Dorset walk around Seatown and Golden Cap
PUBLISHED: 15:37 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:37 17 July 2017
Edward Griffiths admires sensational views from the highest point on the south coast before exploring a medieval fishing and farming hamlet
Apart from the stunning Jurassic Coast views on this walk, the inland excursion visits Morcombelake and Chardown Hill before descending to the medieval fishing and farming hamlet of Stanton St Gabriel. In the 18th century, the little 13th century chapel of St Gabriel was used by smugglers to store their contraband. In 2012 a team of National Trust Archaeologists excavated three barrows on edge of Golden Cap before they disappeared down the crumbling cliffs. These proved to be early Bronze Age.
• Distance: 5¼ miles (8.5 km)
• Time: 5 hours
• Exertion: Quite strenuous. Total ascents 1054ft. Some mud after rain.
• Start: Seatown, park in Pay Car Park (Grid Ref: SY421917)
• Map: OS Landranger Sheet 193
• Public Transport: First 31, X31 and X53 stop in Morcombelake in Point 2
• Dogs: On leads in fields with livestock and on roads
• Refreshments: The national award-winning Anchor Inn at Seatown for lunches and bar meals
1. Walk back up Sea Hill Lane passing the right Caravan Park turning and the left ‘Coast Path’ stile where you’ll emerge later. In 200 yards, take the left hedged rising track signed ‘Langdon Hill’. Follow this uphill for one mile, passing a track coming down as you bend right. If anywhere will be muddy, it will after this bend. Higher still, there are super views to Quarry Hill at a right footpath gateway. After National Trust’s Langdon Hill car park, continue to Muddyford Lane T-junction. Through the facing footpath-gate/kissing-gate, signed ‘MLake ½’, follow the right fence to the gate/half-gate with super views to East Devon.
2. Through, cross the sloping field to the footpath-gate (not the higher NT half-gate). Through, follow the right trees to the corner gate into a short hedged path leading to a footpath-post and field. Keep left round to a footpath-stile onto a lane. Walk up past houses and behind Moores Bakery to Morcombelake A35. Go left, passing the left church, Shedbush Lane and Post Office. In ¼ mile, opposite Artwave Art Gallery, turn left into Ship Knapp. Up this quieter hedged lane, pass several cottages, some with fine views. In ¼ mile, at Greenlands Farm and Grandview Farm entrances, take the left-fork bridleway-signed gate onto the rising track with increasingly impressive views. Over the top, past a left gate, slowly descend the hedged grass path to a bridleway-gate into a fenced rising track with Chardown Hill’s flanks left. Pass gates and continue up the track to the top pine clump.
3. Through the gates into Stonebarrow parking area, turn sharp left to bridleway-gates onto Chardown Hill, signed ‘St Gabriel’s and Golden Cap’. Follow the grass track downhill, aiming for Golden Cap, then becoming cherty underfoot, bending left through a stile/gate and swinging right below Chardown Hill’s ‘arena’. Through the far gate, follow the bracken and tree-edged track to another bridleway arrow-posted gate signed straight on ‘1 St Gabriel’s’. Through, ascend the banked track to a bridleway-crossing. Take the right stile, near a gate, for ‘Coast Path ¼’. Follow the field ridge above the right valley into the left hedged track down to a gate/stile. Over, in 100 yards, reaching a footpaths’ T-junction, go left. Through the bridleway-gate/stile, cross the field and follow the right hedge with Langdon Woods and Golden Cap ahead. About 100 yards before the field ends, take the right hedge’s half-gate and steps.
4. Then, follow the grass path down the field to another half-gate. Through, keep on down to a fenced half-gate. Through, cross the right corner to another half-gate and continue down to the next half-gate - but don’t go through. Turn left, signed ‘St Gabriel’s’, to the corner gate, then to a gate/stile and through a narrow field, becoming a track again past the left thatched cottage. Over a stream-bridge, continue up the track to a gate into an open area in front of thatched St Gabriel’s Manor House. Keep to the track, passing information board and three-way bridleway pointer. Through the top bridleway-gate/stile, follow the track to St Gabriel’s Chapel. Past here, continue to the gate. Through, fork right, signed ‘Golden Cap’, up the steep field aiming for the ‘Golden Cap ¼’ sign-post and kissing-gate. Up the endless steps, stopping frequently to admire the views beyond Lyme Regis, reach the 621ft (191m) summit of Golden Cap.
5. Pass the Earl of Antrim’s stone on the wider track heading east. From the O.S. trig point, go down the steps, soon facing Langdon Wood, to the 3-way signpost ‘Seatown’. Through the kissing-gate, turn right down the right hedge to another kissing-gate. Through, continue down the steep field by the right fence and through bushes into the next long field. Continue down to the next kissing-gate with a three-way pointer. Continue down the ‘Seatown ¾’ path. In a few yards, pass another three-way pointer by a bench. Continue down the path and bend into trees. Through, cross the lower side of the field into the hedged path down to the ‘Coast Path’ signed stile onto Sea Hill Lane. Turn right back down into Seatown where you started.
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