Castles Of England
Articles View Hits

Brean Down Fort

Visited  April 2012

Location Brean Down, Somerset
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes
Facilities Yes- by the car park, not in the Fort


In what is a slight change of direction for us, this review is not about a castle, but a Victorian fort. However, we felt that a military fort is close enough to the essence of a castle to warrant its inclusion, and besides we had an enjoyable visit which we wanted to share.



The fort was built in the 1860's under Lord Palmerston, to protect the Bristol Channel from the perceived threat of the French navy. It was manned by up to 50 men, but was never called into service and the military moved out in 1900. The only shot ever fired in anger from this fort was by  a young Gunner Haines, who apparently committed suicide by blowing himself up by firing his rifle into a gunpowder magazine in 1900.


The fort was then used as a tea shop until it was called back into action again during WW2. It was refortified with coastal guns and searchlights, and was the testing site of some experimental weapons, such as the bouncing bomb. At the end of the war the fort was once again abandoned, until in 2002 it came into the care of the National Trust and opened up to the public. There is  open access to most of the buildings, but the officers barracks and the lantern tunnels are only opened up by volunteers on certain days over the summer.



Having given a short history of the site, I must now warn that this fort is at the end of a headland, and it is about  a 1 1/2 mile walk from the car park. It is an extremely enjoyable and bracing walk, but it is not recommended for the infirm or very young children, and especially not for buggies! There are some very steep steps up to the top of the hill, although the walk is much easier once you have made it to the top. There are also no facilities at the fort, so make sure you use the cafe & loos located in the car park before you go up. Having said that  our children managed fine with the climb & walk, and there were lots of other children there on the day we visited. It obviously depends on the child but I would  advise caution with very young children.



The walk from the car park takes you across the headland, with wonderful views of the Bristol Channel, with the islands of Steepholm & Flatholm in the distance. We were very lucky with the weather on our April day as it was very calm and quite warm, but be prepared for the variances in the weather up on top of the hill.  The weird & wonderful trees make it clear which direction the wind blows up there!!!


Alternative Review- By Next Biggest Sis (aged 6)


I went to Brean Down Fort. We had to climb a lot of steep, tiring steps. It said that there were goats there. We took a low path and a high path to get there. We walked past Flatholm & Steepholm Islands until we got to the fort. It was built in the Victorian times. Once we were there we went in a few rooms. Some stank of goats poo (Ed's note- Goats do live on the headland!!!) When we headed back to the car, we knew we had passed a path which was close to the Atlantic ocean as we could feel an Atlantic breeze. At that moment we headed back to the car.  I liked the fort.


Featured Pics
Build A Castle