If you want a a sense of traditional village life in beautiful Exmoor, Porlock is the perfect place for you. Set in Porlock Vale, between the rolling hills of Exmoor and the sea lapping at the coastline, this charming village exudes character & authenticity. Wandering through winding the streets you’ll find colourful cottages, shops and galleries, independent pubs and tea rooms… And, the surrounding landscape offers a bit of something for everyone. Here’s our guide to the local area for you 🙂
The Porlock Landscape
The flat expanse of Porlock Vale extends all the way to the marsh and shingle ridge of Porlock Bay, a Site of Special Scientific Interest brimming with unusual species of flora and fauna. It’s no wonder, therefore, that it’s a walker’s paradise.
Head up to the east to Selworthy Beacon for impressive views across the Bristol channel. This is a stunning place to get away from it all and enjoy the coastal space.
Heading south will take you in-land, up winding lanes, through to magical woodlands and the stunning Webbers Post, situated in the heart of the Holnicote Estate. Then, to the west of the vale sits the infamous Porlock Hill. We recommend you follow the road up its steep and craggy bends and, the further you go, the more you’ll find dramatic moorland views looking out over Exmoor and the coast.
These days, with the ‘decline of the high street’, you may be heartened to find no empty shopfront here. Because there isn’t much you can’t find in the village of Porlock – visitor or resident. There’s a traditional butcher, an independent pharmacy, a proper post office and an old school hardware store as well as a plethora of locally owned and run shops, pubs and cafés.
For just about any information you would wish to know about Porlock or the surrounding area, pop into the Tourist Information Centre. We can promise you that this is a community hub, not some holidaymaker trap, so you’ll find a friendly team of volunteers prepared to help you with whatever you need.
Cafes & Tea Rooms
A very ‘West Country’ pastime, why not find somewhere in the village to enjoy a cream tea? Homemade traditional scones are served with thick clotted cream, strawberry jam, and a pot of tea. And, trust us, this is an obligatory mid-afternoon affair when visiting Somerset.
- – Whortleberry Tea Room: You’ll be more than tempted to try the tea here after a browse of their incredible reviews!
- – Bramdowns: (aka Mrs Jackson’s Victorian Tea Rooms) – As featured in Countryfile’s piece on ‘Britain’s best tearooms and country cafés‘, this is a DIVINE little place for lunch, tea or to pick up delicious takeaway treats.
- – The Giggling Bean: We recommend this place for its barista coffees and food made to order.
- – The Big Cheese: A gorgeous cheesemonger and delicatessen with all sorts of yummy produce.
- – Kitnors Kitchen: (Just a mile east of Porlock) – This country cottage tearoom in the delightful neighbouring village of Bossington, boasts all sorts of scrumptious items on its menu. Its adored because of its beautiful rural setting too.
Pubs & Restaurants
We also love these cute little places for food…
- – Piggy in the Middle – For award winning pies and (your classic small town) fish & chips.
- – The Ship Inn – Our favourite local, for many reasons, but mostly because of its quirky decor and sprawling pub garden. This place is filled with bric-a-brac & film posters, as well as cosy alcoves & lovely fireplaces to warm up by in the winter. They do food, drink & often pub quizzes and events too!
- – The Royal Oak – It’s basic, but it’s cheap – so, pop in for a pint. Pub grub available, and it may be simple – but sometimes a jacket potato with your favourite topping is all you need! Occasionally has live music too.
- – The Castle Inn – All your booze requirements will be met here, and any you might have for super affordable pub food – including burgers, steak, ham & eggs, curries etc… Quiz nights most Wednesdays and often shows sports & puts on music too.
- – Locanda on the Weir – just down the hill in Porlock Weir, you’ll find this incredible spot for some truly high quality fine dining. Check the video towards the end of this article to get a taste for it…
Shopping & Art
The abundance of independent shops run by locals here is awesome, but don’t take our word for it. Peruse these absolute gems for homewares, clothes and gifts, and enjoy browsing through galleries filled with the works of talented Exmoor artists…
- Clive Down Butchers – Find the perfect cut for your Sunday Roast at this excellent traditional butcher on the high street
- Jana Henrie – This gorgeous little fashion boutique does some absolutely lovely ladies clothing, whilst still retaining it’s original Yarn Shop status with a dedicated “Wool Room”! I hope you’ll forgive me if I say it’s hanging on to its heritage by more than a thread…
- Melody Art Gallery – Here you will find stunning impressionist-eqsue paintings and breathtaking landscape photography and all sorts of other visual delights by local artists & photographers.
- Handmade Exmoor – Expertly made local crafts come in no short supply here…
- Exmoor Rambler – Always handy whilst out in the wiles of Exmoor, an outdoor clothing and equipment store!
The village has three car parks – Main/Central Car Park (off the high street), Village Hall Car Park, and Doverhay Car Park. You should be able to find these by putting them into your Google maps. The Village Hall allows up to 2 hours of free parking.
Map of Porlock
Things to see and do in the area
Admire the view from Selworthy Beacon
This viewpoint on the hill above Bossington Bay has superb panoramic views at 308 meters above sea level. You can walk there easily from Bossington National Trust Car Park, or go from Minehead, passing through Minehead higher town. There are lots of lovely walks from the top, not forgetting the South West Coast Path.
Visit Porlock Weir
Only a 5min drive west of Porlock (or a 2mile 30-40min walk), you’ll find the small harbour hamlet of Porlock Weir. Breathe in the sea air as you wander along the pebble beach, listen to the sounds of the gulls as you admire pretty little sailing boats, and stop for a bite to eat at one of the tiny village’s lovely little establishments.
Walk to Culbone Church
The smallest Church in England, nestled in the hills just west of Porlock and Porlock Weir, Culbone Church makes a lovely endpoint for a woodland walk along the coast. It’s hidden gems like these that make exploring Exmoor a real treasure hunt.
Visit Doverhay Manor Museum
Run by a group of enthusiastic volunteers, the Doverhay Manor Museum is a great place to go to learn more about the history of Porlock and the surrounding communities. (Also known as Porlock Museum.) Open throughout the summer months (1st May – 28th September), Monday to Saturday. And it’s free admission.
Amble through Greencombe Gardens
A woodland garden full of rare and wonderful plants, Greencombe Gardens offers an organic showpiece of international renown. Sheltered under canopies of oaks, conifers and hollies, you will find carefully nurtured camellias, lilies, roses and more all grown using organic, traditional methods.
Step back in time at Allerford Museum
Relaxed and informal, Allerford Museum is situated a mile east of Porlock in the small hamlet of Allerford. Here you will find a collection of memorabilia and ancient artefacts that give you a sense of rural life in years gone by.
Embrace the space on Bossington Beach
Porlock Bay stretches between Hurlstone Point and Porlock Weir and includes the beach, ridge and salt marsh (see below). This long shingle curve bay sits between the Bristol Channel and farmland of the vale. The River Horner runs down from the village of Bossington, seemingly disappearing as it seeps through the shingle to reach the sea… The best place to access the beach from is the Bossington National Trust car park, only half a mile from the beach itself.
Walk along Porlock Ridge and Salt Marsh
Porlock Salt Marsh is a biological site of Site of Special Scientific Interest for its active geomorphological features. The shingle ridge was formed naturally over thousands of years, which created a barrier between the sea and the flat lowlands behind it. However, the geographical balance of factors maintaining the ridge eventually evolved, leaving the ridge vulnerable. Because of this, there was a catastrophic breach during a storm in October 1996. This led to the expanse of tidal saltwater marsh which exists there now, supporting various unusual bird and plant species! Quite a fascinating ecological journey really… Guided nature walks & talks on it all held frequently. Ask at the tourism office in Porlock or enquire with the Exmoor Society online.
Travelling west through the village, you will find your way to Porlock Hill. Infamously steep, this twisting road climbs at a gradient approaching 1:4 at times. As the steepest A-road in the UK, it attracts all sorts of athletes, from cyclists to runners. So if you’re looking for a challenge that really gets the muscles burning, this may be for you! The road climbs over 220 meters in just under a mile, winding up from the village to the idyllic open moors above.
For anyone a little daunted by the climb, there is an alternative toll route that follows a more relaxed 1:14 incline.
Walking from Porlock
As described above, the landscape offers varied walking terrain, all within easy reach of the village. Here’s a few helpful other walks we think you might like in the area.
Circular walk between Porlock and Porlock Weir, (along the beach and through the woods!)
And don’t forget you can always check our Walks & Beaches section of the blog for our full collection.
Explore More Porlock with Loz’s Leisure
For further inspiration on what to do & where to eat around Porlock, check out the amazing Loz’s Leisure travel vlog on it. These guys are truly lovely tour guides and show some of Porlock & Porlock Weir’s cutest spots in all their glory. We think you’ll really enjoy watching 🙂
Accommodation in Porlock
If you are looking for self-catering holiday accommodation in Porlock, please browse our collection of gorgeous houses & cottages. And of course, if you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. We are based just down the road, so Porlock and Porlock Weir are our specialist areas of expertise!
Self-catering cottages in Porlock sleeping up to 4 guests:
Porlock self-catering cottages sleeping 6 or more guests:
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