Burton Bradstock from West Bay

A couple of weeks ago we were discussing potential spots to visit in 2024 and Lynnie suggested a trip to West Dorset.  She is a Dorset girl and grew up near the coast so occasionally feels the need to see the sea.  It did not take us long to decide to return to Washingpool Farm caravan site which is situated on the outskirts of Bridport.  

We last visited this site in 2014, at that time it was a five van CL, now it is a commercial site and there are eleven well spaced pitches. Since our last visit toilets and showers have been installed.  On arrival we were warmly welcomed by Simon the owner.

After pitching up yesterday we wandered into Bridport and stopped in “The Pursuit of Hoppiness” for an excellent pint, or two, of beer.  Over our ale we made some rough plans for our stay.  In recent weeks I have been struggling with an injured ankle which means my mileage has reduced drastically.  Hopefully whilst in this part of the country I will be able to manage a few five to six mile walks.

Today’s walk starts from the Station Yard Car park at West Bay, this is a pay and display car park and before setting off I downloaded the App so I don’t have to fumble about looking for change.  The car park is so named because it used to be part of the railway terminus at West Bay.

In 1879 Great Western Railway decided to extend the line that ran into Bridport town to the harbour and called the new station West Bay. The line opened in 1884 but apparently closed to passengers in 1930 continuing to operate a goods service until its full closure in 1962.

The old station remains and along with some carriages has been converted into a cafe.

Our route follows the old trackway as it heads north.

After just over half a mile we cross the Burton Road at Wych and take a bridlepath on the opposite side which is waymarked for the Brit Valley Circular Walk.  After a few hundred yards the route joins a tarmac driveway heading east.

After passing some bungalows and stopping to look at the view back towards West Bay we continue along the track and enter the Bothenhampton reserve.  This site is managed by Bridport Town Council, it was formally a quarry that was worked for a number of centuries and provided a limestone known as Forest Marble which was renowned for its strength and waterproof qualities.

We stay on the main track through the nature reserve ignoring paths that lead to left and right and pass the entrance to the Bothenhampton Bridport reservoir.  Soon the track opens out and passes farmland and then after going through a gate we head uphill and pass a couple of benches with fine views back towards West Bay.

To our right is a trig point on North Hill.  It is not one I have previously bagged, we could get to it from here but we are going to approach it from the east.  Our route follows the footpath across the field with the fence line on our left.  This takes us to a gate leading onto a track.

This narrow track soon broadens out as it passes the entrance to Pitfold Farm and then at a gate on the right we leave the track and enter a field.  The footpath signs on the gateway are very overgrown with ivy and brambles. Unfortunately I don’t have my secateurs in the rucksack so I am unable to make them more visible.

There is a well-worn path heading south across the field.  The ground is very soggy with surface water laying in parts and it’s surprising that sheep are grazing here, but I suppose, given the wet winter, it is difficult to find any land which is not waterlogged.

Reaching the brow of the hill we make a diversion from the footpath and turn to the right and head towards a gate which leads into the field with the North Hill Ordnance Survey trig point.  

This is the 429th trig I have bagged and this one has stunning panoramic views.

We retrace our route back to the footpath and continue to head south.  After crossing a stile we head downhill towards a gate.

Going through the gate we join muddy track that continues to head downhill towards a gate into a field.

In the field we keep going south to reach a kissing gate beside a B road.  We cross the road and take a footpath into a field, keeping close to the left edge of it to reach another kissing gate at a junction of paths.  Now we leave the field and cross the road before turning right to walk along the pavement into Burton Bradstock.

We pass the Grade II listed Anchor Inn which was built in the mid 1800’s and has a number of interesting features including some wonderful windows.

We were planning to walk through the village down the B road, but a local advises us it is safer to follow the road to the church and come into the village lower down.  Taking his advice we go down Church Street and pass the WI Hall and Village Library to reach St Mary’s Church.

We normally look inside a church, but are conscious that our boots are extremely muddy so decide it would be best not to risk dirtying the floors.  Our route in now down Mill Street passing old machinery from the flax mill.

The making of products from flax and hemp was a main part of village life for centuries.  The village’s website records that as early as the 16th century villagers were making rope.  This was viewed as a threat to the rope makers of Bridport who supplied the Royal Navy,  so the government banned rope from being made within a 5 mile radius of Bridport.

In the late 18th century an entrepreneur called Richard Roberts lived in the village and he set up a business that traded flax and hemp based products worldwide.

Whilst walking over North Hill earlier we could see rain approaching and there is now a steady drizzle as we walk through the village and past the Post Office and then turn left beside the Three Horse Shoes pub soon crossing the River Bride.  As the road turns to the left we cross and briefly join Cliff Road before turning right into Southover.  

After passing allotments on the right we reach a gate at the end of the track and continue on a footpath which forms part of the Hardy Way which is a long distance circular walk around Dorset connecting locations associated with Thomas Hardy.

The path divides after the gate, taking the lower path we pass through fields to reach a footbridge over the River Bride which leads into a field beside a large caravan park.

Following the path through the caravan park we head towards Freshwater Bay.  Work is going on to build a shingle bank as a sea defence.  

It was our intention to walk along the beach back to West Bay, however the tide is in and there are warning signs not to venture onto the beach below the cliffs even at low tide.  This area of the Jurassic coastline is prone to massive landslips and the last thing we want is to feature on the news being buried under hundreds of tons of rock and fossils.

The coast path going above the cliff is also closed so we return through the caravan park and take the footpath heading west through the holiday complex to reach the edge of the Bridport and West Dorset Golf Course.

The path through the golf course is well used and easy to follow.  This club was formed in 1891 originally playing on the West Cliff and is reportedly the first golf course created in Dorset.  The course opened with nine holes and a local history website records in 1902 the Captain made an unusual ruling that members must wear red jackets to prevent casualties to the sheep!  

In 1911 the course then moved to its current site on the East Cliff and was extended in 1921 to eighteen holes. 

We leave the path through the golf course via a stile and then head downhill across a field with West Bay in front of us.

After going over another stile we join a lane and turn left and are soon back at our starting point.  Our walk has covered just over five miles, a short walk by more normal standards but it is just about far enough on my injured leg.

You can view this 5 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

18th 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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