A Walk Up Colmer’s Hill near Bridport
Colmer’s Hill is an iconic part of the West Dorset landscape. This pretty little hill (it’s only 417ft high), perches above Symondsbury on the edge of Bridport and seems to hold court over the surrounding countryside.
Whenever I am driving from the Dorchester direction, I know I’m nearly home when I see Colmer’s Hill. It’s neat shape and the copse of pine trees on the brow are the subject of a great many excellent photographs and paintings. In no way can I compete with the dedicated photographers who take amazing sunrise photos, capture stunning sunsets or get up at the crack of dawn on frosty mornings – just google some images and you will see what I mean.
There are a number of country lanes and public footpaths in and around the pretty village of Symondsbury, so you can easily extend this walk. However, the main access up to Colmer’s Hill is actually by permissive footpaths, (i.e it’s at the permission of the land owner). That may explain why for a long time I thought it was out of bounds to the public – so yes, I have to admit this was the first time I’d ever walked up Colmer’s Hill.
In the last few years the Symondsbury Estate has been developed and a series of once run down farm buildings restored into Manor Yard, with lovely shops and a cafe. This means that there is a safe place to park and start this walk, as well as the chance for some retail therapy at the end if you want. I heard that a new home and garden centre is going to open soon which will be a great draw.
On this occasion I joined a group of Lyme Bay Ladies and various doggy companions for the walk – it was relatively short, taking us about 45 minutes.
The route basically took us round the back of Colmer’s Hill, up over the top and then down at the front of the hill.
Directions for the Walk
Here are my simple directions! From the car park turn right as if you were driving home and after 100 metres take the gate on the left into the field. Follow your nose across three or four fields heading towards the hill. Then start to bear left and gently up. Be warned there were sheep in a number of the fields so our dogs were on leads most of the way.
At the top there is a Trig point (that stone thing in the picture) and really fabulous vistas of West Dorset, East Devon and out to the sea. There’s plenty of shade under the trees. It would make the perfect spot for a small picnic.
The climb up is quite steep but steady, but there’s no shortage of reasons to stop and admire the view.
Bluebells in Spring
On our walk we were delighted to see a swathe of bluebells on the hillside, which I thought was unusual to see in such numbers as they usually prefer more shady woodland areas.
After admiring the views and taking the obligatory photos, we headed back towards Symondsbury over the front of the hill. My friend and I were lagging behind and nearly got lost once we reached the village as we were not sure which way to turn (downhill was the answer!), but we soon caught up.
Those who could stay headed for the Symonsbury Kitchen cafe. I enjoyed a very nice (if slightly pricey) coffee and flapjack. Dogs are allowed inside which was a great bonus, although there is seating outside as well.
The River of Poppies
In November 2018 the Symondsbury Estate organised the fabulous display of the River of Poppies to commemorate the 100 years of Armistice. An amazing effort by volunteers from across the community to make and secure the installation of poppies flowing down the hill. Here are some pictures by local photographer Doug Chalk
A Longer Walk
Here is a comment left on Facebook that may be of interest for anyone wanting to extend the walk, it sounds great (thank you Alan Emmett)
“Don’t just go up Colmer’s hill. Walk down the secret hidden Hell Lane into North Chideock, follow a loop footpath over a hidden abandoned sand stone quarry on top of a hill and arrive back at Colmer’s hill. It’s in all about 3 miles and takes about just over an hour with stunning views all the way. Don’t forget to take your dog.”
The village of Symondsbury is less than a mile off the A35 to the West of Bridport. From the Charmouth direction take the first tuning left off to Bridport. From West Bay head towards Charmouth and take the first right off at the end of the Bridport bypass.
Once off the A35 immediately head towards Bridport and take the 3rd turning on your left (Duck Street), look out for the Symondsbury Manor signs. Follow the signs all the way to the main entrance and car park. The post code is DT6 6HG.