Dorset walk around West Bay and Shipton Gorge
- Credit: Archant
Edward Griffiths enjoys spectacular views across West Bay and Lyme Regis on this fabulous coastal and valley walk
Distance: 7 miles (11.25km)
Time: 4 1/2 hours
Exertion: Not too strenuous if you take your time on the 200ft ascent out of Bothenhampton. Ridge walks are easy.
Start: West Bay car park, very reasonable, in West Bay Road. (Grid Ref: SY465905)
Map: OS Landranger Sheet 193
Public Transport: First Jurassic Coast Line X53 and 253
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Dogs: On leads in fields (there are lots of sheep and lambs around) and on roads
Refreshments: Coffee at Tea Station in the car park. Tea from the seafront western promenade kiosk. Fish and chips kiosks around the harbour. West Bay bar meals from George Inn, Bridport Arms and West Bay Inn.
There are many spectacular views on this walk. From West Bay’s delightful harbour, along the River Brit into Bridport, up onto the ridge with sea views over the whole of Bridport and West Bay. As you descend slowly into the lush green valley, where you will find the pretty village of Shipton Gorge, enjoy lovely views over fields to the Knoll above Puncknowle. Returning along the second ridge, pause to soak up wonderful coastal views over Lyme Bay to Devon; the final descent is through Bothenhampton Nature Reserve and along the old railway track to West Bay station and car park. Wonderful!
1 From the car park, walk along West Bay Road. Around the right bend to the harbour, follow the walled pavement with harbour left, over sluice gates, to the roundabout. Cross right into West Bay Caravan Park, passing the bridleway-arrow post. Follow the main drive, nearest the right flood-defence bank. Reaching the left bend, continue along the concrete path at No.38 right, between caravans to the shady footpath-track with River Brit right. Through the kissing-gate, follow the fenced path to another kissing-gate and follow the right hedge path to kissing-gate into the next field.
2 Cross to the hedge-gap, then to the kissing-gate under the distant by-pass bridge. Through, follow the field path to kissing-gate and cattle-grid by the thatched cottage. In 25 yards, take the right ‘Bridport’ footpath through to the River Brit and along to Palmer’s Brewery. Emerging onto the bridge, turn right. At the traffic lights, cross at the left pedestrian lights to the footpath-signed gates. Follow the cycle way along the river to the footbridge, where you turn right for ‘Bothenhampton’ to 1½ gates onto the by-pass. Cross on the left ‘island’ into Pasture Way. At the T-junction, go left up Crock Lane and turn right, then left into Nordons, then right to the path between two garages, 77 right.
3 Go left at the paths’ T-junction and steadily ascend the shaded sunken path to steps. Over the two-way footpath-stile, turn right. Follow the wood’s edge up the field, with superb views, to the footpath-stile/gate. Over, ignore the left track down but continue climbing up to the ridge, passing a stone marker, to another stile. Continue to the fence’s footpath-posted gap. Through, cross the top field to the fence-corner footpath-gate. Through, bear half-right across the field to the unsigned gate. Through, follow the right hedge/fence to the footpath-gate into the next field. Keep following the right hedge, with Shipton Hill ahead, to another stile/gate.
4 Over into a tracks’ T-junction, go through the opposite corner footpath-gap. Bear ¼-right down the field to the far corner gate. Through, walk down to the footpath-pointer and down the hedged track to the road junction. Cross into Port Lane and walk down into Shipton Gorge. In the village, turn right, up and round the bend to St Martin’s church. In the churchyard, pass the south porch and sunny seat. Look right for the footbridge down in the field below. Through the iron gate, turn right. Over two stone stiles, and through the two-way footpath kissing-gate, aim for that footbridge, following any previously-used path down the meadow.
5 Over the bridge, walk up to the footpath-gate. Through, walk up the field, aiming for the dip right of the two houses, to the hedge gap/stile. Over, cross to the hedge gap. Through, bear right up the field to the footpath-signed stile/gate. Over into the road, turn left. Up past the left bridleway, take the right lane with sea views left. In ½ mile, keep straight on as the lane bends right to Bennetts Hill Farm. Past a left bridleway-gate and ruined stone barn, follow the fenced track for 3/8 mile. When the track bend right to a gate, keep straight on to a ‘Brit Valley’ (BV) gate into a field with Thorncombe Beacon and Lyme Bay views. Follow the right fence to another BV-gate.
6 Into the next field, follow the ridge. Then, past a BV fence post and a bench, descend to a BV/bridleway half-gate into a fenced track leading into a path through ‘Bothenhampton’ nature reserve. Continue through to the gate onto a fenced track, becoming a lane passing houses. At a crossing, go into the shady sunken descending bridleway. At the bottom bridleway-post, cross the road and pass a bench into the ‘West Bay’ bridleway-track, becoming the old railway route. Cross an estate road into the opposite bridleway-path directly back to West Bay car park.