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Marshwood Vale

A bright day near the start of September gives ideal weather conditions for a 50km cycle-ride around the Marshwood Vale, located in the western part of the county. Drained by the River Char this wide and very flat, bowl shaped vale makes for easy cycling, unless one attempts to ascend the hills around the periphery – of which Pilsdon Pen, the highest at 277m is also the highest point in the county.

The Vale itself is mostly pasture, with scattered hamlets and farmsteads linked by narrow, winding lanes. The one village in the Vale – Whitchurch Canonicorum – is situated on the southern edge. Around the periphery and overlooking the Vale are to be found three Iron Age hillforts, each located on the flat summit of one of the Upper Greensand hillocks – Lambert's Castle, Coney's Castle and Pilsdon Pen.

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The circular cycle route started and ended at Bridport – the market town for the region – passing Pymore and Broadoak en-route to Pilson Pen. Following the descent off Pilsdon Pen is a climb to Lambert's Castle and a descent once more to Whitchurch Canonicorum, before finally returning to the start via the attractive villages of North Chideock and Symondsbury.


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In the top row of pictures:

  • Descending into the vale near Dottery, the view westwards, Atrim in the foreground, Lambert's Castle in the far distance (picture)
  • In the vale dwellings are dotted sparsely along the narrow lanes (picture)
  • The view eastwards from Pilsdon Pen (277m) Broadwindsor in the distance (picture)
  • On the slopes of Pilsdon Pen (picture)
  • The Marshwood Vale, broad and open. Bridport lies hidden amongst the hills in the far distance on the right (picture)

In the bottom row of pictures:

  • Beneath the summit of Lambert's Castle, looking eastwards past Marshwood, Pilsdon Pen behind, the wooded Lewesdon Hill beyond (picture)
  • Church of St Candida, Whitchurch Canonicorum, principally 13th century, has been described as '... one of the most impressive parish churches in Dorset' (picture)
  • Cottage, Whitchurch Canonicorum (picture)
  • Cottage, Whitchurch Canonicorum (picture)
  • At the top of Hell Lane, between North Chideock and Symondsbury, cattle ruminate and enjoy (surely they must?) the view across the vale (picture)

Nearby locations that also feature in galleries on this site:

directionBeaminster, Bridport

directionGolden Cap, Lyme Regis

More views of Dorset in September

Other sites on the web

The Dorset Page:   Whitchurch Canonicorum – local information and links to further resources on the web

Maps of the area on streetmap.co.uk:   1:50,000 – detail, 1:250,000 – locality and route to get there

picture resolution
The pictures of Marshwood Vale in this gallery were captured at high resolution.
This is images of dorset stock photography gallery 005
All photographs copyright © 1998–2003 John Allen

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