There is a Brean Down guide book, written in 1921, which has a short paragraph telling the whereabouts of a freshwater spring: “Just below the iron hut there is a little path which leads down through the bushes to a place marked by an iron post at the top of the rocks….where there is an easy slope down into a wide sheltered bay of shingle and stones. A short way to the left is a spring of clear, fresh water at the foot of the rocks, walled in with worn bricks.”
We managed to get hold of an original copy of this 1921 Brean Down guide book quite by chance from an antique book dealer in Clevedon for a few pounds. Looking for something to do one weekend, the enticing description seemed perfect for a winter afternoon trip to Brean Down.
What used to be a “little path” 89 years ago has now long been reclaimed by Mother Nature and replaced by almost impenetrable brambles and bushes, so we had to look for another route. Nearer the fort the fishermen have found a path down to the beach, so it is this which we followed, knowing we would have a long walk along the slippery boulders on the beach to where we thought the spring might be. Soon freshwater was spotted amongst the boulders and Paul waypointed the location of the water on his GPS and due to the rising tide we headed back, disappointed we didn’t have more time.
Several weeks later we tried again to find the “little path” and “easy slope”. We found an almost impossible path and a steep slope, but Paul’s oldest son did manage to get down to the beach. Another GPS waypoint was taken as once again time and tide were against us.
Not wanting to give up now we had started, we both made another trip a week later. We headed straight to the cliff edge (albeit cut to ribbons on the brambles) and clambered down to the beach. Our first task was to see if the location of the hoist could be found. We did find some metalwork which could have been a hoist, so after waypointing and photographing we headed to where we had previously found the water running from the cliff to see if we could find the “worn bricks” mentioned back in 1921. We were both about to give up when Paul noticed some bricks! How we hadn’t seen them the first time we’ll never know, but there they were; “worn bricks” and a spring of fresh water……..
So, after 89 years we had finally found the spring!