Circular countryside walk: Colmer’s Hill and Symondsbury Estate with coffee stop (near Bridport)
1 mile countryside circular walk with views in Symondsbury, near Bridport, in West Dorset
Dogs welcome on leads
Public toilet at Symondsbury Estate
Note: Opening hours and facilities may differ during the Coronavirus outbreak. Find updates here.
I’m not great at estimating distances, but we managed this walk up Symondsbury’s iconic Colmer’s Hill just fine with a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old - it took us about an hour, including a short picnic stop. It’s probably only a mile, but does have some very steep ascents and descents!
(When I say ‘managed just fine’, I mean the 4-year-old dragged her feet pretty much all of the way as hills aren’t really her thing, but with a couple of brief heroic carries up the steepest hill in the area and the bribe of a Twix at the top, we made it a successful outing.)
This route is not suitable for buggies, but you can take babies in carriers if you’re confident to manage on steep slopes. Dogs are welcome but must be on leads.
You can make the route slightly longer by starting from the back of the gravel car park belonging to Symondsbury Estate (a charming collection of independent shops and units, tithe barn, a home & garden shop and a café), but as we were catering for little legs we parked by Symondsbury Church in the village and started from there. A free map of the full route can be collected from Symondsbury Store in the estate yard.
Taking Shute’s Lane, to the left-hand side of St John’s Church, follow the bumpy track under the cover of trees until the ‘tunnel’ opens out into daylight – here you’ll see gates to your left and right. Go through the gate on your left signposted ‘permissive path Colmer’s Hill’, and follow the natural pathway through the fields (alongside lots of friendly sheep and lambs) – it’s uphill all the way!
Andy and the girls regretted not wearing wellies as the fields were wet even on a June day and they also picked up their fair share of sheep poo which I’m looking forward to cleaning off later. Hint: probably best to wear wellies any time of year so you can be hosed down if necessary.
It’s an intuitive route to follow and you’ll soon find yourself standing at the base of the spine of Colmer’s Hill, notable for its collection of pine trees at the top. After a steep climb, you’re rewarded with views across miles of rolling Dorset countryside, looking over Symondsbury, Bridport, and over to the sea at Eype and beyond.
Heading back to Symondsbury village again starts with a steep descent down the other side of the hill, but once at the base it’s a gentle downhill walk skirting around the perimeter of Symondsbury Manor and its walled gardens before retracing your steps down Shute’s Lane back to the church again. One reason why I like this walk is that you’ll not find any cattle en-route – I can deal with sheep, but not keen on cows!
Just beyond the church, you’ll find Symondsbury Estate, which plays host to some great family events throughout the year - in particular the traditional summer fete (in non-COVID times) complete with old-fashioned fayre games, falconry and a Punch & Judy show! Follow the Symondsbury Estate’s Facebook page to keep tabs on upcoming dates.
Happily, there’s also a great café – Symondsbury Kitchen – which is a welcome stop for coffee, cake and lunch - walkers are welcome. Note: June 2020 – café open for takeaway only, check here for updates. Next time we do this walk, we’ll replace the bribe of a Twix with the superior reward of a slice of the café’s flapjack.
In fine weather, the café opens out onto its own terrace next to the beautiful Tithe Barn, and kids can spill out and play on the little lawn beyond (as long as there aren’t any weddings taking place that day!).
There’s also a small village shop, home & garden store and ladies fashion boutique, should you manage to have a little browse with little ones in tow.
A little about the history of Colmer’s Hill can be found here, along with info on the shops and outlets on the Estate.