Blue Bridge

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DESPITE the bitterly cold grey day, there’s more than a splash of the pre-Raphaelite in Dorchester’s palette.

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At Blue Bridge, an obsolete lock gate’s lost under sprawling ivy. Watercress prettily chokes the Frome. Dreamily, a woman with copper hair pushes a pram. Benches bear brass plaques in memoriam to those who loved here. We muse over Hangman’s Cottage, surely a throwback to the Bloody Assizes.

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Silver catkins bend to lap up chalk river eddies. Emerald-headed mallards paddle handsomely past clumps of daffodils.

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This being ‘the county town’, garden accessories tend to the ambitious. We spot a miniature shepherd’s hut, a beehive and a dovecote. These waterside homes are gracious, stately.

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The shabbier front doors of Frome Terrace make me smile. I’m remembering being a Dorset Echo reporter, chronicling local worthies’ indignance over Allotment Wars and Travellers’ Filth.

The Riverside Reserve path loops unspectacularly past eccentric wetlands and floodplain meadows.

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In Dorchester, you’re never far from the countryside. The thought spirits me back to teenage trysts of twenty years ago. You’re never far from the madding crowd, either – I’m joined by a newspaper girl, elderly couples and fellow dog walkers all ambling down this Roman Town Walk. It’s good to be back.

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