The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Treasures of Dorset – Colmer’s Hill

Dan Bowstead captures West Dorset's traveller's mark

Colmer's Hill shot on Christmas Day 2014 showing its characteristic silhouette and the hillside's autumn/winter coat of russet-coloured bracken

Colmer’s Hill shot on Christmas Day 2014 showing its characteristic silhouette and the hillside’s autumn/winter coat of russet-coloured bracken (portfolio.liesthrualens.com)

At less than 400 feet, it is a comparative midget among West Dorset hills, yet Colmer’s Hill is perhaps the most recognisable of them all and inspires special affection. This is especially so among the townspeople of Bridport, where the hill is a dead-centre backdrop to the view along West Street from the Town Hall.
It is equally recognisable from any direction, as its steep slopes are not obscured by any other significant hill close by. This means, too, that there is a wonderful 360° view from the trig point on its summit.
Its appeal lies also in its pleasingly regular shape, a rounded, flattened cone, which led Bridport children to give it its alternative name of Pudding Basin Hill. Then there is its colour, especially in the autumn and winter, when the bracken-covered slopes are a blaze of gold. Finally there is the scruffy but attractive top-knot of pine trees, planted during World War 1 by the Colfox family, whose lands still include Colmer’s Hill.
The hill’s original name, Sigismund’s Berg, gave its name to the village at its foot: Symondsbury. Sigismund was a Viking chieftan who landed with a raiding party near Bridport and, like many after him, was taken with the little round hill. The present name is later, being that of Rev. John Colmer, a landowner in Symondsbury and briefly its rector in the early 19th century.

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