A Day in……..Uphill, Somerset

Uphill church of St Nicholas and the old tower windmill looking out over the Bristol Channel by French travel guide book writer
Heading out from the Estuary at Uphill on a glorious January day

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

Alt="French travel book series and Collioure harbour photo"
My French Travel Book series and New book Off the Autoroute


The small village of Uphill consists of the village itself around the marina and down to the beach. Also, it spreads along the Axe Estuary from the marina where the Nature Reserves are filled with birds, wildlife, and plenty of botanical interest. This area at the southern end of Weston Super Mare is a most delightful place and you can easily, with a picnic, spend a whole day here exploring with your camera or binoculars. It reminds me of parts of Suffolk, particularly around Snape, where the skies are big, the land filled with birdsong. It is generally much quieter than Weston Super Mare, day visitors there would never be aware that such a beautiful place was just a few hundred yards from hustle and bustle of a Bank Holiday weekend.

Alt="Brean Down in the distance beyond Uphill Estuary"
Peaceful early winter morning at Uphill Estuary Somerset with Brean Down in the distance

You can usually park easily in the village before taking a stroll to the beach along the Links Road past the golf club. The fifth hole is right by the wall along the road so you can stand right behind the players as they tee off – just stay still and quiet but I imagine it does put them off. There is a green to the left so you can follow the ball inward on that hole. Just keep your head down just in case.

Alt="Uphill Estuary with a view out to Brean Down beyond the boats"
View across the estuary at Uphill Somerset looking out to Brean Down

A few yards farther on is the beach, reached as you past by an old WW2 pill box. In front of you is the attractive vista over to South Wales, with the outcrop of Brean Down just to the left. Ever changing light and the large sky make this an irresistible shot for a photographer. Even better is to be here at sunset. The sunsets I promise are as spectacular as anywhere, especially in late Summer through to winter. On most days there are windsurfers active to the right off this beach. Weston, it must be said can be rather bracing.

Although you are at sea level here the views are still extensive. Brean Down, famous recently for the filming location of Sanditon on TV, is just in front of you, a place of contrasting light. Beyond is Steep Holm Island. Beyond that to the right is Flat Holm Island. The clues are in the names and these islands have regular boat trips to them in summer to see the nature in these secluded spots. Beyond all these is Cardiff stretched out on the opposite shoreline. Cardiff can appear extremely clearly to enable you to pick out landmarks such as the Millennium Stadium with the naked eye.  

Early morning mist over the river Axe in Somerset by French travel guide book author Neal Atherton
Misty haze over the Axe Estuary at Uphill Somerset

Carrying on to the left, by the golf course you reach the Yacht Club and beyond the rather neglected jetty. It is atmospheric, however. Being here on a misty morning looking up the estuary can produce some wonderful photos. A view back towards the Bristol Channel on a sunny day will give what locals believe is just an illusion – a gorgeous blue sea. Colour is all about the light and reflections and despite the reputation for the water to be muddy, it can on the best of days be as beautiful as the Mediterranean.

Tranquillity on the estuary at Uphill Somerset January 2022

At high tides of Spring and Autumn the water will flood the plain as far as Uphill boatyard and down to the far Nature Reserve at Bleadon Levels. The land that gets the tidal flow over it is rich in wildflowers in spring and summer, especially the sea lavender and teems with birds and wildlife. We have spotted over 50 different birds on the estuary and reserve. A very beautiful place.

Path through the nature reserve at Uphill in Somerset with summer wild flowers by French travel guide book author Neal Atherton
The beautiful nature reserve at Uphill Somerset

Keeping by the estuary bank, as long as the tide or heavy rain is well past, you can follow the estuary around and back to Uphill village. It is not possible to cross the river so heading back to the village is the only route to the other side which can then allow a walk to the nature reserve a couple of miles downriver. Here there are some bird watching hides to allow views over the reed beds. Although you can hear many birds and see some of the more adventurous ones, I have to say that even with binoculars these reed birds do stay remarkably well hidden. The walk is a beautiful one however and well worth the effort.

boatyard at Uphill Somerset with the view of the church of St Nicholas on the hillside
Uphill Boatyard and Church on a beautiful Spring morning

Back in the village the path winds through the rather neglected part of the boatyard to the river that twice a day will be completely dry and silted with the outgoing tide. Following the path by the side of the lake and caravan site, which is beautifully situated, gives the option of following the riverside to the nature reserve or going left past the resident egret. Again, the trees and shrubbery around this path are an ideal spot for birdwatching.

Above on Uphill hill the Church of St Nicholas which is more medieval than Norman. The church dominates the scene around the caravan site and boatyard. It stands on top of the rockface of the old quarry of Uphill. Many days you will see climbers on the near vertical slope of the quarry. Occasionally some stray black sheep will be in almost as dangerous a position around the slopes of the quarry looking for a tasty piece of grass in an impossibly dangerous spot.

Paraglider at Uphill Somerset

The path to the church is obvious, quite steep but it is a fascinating place to visit.

Once on the summit you can climb Uphill Tower, the remnants of an old windmill. The views from here are outstanding. From overlooking Weston Super Mare beach, you can look over to South Wales and round to the tip of the North Devon Coast. Back round you can follow the hills of Exmoor, the Blackdown Hills and all the way over to Glastonbury Tor and the Mendips. From what is a relatively small hill it affords the most remarkable panorama. The markers on the top of the tower give you the landmark locations.

The church opens rarely but it can be visited during the year. Look for the stone mounting steps for the horse rider attending the services in the times of Jane Austen. The graveyard is quite a place to stroll around. If you like looking at and imagining the lives of people in times past this churchyard is an interesting one. There are a few war graves in the churchyard maintained by the CWGC. There is a family one that has on it the name of a soldier killed at the Somme on July 22nd, 1916. The relevance for me is a personal one. On that same day on the Somme an ancestor of mine was also killed. Maybe they new each other, possibly engaged in the same action.

The churchyard of St Nicholas at Uphill with the old Norman church by French Travel guide book author Neal Atherton
Ancient Church of Saint Nicholas Uphill with its fascinating graveyard

Two graves stand out. One is for two women of the same surname. The poignancy of this is that they perished in the Basle air disaster in 1973, an event I can recall. Over fifty local children of this area of Somerset were left motherless when the plane taking them on an exciting group trip crashed into the mountainside as it neared its destination. Quite a tragedy for a tight knit community, especially when most of the victims were part of similar interest groups.

Uphill church of St Nicholas and the old tower windmill looking out over the Bristol Channel by French travel guide book writer
Uphill Tower and beacon looking towards the old Norman church

The other grave is most unusual. Detective Inspector Frank Froest of Scotland Yard would seem an unusual candidate to be buried in Uphill. However, he did take up an occupation here after his service in London. What is noteworthy about him is that he was the supervising officer for the arrest aboard ship of the infamous Dr. Crippen and his mistress Ethel Le Neve when they were escaping to America. You come across some curious things pottering around these churchyards.

here at Uphill hill near the old church of St Nicholas was the location of the filming for Sanditon
View to Uphill Church Somerset – Sanditon Filming Location

Uphill is a beautiful spot. Come by all means but please not all at once as I love it too.

Please Enjoy More Days in……………………………..UK

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

alt="New French Travel Guide Book Off the Autoroute"
OUT NOW on Amazon for Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, paperback & hardback

Published by Neal Atherton

My passion is writing about travel and particularly French travel. I have traveled extensively in France and wine and food has always featured on my travels and now in my books. My friends always await our return from France with the latest new finds from the vineyards and I was more than happy to keep sampling. I am from Lancashire in the north of England but have now relocated to Somerset (nearer to France) and able to enjoy devoting my time to writing and new discoveries. France came late to me as a destination, in fact so conservative was my travel upbringing that it was a long time before I even ventured to Cornwall. I have more than made up for the slow start and have enjoyed helping many others with their travel plans to France and especially to Paris and Provence. I have written a series of four books on France - Three are now on Amazon:THE FIRST TIME WE SAW PARIS about our first steps in French Travel, THYME FOR PROVENCE our discovery of that glorious region and the people and places we met and discovered, A DREAM OF PARIS a personal memoir of our times in Paris with friends. France has been fun, we have been burgled on our very first arrival, we discovered the best cafe that changed our travel lives on the very next day, we learnt about French wine, we escaped from the most horrendous gite, we found the best of gites, B & B's and people, we laughed and cried with dear friends in Paris, I was hosed down by a crazy owner to cool me down in Provence, our breakfast in a remote village was served by the French army, we stepped totally out of our comfort zone and discovered the best of French culture. The experiences are varied and many and please come with me as I retell the stories and my footsteps are there to follow. I am also writing about ancestry and genealogy and my first book about our incredible family story themed around war and the military is now on Amazon - A BULLET FOR LIFE. I love the English game of cricket, golf, soccer, photography, walking and cooking. Oh, and travel of course.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: