Sometimes you want an energetic stomp, but sometimes you just want a gentle saunter, and today being that day, we put the dog in the back of the car and headed to Langdon Hill in Morcombelake.
Easily accessible just off the A35 and halfway between Lyme Regis and Bridport, it’s a nice walk if you’re on your way to or from somewhere, as well as a destination in its own right.
With a large car park, wide, level, well surfaced (compacted flint) paths and no major hills, the loop around the top of Langdon Hill is a nice easy walk for most people, and brilliant for buggies and kids on bikes. For those with limited mobility, you can even hire a Tramper all-terrain mobility scooter (May-end September) and follow one of the Tramper Trails. The basic loop is about 1.4m, and takes you on the level around the top of the wooded hill, through fantastic beech woods and stands of atmospheric pines. In autumn especially, the beech trees are fantastic, with deep drifts of very crisp leaves which just have to be kicked through and flung about.
If you want more of a challenging walk, there are lots of options as the hill forms part of the National Trust’s Golden Cap Estate, which is criss-crossed by paths, including sections of the South West Coastal Path and lots of inland paths through farmland that is managed with nature and biodiversity in mind, so the bird life, wildflowers and insects are abundant and varied. Going west, it is a short (but admittedly steep!) detour up to Golden Cap. The highest point on the south coast this has amazing views in all directions, and is well worth a short bout of breathlessness to see on a clear day. To the east is Seatown, with the pebbly beach and the rather excellent Anchor Inn, which is well worth a walk. There is a nice green lane heading diagonally from the car park down to Seatown, so it’s not too far after a pint or one of their excellent, imaginative, locally sourced dishes.
The National Trust have published walks etc for the Golden Cap Estate, and often run events there, for adults and families. You can find at least one geocache, and if you are a keen birder, can record your sightings to add to the National Trust’s records.
If you need a drink and some supplies before or after your walk, just next to the entrance to the lane up to Langdon Hill is Felicity’s Farm Shop. This must surely win the prize for the most amazing view from any shop, as the car park has incredible views down to the sea at St Gabriels, between the hills and the patchwork of fields. However, that is not the point – it also boasts a very wide range of produce, from the basics to lovely foodie gifts, and has a good selection of gardening and cooking kit, seeds, plants and anything else you may be persuaded you need. There is a small cafe, and they also sell a very good selection of meat and charcuterie – their Bellair Haye pork is home-reared just across the road, and is excellent, with proper, crispy, old-fashioned crackling and a fine flavour.
Also in Morecombelake is Annie’s Tea Rooms, which prides itself on homemade soups and cakes, and a warm welcome. They run events and special offers, and offer things like a fisherman’s lunchbox delivery service. Morecombelake is also home to the bakery responsible for some of the smuttiest Dorset jokes. Moores have produced biscuits since 1880, and their bakery makes and sells biscuits, cakes and fresh bread, but they are probably best known for their Dorset Knobs. Funny knobbledy little buns, these are reputedly what was done to use up the residual heat in the ovens at the end of a baking session. Dry and crumbly, they go perfectly with cheese and chutney, but are also quite addictive served just with indecent amounts of butter. They are celebrated each year at Cattistock’s annual Dorset Knob Throwing Festival, home of events such as ‘Pin the Knob on the Cerne Abbas Giant’, Knob Eating, Knob Darts etc. This is also now a major food festival, attended by many of the region’s many artisan food producers.
So, for an easy ramble or an energetic hike, a quick cuppa or a bit of leisurely knob shopping, head to Langdon Hill, and catch the fabulous autumn leaves before the winter storms steal the lot!