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A trip to the West Country

In September 2011, Wendy and I took a mid-week trip to a place in England called Brean, which is not very far from Burnham-on-Sea and Weston-Super-Mare.

This part of the country is a couple of hours drive from home, and while here, we had planned to visit some National Trust Properties in the area. So what better way to start the trip than visit the stunning Victorian Gothic styled mansion of Tyntesfield.

Tyntesfield House

Owned by the Gibbs family since 1843 when William Gibbs bought ‘Tyntes Place’ with a fortune made from importing Guano from South America.

But more about that in my next post….

After an absolutely fabulous time at Tyntesfield (my first ever visit to a country estate), we drove on to our destination.

The Old Rectory at Brean dates back to 1535 when of course it was simply called The Rectory, and built for a princely sum of £7.04 or about $10. So obviously Wendy and I had to stay here.

Old Rectory Reception

After unpacking we found the local shop, bought some postcards and went for a walk along the beach. It being early evening the big wide beach was almost deserted except for a few dog walkers and fishermen. It was Wendy’s first time here, I had been here as a child about 30 years ago and it felt exactly same as it did as a child, we loved it.

Brean beach with the Down in the far background

Brean beach with the Down in the far background

Great place to walk your dog – Can’t wait to take Shadow here

After a short stroll along the sand we walked back up the road to our motel


and we came across this guy

cool dude

We spent the rest of the evening at a local pub, but only after saying hello to one of the owners two lovely dogs.

The Bed & Breakfast owners dog

Wendy can't stay away from news

Wendy can’t stay away from news

The next day was a day of walking, and it was a glorious day, not a cloud in sight.
We drove down to the car park at the foot of Brean Down, you usually have to pay about £5 but we found out that it is owned by the National Trust and being that we are members we got to park for free, bonus. There are two routes up the hill. You can take the shallower winding but longer road, or the shorter but steeper steps. We chose the steps.

Our car is in the car park near top left of the picture

Half way up!

Half way up!

The climb is not too bad at all, especially in the nice weather. So after a short amount of time we arrived at the top of the steps.

Getting further out to sea

Getting further out to sea

Start of a lovely long walk

I would imagine it is about 1 or 2 miles to the end of the peninsular that is Brean Down, but it is such a lovely place that you don’t even notice the steep inclines and before you know it this comes into view…

Just glimpsing the site of Brean Down Fort

Just glimpsing the site of Brean Down Fort

Brean Down has a Victorian Fort, built to protect the Bristol Channel from invading forces, mainly the French.

A bit of history…

In 1858 Britain was under the threat of invasion after France built its first ironclad, the “Gloire”. Gun batteries were quickly built. Four spanned the Bristol Channel – Brean Down, Steep Holm, Flat Holm, and Lavernock Point in South Wales.
The gun battery on the Down was ready by 1877, but the invasion never happened. So they were never fired in anger.
At 5am on the 6th July, 1900, a huge explosion rocked the fort. A gunner called Haines committed suicide by firing his rifle into the gunpowder magazine, half of the battery was destroyed but amazingly no one else was injured.
After the explosion the military moved out. From 1913-36 the battery was used as a civilian café. An army of walkers and holiday makers invaded the barrack rooms and the parade ground became a children’s playground. This scene remained until 1939…
When the army returned and re-garrisoned it at the outbreak of the second world war.
After the war the local council regained control of it, and is now managed on their behalf by the National Trust.
Old Victorian Barrack Block

Old Victorian Barrack Block

Some of the WWII era Gun Emplacements

Inside the Gun Emplacement

Inside the Gun Emplacement


One of the Second World War Searchlight Bunkers

One of the Second World War Searchlight Bunkers

Saw this little fella on the  cliff edge

Saw this little fella on the cliff edge

Weston-super-Mare across the bay

Weston-super-Mare across the bay

So after a very interesting morning we made our way back to the car and saw these happy chappies on the way back.


Here are some more photographs of our trip.

What a fantastic day we had, beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, and of course beautiful company.