Nestling at the foot of Porlock Hill at the western end of the Porlock Vale, Porlock lies between a shingle ridge, with extensive views over the Bristol Channel, and by the lovely moorland of the Exmoor National Park. It is a delightful village with many individual and interesting shops and a visitor centre. The larger coastal resort of Minehead is only seven miles away.
The place name is believed to come from the Saxon “portlocan”, meaning an enclosed harbour. It was once the seat of the West Saxon kings, and was invaded by Danish pirates in 918. The village was burnt by Harold, son of Earl Godwin, who sailed here from Ireland in 1052. There are still said to be traces of Harold’s camp. In time it became a busy market town but, by the latter half of the 19th century, it was a fairly quiet place whose inhabitants were mainly engaged in fishing and related industries.
Porlock Weir was once a busy port, presumably because of the original natural harbour, but the little harbour is now a peaceful haven for yachts and a few fishing boats. Just a short walk along the coast is Culbone, which boasts the smallest church in England. The South West Coastal footpath runs close to the village along Porlock Bay.
Porlock Hill is noted for its steepness and is a hard climb to quite a height above sea level. The picturesque Toll Road is another route towards Exmoor and lovely North Devon. In this wild, untamed countryside, Exmoor ponies roam freely and it is sometimes possible to glimpse the red deer that roam the Exmoor National Park. This is Lorna Doone country and the fictional heroine was said to have been shot in Oare Church. The view from Dunkery Beacon is stunning, although the claim that it is possible to see sixteen counties from here is clearly untrue! There are certainly a number of prehistoric standing stones and some ancient burial barrows on Exmoor.
Not far from Porlock is Horner Mill in the picturesque hamlet of Horner, where there is an attractive early Victorian three-storey water mill. This is just one of the pretty villages within easy reach for visitors staying in this area. Cycling, fishing, golf and shooting are just some of the activities available within a short distance of Porlock, and of course there is always the sea and associated water sports.
Holiday accommodation ranges from thatched cottages and farmhouses to the more expensive hotels. There are also camping and caravan sites within easy reach.