel, went out to attempt to salvage her. They improvised with a scrap of sail, and managed to get safely around Foreland Point. They sailed on all night, only just managing to keep the ship afloat. Finally, when they got to Gore Point,just a mile from Porlock weir, they sank in shallow water. The remains of the ship lie submerged just off the point today. On 12 January 1899, during a storm, the 10 ton Lynmouth Lifeboat was launched but because of the ferocity of the storm could not put out to sea, and was hauled by men and 20 horses over Countisbury and Porlock hills to Porlock Weir where the water in the bay was less rough. The endeavour enabled 13 seamen to be rescued. It is a good spot for walking with the South West Coast Path and other trails linking through to Porlock Ridge and Saltmarsh (good for birding) and Culbone - the smallest complete parish church in England.