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EXPLORING THE STEART MARSHES

March 6, 2017

I have spent the last few weeks exploring the  West Somerset coastal path which is now designated as the England Coast Path and runs along the Bristol Channel coast from Brean to Minehead.steart-river-mouth-winter-for-web

At this time of year (February) it is essential to make sure the weather is favourable to venture on this trail as you can go for miles without seeing a single person. Getting into a difficult situation could become a real problem.

The area known as Steart Marshes is to be found at the mouth of the river Parrot where it empties into the Bristol Channel and has undergone a considerable change from when it was little more than a flat wild  marsh land following huge investment by various organisations. This has resulted in new  dykes and pathways as well as several ‘hides’ from which to observe the birds and other wildlife. New car parks and a toilet block has made the area far more attractive to visitors and it is now well signposted. All this have made it very popular but of course the single track lanes that are the only way to reach the marshes are a problem for visitors who might expect good road access.

I have been to Steart previously but as I was new to the area I had no idea where to go except to follow the signs.

This time I was more prepared having obtained an excellent  leaflet with map supplied by Natural England. I noticed that there was a Tower hide at the river mouth and planned to go there and not knowing what I would find I left my trusty dog at home. I drove through the Steart parking areas where most people go and on to the little car park nearest to the river mouth. There were no other cars in the park and completely deserted.

I got out the car and stepped into the full force of the wind, a westerly gale coming in off the sea, not quite what I wanted to find but the sky was blue and cloudless so I decided to press on.view-from-hide-for-web

The single track lane passed in front of several farms before it ended with a gate to prevent car access and the track became a wide muddy footpath. I could just see the ‘tower’ in the distance and followed the path until I came to a field of sheep with lambs, thought to myself “glad I did not bring the dog”  as I had to walk through the field to the tower.I was surprised at the distance I had to walk and was better than 20 minutes and with the wind howling across the open land made it feel a lot longer. Still no sign of another person. tower-hide-at-steart-point-for-webThe wooden tower was well made and substantial with a staircase up to the hide at the top. Here there is a 360 deg view of the countryside and the sea across to Wales in the distance and Hinkley point power station down the coast as well as a good view of town across the river. Visibility was great with the sun on the ponds but the birds were all a long way off and although I took some great pictures of the coastline I was wishing I could afford that 600mm zoom lens that I coveted but could not justify spending £750 on!!steart-in-winter-for-web

 

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