Walkers can now use the Cleeve Hill B3191 cliff top road as part of the coast path following a specialist report commissioned by Somerset Council.

Temporary access is being provided in time for the Easter holidays allowing pedestrians to use the route from Good Friday. Further work will be done over the coming weeks to provide a safe arrangement that will enable the access to be shared with cyclists.

The road will remain closed to motor vehicles, including motorbikes, on safety grounds.

The road closed in January 2023, following concerns about cliff stability and since then the Council has been working with Watchet Task Force, representing the Town Council and Chamber of Trade, to minimise the impact of the closure, with a package of measures to promote and support the town.

This package has included ongoing surveys of the cliff and road to see if access for pedestrians could be safely provided at a future point. Now, on the back of a report by geological consultants Geckoella following months of careful monitoring, Somerset Council has concluded access for walkers could be allowed.

However, the report found the road cannot be opened to motor vehicles due to concerns about weight issues and the proximity to the cliff edge. Motorcycles cannot safely use the route either as the plan is for it to be a dedicated route only for walkers, cyclists and mobility scooter or wheelchair users.

Councillor Richard Wilkins, Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital said: “This is fantastic news. We know the closure of the Cleeve Hill road was extremely difficult for the community in Watchet and has caused a lot of concern.
“The Council has been working with Watchet Task Force to minimise this, and our consultant has been looking whether some kind of access was possible.
“Providing access to walkers, and eventually cyclists is going to be hugely beneficial for Watchet and the nearby holiday parks towards Blue Anchor.
“We’re delighted this is now happening. It means holiday makers and residents affected by the closure can now leave their cars and walk into town in a matter of minutes – it’s great for tourism and for local businesses.”

Councillor Sean Terrett, Chair of Watchet Task Force and Watchet Town Councillor, said: “On behalf of the Watchet Task Force I would like to express my gratitude to Somerset Council’s Highways Team as well as the consultants at Geckoella for their hard work in making this possible.

“I am sure that our town’s many visitors, residents and businesses will be very excited to see this popular walking and cycling route restored and reconnected to the tourist hotspots located within the Cleeve Hill area.
“The positive impact this will have on our town’s many shops this Easter and throughout the summer will be phenomenal, and one that we as a community have truly missed since the closure of the B3191.

“We look forward to welcoming friends old and new from the walking community and in some weeks’ time from the cycling community to our beautiful town, with open arms.”

Walkers are urged to stay away from the unstable cliff edge – signage will be put in place along with more permanent measures to ensure people’s safety.
The coast is a dynamic environment, and providing access is conditional on continued monitoring and surveys of the cliff edge to ensure that public safety is monitored proactively.

Photo of people pointing to a yellow pedestrian access only sign on a metal fence

About this article

April 5, 2024

Andrew Doyle

Press Release