A Walk to Colmer’s Hill

Prior to setting off on this trip I studied the Ordnance Survey maps of the area to identify the local trig pillars I had not yet bagged.  Visiting trigs has been an element of my walking for a few years now and I try to regularly encompass them into my routes.  I have worked out there are a couple within striking distance of the caravan site, one of which will be on today’s walk.

Lynnie is joining me today and due to the muddy conditions and my dodgy ankle the route should be a round 7 miles which receives her nod of approval.  We leave the site via the footpath close to Pitch 10 and head downhill across fields towards Bridport.

At the junction with the Hardy Way footpath we turn left and walk back up the hill and then go through a gate to pass by the edge of the farm buildings on Washingpool Farm before continuing on the footpath as it heads downhill towards another gate.

The Hardy Way is a long distance circular walk around Dorset connecting locations associated with Thomas Hardy.  This section  continues downhill and then crosses a stream before heading uphill to another gate.  At a fork in the path we go to the right to head along the edge of the field with the hedge on our right hand side heading towards Middle Pymore Farm.

On reaching a junction of paths near the farmhouse we turn left and head west on the route of the Monarch’s Way.  This passes through a gateway and descends to another gate before heading uphill to cross a stile and then continue over another field towards the B3162.

We go over another stile and then cross the road and turn left and almost immediately right into Bilshay Lane which we follow to Bilshay Farm.  This 18th century grade II listed farmhouse is part of the Symondsbury Estate which covers 1,500 acres and includes a number of properties.  

These days with modern farming methods there is little need to have farmhouses for workers and like many rural estates Symondsbury has converted former farm properties into holiday accommodation.  Apparently Bilshay Farmhouse sleeps up to nine people and a quick look at the website suggests it is a popular location.

At the end of the track we turn left and then after about 100 metres take a footpath that heads downhill towards a stream.

Crossing the stream we turn right and then left and then head uphill still on the route of the Monarch’s Way.  This 625 mile long distance path starts in Worcester and roughly follows the route that King Charles II took to Shoreham in 1651 following his defeat by Oliver Cromwell in the final battle of the English Civil War.

After crossing a minor road, Broadoak Road, we continue on the Monarch’s Way on a track towards Axen Farm, this another farm on the Symondsbury Estate and once again the former farmhouse is now holiday accommodation.  The track takes us past the former farm building and then at a junction of tracks we turn left to leave the Monarch’s Way.

We are now heading south and follow the track through fields.

Soon in front of us is a good view of Colmer’s Hill which is part of the Symondsbury Estate.  Apparently the name of the hill dates back to the 17th century when the area around the hill was known as Colmer Tenement.  During the 17th and 18th century the Colmer family worked this land and were tenants of the then owners the Dukes of Somerset.

During the First World War John Sparke, woodman to the Colfox family who then owned the estate, planted the distinctive Caledonian Pine trees on top of the hill in memory of local men who were killed in battle, in more recent years Monterey Pine have been added to the hill.

The track leads us onto Shutes Lane where we turn left and then after about 50 metres go through a gate on the right to join a permissive path that heads steeply up Colmer’s Hill.

At the top of the hill amongst the pine trees sits an Ordnance Survey Trig Pillar, this is the 430th trig I have bagged.

For much of our walk the sky has been overcast, but suddenly the sun emerges and we decide the summit of the hill would make an ideal lunch spot from which to enjoy the views.

Refreshed we follow the well-worn path down the hill into Symondsbury.

In the village we turn left at a road junction and pass St John the Baptist’s church which dates to the 14th century.

We walk through the village on Broadoak Road until we reach a footpath on the right beside the sheepwash, the original construction is said to have been built during the Napoleonic Wars. It was used until the early 1950’s to wash the sheep before shearing, this increased the value of the fleece. In the 1960’s the sheepwash was used for sheep dipping, the dipping solution ran into the stream so this wasn’t the most environmentally friendly process.

The footpath leads to a path beside a nursery and then over a stile into a field.  Unfortunately a tree has fallen and makes it difficult, but not impossible, to cross the stile.  The path takes us through fields and in front of Crepe Farm Cottage,  another estate property now used as holiday accommodation.

The footpath crosses a footbridge over a stream, the stile leading to the footbridge needs a bit of care because of the slippery ground.

After crossing the bridge the path goes to the right beside the stream and then joins a track where we go left and then take a footpath which head south across a field towards the B3162.

Crossing the road we join a track leading towards Vearse Farm.  It is soon obvious that this area is about to be turned into a huge construction site.  

We take a footpath on the left which leads off the track and across a couple of muddy fields to bring us back into Bridport.  I later read that this land on Vearse Farm has approval for 760 homes and will be known as Foundry Lea.

This land sits beside the River Simene and is extremely boggy, not an area where I would want to own a home.  The Bridport News on-line carries an article from December 2023 with pictures of the flooding which covered the fields we are now walking on.  Whilst I fully appreciate there is a need to build new houses I can’t understand why anyone would think it sensible to construct them on a flood plain, especially given the warnings about future weather patterns.

Leaving the fields we reach a road, Magdalen Lane and go straight over to walk beside the river  passing industrial units.  Keeping the river to our left we continue on to a play area and then cross the river to enter a car park and coach station.  Our route from here is to follow the road through Allington and then take the footpath back to Washingpool Farm.  

You can view this 7 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here

To follow my walk, you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL15 – Purbeck & South Dorset

20th March 2024

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2024)

All information on this site is provided free of charge and in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of damage, loss or injury which might result from it.  To the best of my knowledge the routes are entirely on public rights of way or within areas that are open for public access.
Walking can be hazardous and is done entirely at your own risk.  It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass.

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