Symondsbury Bike ride

  • Distance – 7 miles
  • Duration – 2 hours.
  • Exertion – Hard
  • Terrain – Path, track and road.
  • Dogs – Be aware of livestock and keep to the countryside code.
  • Map – OS Explorer 116 Lyme Regis and Bridport
  • Start – Colmers Estate car park Symondsbury
  • Refreshments – None on route

Parking in the Colmer’s Estate car park join back onto the road, turn right and past the church. Join onto a track to immediately start the climb up the hill, skimming Bridport’s famous Colmer’s Hill.

The reason for this ride was to follow and investigate the Holloways. These are ancient roads across the land that have eroded down into the Greensand, creating deep paths, cocooned by their own verges. As soon as you leave the village you enter into a tunnel of trees, bordered by high banks. It feels like an underground world. Roots are exposed, animal tunnels pop open on to the path. It is like watching an ant farm but you’re the size of an ant. It is a steep climb and sometimes requires pushing, made harder by the rocky, muddy ground.

On getting to the top you enter another Holloway called Hell Lane. It very much keeps up to it’s name. It is down hill but incredibly steep and the whole path is divided into many deep ruts. The roots of trees are above you and every now and then you need to duck to avoid them. The ground can be slushy and constantly wet, regardless of the season. Other parts are hard and dry but still criss crossed with deep ruts. At the bottom it turns into a river and you need to cycle through with speed to avoid getting wet, while still keeping eyes peeled for roots to duck!

At the bottom of the hill you arrive back on a road at the village of North Chideock. To your left, over the hedge, are the remains of Chideock Castle. Once a catholic stronghold during the civil war, now nothing but ominous bumps and lumps in the landscape. Cycle straight though the village, ignore the road to the right and when the road corners carry straight on onto a bridleway that is invisible in the crops.

It is tricky to find the next path so head for the gate slightly on your left hand side and go through into the next field. Turn right and the hardest climb of the ride begins. It starts off OK as it is just a field of grass but it gets steeper and steeper. Pass through the next gate, and the gradient increases dramatically, as can the vegetation. It is a relief to reach the road at the top and the views are worth it!

Morcombelake is a welcome sight. It is downhill on a road, so smooth, sleek, and easy. When you enter into the little village of Ryall, turn right at the next crossing leading you to the next Holloway, Butts Lane. Pass an abandoned cottage and a few overgrown ruins on your left.

It begins as an easy ride, mainly downhill and on tracks, to meet a river. Ahead of you is your next uphill fight, but thankfully it is the last one. Pass through a few sweet farms to distract you as you start your climb.

Once at the top the views are again wide and stunning. This time you can see the route of your travels. Golden Cap, the highest point of the south coast, can be seen on the left.

At the top of the hill, join another bridleway and turn right. The gradient increases slowly, which makes it an easier climb to reach the top of the ridge. Make your way through the woodland and at the top the trees thin and wide views greet you once again. Now is the downhill run back to Symondsbury. The tracks are no longer as steep and the ride becomes less strenuous.

Join back to the first Holloway and turn left, giving you a different perspective than when you were travelling in the opposite direction. Heading back through the first and last Holloway’s, your eyes having grown accustomed to the rising roots, other attractions catch the eye. Scattered all over the Greensand banks are some surprising art work. Carved by modern and older hands, the banks are littered with them.

Arriving back to the village, pass the church for the second time and then left returning the same way you started to get back to your car.

A little extra… the holloways were used for a music video: Gris-de-Lin : Sprung

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