A Couple Of Eating Suggestions In Burton Bradstock

Three Horseshoes Pub

We’ve just come back from a long weekend in West Bay. We ate out a couple of times, coincidentally both times in nearby Burton Bradstock. We really enjoyed the two meals so I thought I’d highlight them here.

The Three Horseshoes

It’s only a five minute drive but on a lovely sunny Sunday January morning it was good to walk. There are a few different routes to get to Burton Bradstock. This time we started by walking up the old railway line from West Bay towards Bridport. Then we turned off to go around North Hill before coming down the other side into Burton Bradstock village. It was rather a muddy walk though several fields. We’d spent a while trying to scrape the mud off our boots but a sign saying “muddy boots allowed” when we arrived at The Three Horseshoes was welcome. It’s a lovely old stone-built thatched building (see photo above).

We’ve read good things about the pub and been keen to try it out for a while. However forward planning isn’t our strong point and each time we’ve tried to book we’d left it too late. This time we’d been luckier, although only just, a midday slot available. We sat in the restaurant part of the pub near a fire burning away in the wood burner. It all felt pleasant and comfortable. We shared a starter of bread with tapenade, oil vinegar and garlic butter with a pint and a cider. Yummy.

Three Horseshoes Burton Bradstock Starter

This was followed by the best Sunday roasts we’d had in ages and we’ve had quite a few! Both the beef and the lamb were delicious. They came with a big Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and a good selection of vegetables included cheesy leeks. There was even a jug of extra gravy.

Three Horseshoes Burton Bradstock Sunday Lunch

We were tempted by the puddings but were both pretty full by then so decided we’d  reward ourselves with an ice cream when we got back. We planned to go back along the coast path but it is still shut so instead walked through the golf course. And yes, we did have room for a Baboo Geleto ice cream back in West Bay. Thinking about that Sunday lunch I’m already looking forward to returning to the Three Horseshoes soon, just need to make sure we plan ahead.

Hive Beach Café

Two days later we were back again in Burton Bradstock. This time we drove to Hive Beach for lunch at the Hive Beach Café which is right by the beach. Arriving early we went for a walk up the hill next to the cafe, along to Cogden Beach and then back along the beach. The weather was rather grey that day and the sea looked grey too.

We’d booked into the cafe to take advantage of the Silver Surfers menu. It’s available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, two courses for £15 or three for £20, with a set menu which has a choice of three starters, three mains and a couple of deserts. I think it changes weekly. We thought it was for Over 55’s, one of the few benefits of getting older, but it did seem that anyone could have it if they wanted.

Hive Beach Cafe Silver Surfers MainMy husband went rogue and ordered the sardines main course but I stuck with the offer and had the fish main and a chocolate sundae pudding. The fish was stone bass, something I’ve looked up afterwards and it turns out it is a chunky fish with a huge mouth and a grumpy expression. I was oblivious to this when it arrived on my plate. It was a chunk of mild-flavoured, quite meaty fish. To be honest I find it hard to tell one white fish from another but it tasted nice and came with potatoes, shallots and leeks, plus a creamy puree. I was hungry and forgot to take a photo before it was rather too late!

The chocolate sundae, a mix of ice cream and cookies, was big enough for two. All in all, good value.

So there we have it, we come home pleased with our Burton Bradstock lunchtime choices and happy to recommend them here.

Has this whetted your appetite for a break away in West Dorset? If so you can get more information on staying in our cottage here. Head to our Enquire and Book page for availability, the rates and how to book.

A Weekend In West Bay

West Bay Cod & Chips

I was mulling over writing a post with ideas of how to make the most of a weekend in West Bay. A rough plan of where to go and what to do with a bit of a timetable too. Then I came across one that someone had made earlier. I like it. It suggests roughly the same things that I would. There’s lots more that I’d like to try to squeeze in but realistically it’s a good itinerary if you only have two days. I mean the weekend is meant to be enjoyable, not a mad race against the clock. The post has also got a nice little film, which is more than you’d get from one of mine. So rather than write my own post this time I thought I’d share this one with you: Click here.

Thanks to Claire, the owner of the blog. That’s a photo from the post at the top here (picture copyright Weekend Candy).

It almost goes without saying that our cottage is perfect for a West Bay weekend. By arriving on a Friday it means you wake up on Saturday ready for action. This is great as you really should visit Bridport Saturday morning / early afternoon with the market in full swing and Bucky Doo Square at it’s liveliest.

Read about 10 of our favourite things to do locally here.

Thinking of a weekend break in West Bay? We’d love to welcome you to West Bay Cottage. Please take a look inside the cottage or head to our Enquire and Book page for availability, the rates and how to book.

Inspiration For Your Romantic Break

Romantic break

Do you want to whisk someone off on a fabulous romantic break? West Dorset is a perfect destination. Perhaps some of these ideas will inspire your romantic escape to our cottage for that special getaway!

  • Enjoy a countryside walk and the dreamy scenery of gentle rolling hills.
  • Stroll around the harbour together with an ice cream or a bag of chips.
  • Simply take to the South West Coast Path and gaze at the beautiful coastline.
  • Feast your eyes on the blanket of bluebells across Eype Down in late spring.
  • Enjoy an afternoon cream tea at Downhouse Farm or The Seaside Boarding House.
  • Visit Bridport on a Saturday where you can meander all morning perusing the market, record and book shops, cool cafés, antique and craft stores.
  • Walk along a beach holding hands.
  • Pack a picnic and head to a scenic spot, perhaps Hardy’s Monument, St Catherine’s Chapel or a local beach.
  • Fly a kite on Eggerton Hill.
  • Tour a vineyard and enjoy a tasting at Furleigh Estate, a vineyard and winery.
  • Set off in a rowing boat and take in the glorious scenery while drifting along the River Brit.
  • Walk through the woods on Langdon Hill.
  • Enjoy a distillery tour, vodka cocktails and lunch at the Black Cow Distillery.
  • Take to the skies on a champagne balloon flight.
  • Take a portable barbecue and supplies to a secluded beach for an evening supper.
  • Head to Bridport early evening for a movie or a show at the art deco Electric Palace.
  • Get yourselves down to the pier at dusk, look towards Lyme and watch the sun sinking over the sea. You may be rewarded with a beautiful sunset.
  • Enjoy a candlelit meal in one of West Bay’s restaurants or pubs.
  • Make the most of Dorset’s dark sky and gaze at the stars together.
  • Snuggle in front of the wood burner in the cottage.

Feeling the love? So why not channel your inner Bridget Jones and visit West Dorset for a Full-Blown Mini-Break Holiday Weekend, or stay longer and explore all that the area has to offer. If you haven’t yet booked accommodation we’d love to welcome you to West Bay Cottage. Take a look inside the cottage, or head to our Book With Us page for availability, the rates and how to book.

Colmer’s Hill – Bridport’s Iconic Landmark

Colmer Hill on a cold Boxing Day

A walk up the distinctive Colmer’s Hill and a pootle around Symondsbury makes an enjoyable local trip from West Bay. Colmer’s Hill is highly visible when you visit Bridport. Look down West Street from the Town Hall and there it is, a backdrop to the street view. For locals travelling back to Bridport the sight of it is simply a sign they are home.

What is Colmer’s Hill?

It’s a pretty little hill almost 100 metres above sea level, rising above Symmondsbury Village on the western edge of Bridport. It has a symmetrical cone shape and is topped with a distinctive copse of pine trees. Its name was originally Sigismund’s Berg, after a Viking chieftain, Berg being Norwegian for hill. Sigismund landed with a raiding party near Bridport during the Viking invasions. It is said that the beacon at the top of the hill was burning at the time. Sigismund’s Berg merged over time into Symondsbury, giving its name to the nearby village. The name Colmer’s was given much later in the 19th century, named after the Reverend John Colmer. He was the landowner and local rector of Symondsbury from 1805-06.

The Colfox family, whose lands still include the hill, planted 21 Scots pines at the top in 1918 to commemorate local people who died in the First World War. Less than half of the original trees are left now. A few years ago a ring of Monterey pines were planted, so pine trees will always be there.

A Source of Inspiration

Colmer's Hill Hilary BuckleyMany artists and photographers have been drawn to Colmer’s Hill. The light constantly changes the hill’s appearance. It is often surrounded by a mist in the early morning or backed by a sunset in the evening. In early summer the southern facing side is covered with bluebells. In late Autumn the bracken becomes golden. Local artist Hilary Buckley has produced 53 different paintings to date of Colmer’s Hill with many available to buy as prints. Here is a block stamp print put together of all her paintings of the hill. Marion Taylor, another local artist, compiled a book of several artists’ pictures of the hill.

Climbing Colmer’s Hill

The walk up Colmer’s Hill is short and quite steep (but not as steep as East Cliff!). It gives you a great view from the top. The first time for us was on a very cold Boxing Day several years ago when we all felt the need for a little exercise after the usual Christmas overindulgence. This fitted the bill perfectly. The picture at the top was taken that afternoon. The wintery setting explains the lack of colour in a scene which is often such a vibrant inspiration to artists and photographers!

From West Bay it is about a ten minute drive to Symondsbury. Go left at The Crown roundabout. After about 3 minutes, at the summit of the A35 incline, turn right (B3162). Once off the A35 immediately turn left signed towards Symondsbury and the Ilchester Arms. Colmer’s Hill is clearly visible. In the centre of the village look for parking to the left of the Church (or park in Manor Yard, see below). The public footpath route is straight on up this lane and takes you around to the far side of Colmer’s Hill before climbing on it. There is also a well worn permissive path bearing left past a few garages in about 100 meters from the main road.

Having reached the trig point at the summit you will be rewarded with the grand views of the coast and rural landscape. A great spot for a photo. The public footpath continues West on to the knobbly top of Quarry Hill. This hill has views towards Chideock and Seatown and Colmer’s Hill itself.

Symondsbury Village

Symondsbury is an ancient, pretty village with a church, village school and country pub. Manor Yard, part of the Symondsbury Estate, contains several shops, artisan workshops and a cafe centered around a lovely tithe barn which dates back to the 14th Century. The cafe, Symondsbury Kitchen, serves breakfast, lunch and a selection of cakes and coffee. Surely you deserve a slice of cake after your climb? One of the shops in the yard, Bridport Cycles, hires out bikes and there is an 8 km bike trail from the yard around the estate.

The pub, The Ilchester Arms, is a 16th century village inn with oak beams and a huge open fireplace in the bar area. We’ve not eaten there but we do know they stock Palmers ale. Good if you are a little parched after your walk!

You can also set off from Symondsbury to walk down the mysterious holloway mentioned here. There’s a network of these secret tracks between Symondsbury and North Chideock.

Would you like to visit the area and go on some of the beautiful local walks? If you would and haven’t yet booked accommodation, we’d love to welcome you to West Bay Cottage. Take a look inside the cottage, or head to our Book With Us page for availability, the rates and how to book.

An Ancient Path Called A Holloway

Hell Lane

Did you see the series on ITV last year called Best Walks With A View with Julia Bradbury? In one episode she was in West Dorset on a Golden Cap walk. She started inland in Symondsbury and from there walked off down a footpath, a Dorset holloway.

What’s a holloway?

The name holloway name comes from the Old English “hola weg”, meaning a sunken road. Over hundreds of years the wearing action of feet, cartwheels and rain have deepened sandy tracks in the soft sandstone rock in South Dorset, gouging paths into the bedrock itself and creating deep ditches. Long since abandoned as thoroughfares, and overgrown with brambles and bushes, the paths are often now unknown to all but locals.

Holloway BookThe author Robert Macfarlane has written about them in his book Holloway. Stanley Donwood illustrated it. He is best known for his work on Radiohead albums.

The holloway near Symondsbury was probably a drove trail used to move cattle and other animals from farms to markets or perhaps a pilgrimage route. It’s likely that heavy carts took stone along it to Symondsbury from the local quarry. Maybe smugglers, having taken their contraband up from Seatown beach, used the sunken lane to surreptitiously transfer goods inland?

Our spooky walk

We decided to go and walk the holloway ourselves. With Shutes Lane it connects Symondsbury with North Chideock. We parked in Symondsbury, climbed up and back down Colmers Hill, and then walked out of the village.

For a while our path was just an ordinary country lane but then the greenery thickened. Soon steep walls of rock towered above us on both sides. We continued our walk through what was now a narrow gorge. Gnarled tree roots were exposed out of the rocks, ivy trailed down. Trees above us filtered the light making it felt at times as if we were travelling down a tunnel. Over countless years many passersby had stopped to etch messages, names, faces, giant eyes and other shapes into the rocks. Were we imagining it or did the atmosphere feel a little sinister as we continued along the shadowed path? The name of it did nothing to dispel this vague sense of unease… Hell Lane. I wonder why it is called that?

Are you thinking you’d like to visit the area and go on the beautiful Golden Cap walk? If you are and you haven’t yet booked accommodation, we’d love to welcome you to West Bay Cottage. Take a look inside the cottage, or head to our Book With Us page for availability, the rates and how to book.