Burnham Lighthouse

Burnham on Sea Town Guide, Berrow, Brean and Brean Downs.

...fantastic holiday destinations on the glorious Somerset coastline

With miles of fantastic beaches, the Lighthouse on Legs and what is claimed to be the shortest pier in the UK, Burnham, Berrow and Brean is a stretch of seaside that is full of delights and attractions to keep all ages entertained. An excellent place to base yourself for either a beach or touring holiday as there are plenty of attractions close by.

Brief History
The area, especially around Brean Down has history of settlements dating back 4000 years to the stone age with evidence of extinct mammoths, deer and bison perhaps even older, Bronze age burial mounds and more recently a Roman Temple.
 
Brean and Berrow remain small villages which vastly increase in population during the summer season. Berrow has a church of St Mary dating from the 13th century giving evidence of its popularity as a seaside destination.
 
Sitting on the edge of the reclaimed land of the Somerset Levels, the first real information about Burnham is following the Bristol Channel floods of 1607. Burnham was a small village until the late 18th century when the popularity of seaside resorts started to grow but as it sits on the Bristol Channel which has the second highest tidal range in the world, at around 15 metres, sea defences have become ever more important.
 
A light in the tower of the 14th century St Andrews church was used at first to warn boats and ships which was followed by the first lighthouse, The Round Tower, which was operational until 1832. This was in turn replaced by the 34 metre High Lighthouse and the ‘Lighthouse on Legs’ which is quite a main attraction on the beach.
 
In 1911 a concrete sea wall was built and the sea defences were further enhanced after World War II however high tides and storm conditions proved too much and the town suffered from further devastating floods in 1981. As a result of this the present wall was agreed on and built in 1988.
 
About Burnham on Sea, Berrow and Brean
Burnham sits at the mouth of the River Parrett in Bridgwater Bay and is on the edge of the reclaimed land called the Somerset Levels. It is only 3 miles from the M5 and around 11 miles south of the popular destination of Weston Super Mare and is a lively seaside town offering all the attractions you would associate with the seaside but given its position it is also a great base for sightseeing, walking, cycling, fishing, boating and a wealth of other activities.
 
The concrete pier built between 1911 and 1914 claims to be the shortest pier in the UK although it fell into disrepair until the 1960’s when it was bought and renovation work began. Nowadays it is a lovely structure that still retains much of its Edwardian elegance and is one the UK’s oldest illuminated piers. It hosts a selection of small shops selling refreshments and food and inside the main pavilion there is an amusement hall. There is a long promenade along which to wander and enjoy the sea air and the town has a shopping area served well by the large stores and excellent local amenities.
 
Burnham’s church is the 14th century church of St Andrew which has a leaning tower which always causes a few comments and is much photographed along with the lighthouse on legs. Berrow has its 13th century church of St Mary and Brean has St Bridgets Anglican church and a Methodist church.
 
The stretch between Berrow and Brean is served by a coastal road which stops at Brean Down and the Brean Down Bird Garden. It is a delightful area populated with many holiday centres and caravan and camping sites giving you plenty to choose from to make use of this stunning part of the county.
 
What draws thousands of holidaymakers each and every year to this beautiful stretch of Somerset coastline are the 8 beaches: Burnham Main Beach, Burnham South Beach, Burnham North Beach, Beach Lighthouse Area, Berrow Beach, Brean Beach, Brean Down and the River Axe Estuary. Please check the link for further details on each of these superb beach areas however due to the large tidal range of over a mile and the exposed mud flats at low tide please also note the low tide warnings.
 
It is the perfect spot for a relaxing break giving you access to all those long stretches of beaches – ideal for those everlasting memorable holidays playing in the sea and building sandcastles or watching the children enjoying themselves and splashing around or playing games in the sand and around the many dunes.
 
Things to see and do
Burnham Pier – reportedly the UK’s shortest pier now hosting an array of small shops and an amusement hall
 
Brean Down Bird Garden – a family owned tropical bird garden to the north of Brean. Come and discover the delights of tropical birds from around the world in an area of outstanding natural beauty and only a few yards from the beach. There is a licensed cafe and a gift shop. It is open from April til October from 10am til dusk.  Brean Down, Brean, Somerset, TA8 2RS 01278 751209

Donkey Rides – during the summer season donkey rides are available from the jetty along stretches of the lovely beach. Pony rides are also available on Brean beach and horse riding is allowed on Berrow and Brean beaches if you have your own horse.
 
Apex Leisure and Wildlife Park – 42 acres of water filled clay pits now the home to an abundance of wildlife and a place to get away from the bustle of the town and the beaches. There is a 40 minute gentle walk around the lake or a longer one which takes you to the River Brue and on to the southern end of Burnhams seafront. For the younger ones there is a childrens play area with swings, roundabout, a slide, a seesaw and tyre swings. For those slightly older there is a skate park with a variation of ramps and rails.

Fishing is allowed on the lake with rights held by the Highbridge Angling Association. Details and permits available from Thyers Tackle Shop, Highbridge Tel 01278 786934

With plenty of picnic spots, other activities during the year and free parking it is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy away from the busy towns and beaches.
 
Swimming – Burnham pool is open between 7am and 10pm for a leisurely swim or some more vigorous exercise or perhaps a dip in the sea is more to your liking!
 
Golf – There is a championship course at The Burnham and Berrow Golf Club - Tel: 01278 783137
Burnham and Berrow Golf Club, St. Christopher's Way, Burnham-On-Sea, TA8 2PE - a second course at Brean Leisure Centre and an all weather driving range on the A38 between junction 22 of the M5 and Highbridge.
 
Amusement Arcades – arcades are available on Burnham Pier and also at Sunspot Amusements.
 
Fishing – at Apex Lake, see above or by hiring a boat, see below.
 
Boating and sailing – Fishing or sailing trips around Bridgwater Bay are available with a permit from the Tourist Information Centre, 01278 787852  
 
Brean Down Fort  - a National Trust site built in the 1860’s as a coastal defence across the Severn Estuary. It consists of an enclosed work with loopholed wall, a barrack block with a flat roof, and a dry moat.
 
Brent Knoll Hillfort – Brent Knoll is a 137 metre high rocky outcrop with superb views from the top of the surrounding countryside from the Bristol Channel to Cheddar Gorge and even over to Glastonbury Tor. At the top for those who wish to enjoy the walk and take in the dramatic views are the grassy remain of an iron age hill fort.
 
Brean Leisure Park – the UK’s biggest free admission theme park. 40 fantastic rides, dodgems, childrens river boat rides, pony rides, swimming pool complex and indoor top quality childrens acts and family entertainment. There is also one of Somerset’s leading night venues for cabaret where delicious food is served in a variety of eateries and an 18 hole golf course.
 
Animal Farm Country Park – 23 acres of farm land on the Somerset Levels behind Brean Sands the Park has a wide variety of exotic birds and unusual fowl and paddocks with llamas, goats, ponies and lots of other animals to get close up to. There is a playbarn, adventure playground, land train, cafe, shop, nature trails and plenty of events to keep the whole family occupied – something for everyone.
 
Burnham Carnival – an annual celebration featuring illuminated floats dating from the gunpowder plot of 1605. Held in early November the carnival starts at Tesco’s roundabout and takes in Love Lane, Manor Road, Victoria Street, High Street, Marine Drive and finishes opposite Holimarine Holiday Park. Lots of fun and gloriously decorated floats with lots of money raised for local charities.
 
 
Local places of interest
Cheddar Caves and Gorge
Wookey Hole Caves
Wells Cathedral
Glastonbury Tor
Woodspring Priory
 

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015