“SHUT the gate!” Not a farmer, but a hiker is calling as I bring up the rear in a walk led by West Dorset Ramblers.
Our guide takes us on a pleasant two-hour stroll from Bridport to Eype and back, via green meadows, sloping hills and cool, sun-dappled lanes. About ten of us meet in Buckydoo Square. We slap on factor 30, head west, cross the river and trundle through Skilling, up to Victorian cottages and secret gardens.
Tree-tunnelled paths are flanked by ferns. Mud squishes pleasantly underfoot. We catch great glimpses of Colmers Hill in all its tree-tufted, pudding basin-y glory.
Looking back, splashes of blue sea ride the horizon.
Thistledown floats by. Sheep hog the fields.
Temporarily dazzled by a bank of blazing pink hydrangea, we reach a sort of summit and gaze down, over a gate, to where West Bay sinks down towards the sea.
Homes nestle among bottle green and wheaten yellow fields. Oh – and there’s Portland!
Now we descend, towards more sheep and a lake attended by ducks and honking geese. A sign exhorts us to feed them with brown (not white) bread.
Being at the back has its advantages. All the nettles are squished by those who venture ahead, and you get fair warning of trip hazards (stiles, puddles, gates). Autumn must be round the corner: hawthorn berries ripen slowly in the late August sunshine. We’re on a permissive path, which feels vaguely thrilling.
We file past scruffy banks of nettles, skirt round the back of Bridport Leisure Centre and follow the river to Palmers Brewery, where the Asker meets the Brit. Three people in a rowing boat wave as they glide by.
A solitary lady is fishing on the banks. Now we’re behind Bridport Football Club, and saunter past playing fields. West Dorset Ramblers rock. I’ll be back.