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Dorset walk – Morcombelake and Langdon Hill

Teresa Rabbetts on a highly customisable walk in the west

Looking back at Morcombelake

Looking back at Morcombelake

For a good proportion of each day the roar of the A35 dominates Morcombelake, cutting through the hamlet, particularly during the summer season as it transports tourists flocking to the West Country; the traffic rushing past seems to have very little effect on the hamlet itself; it is a small Dorset community that appears to be overlooked, remaining largely un-documented, a place that people pass through rather than somewhere to stop.

Home of the Dorset knob, a Dorset institution

Home of the Dorset knob, a Dorset institution

Four miles west of Bridport and looking out towards the sea, the community of Morcombelake sits under Hardown Hill. If you’ve heard of the place at all then it will be for the Moore’s Biscuit Bakery. For most of the year the small company produces biscuits for the holiday and seasonal market, but during the post-Christmas period, when demand for sweet and luxury goods is overtaken by New Year healthy eating resolutions, the company produce Dorset knobs. It is believed that these strange hard nugget biscuits were named for their resemblance to the Dorset knob button, they were soaked in tea and eaten by farm workers; there were once a number of producers of this unique savoury biscuit and a similar product called the Double Bake was made in Devon, but Moore’s are now the last company to manufacture them commercially, this may have something to do with the fact that their production is quite labour and time intensive, not only are the biscuits rolled and pinched by hand but they are then baked three times making a total production time of six hours.
Samuel Moore (born 1854) was the second of four sons of a baker; all four sons became bakers who established separate bakery rounds with boundaries between them. In 1879 Samuel leased East View Cottage in Morcombelake and from here he began and gradually expanded his own successful bakery business. He was reputed to be a religious man and he married Frances who had been the governess at the vicarage; they went on to have six children who were apparently brought up in East Cottage with ‘an iron discipline’!

❱ A more unusual view of Golden Cap than the more traditional shot from the sea

A more unusual view of Golden Cap than the more traditional shot from the sea

Over the years Samuel established himself in Morcombelake, first by purchasing East View Cottage and then by buying small pockets of adjoining land which included stables, outbuildings, garden and then another cottage and stables known as the Bottom, all the while the bakery business grew. By the post World War 1 period he employed 13 bakers and by the 1920s that number had grown to 16, now including a woman, Abigail Larcombe, who was employed for her particular skill in “producing light sponge cakes”. During this period production was modernised and new coke-fired steam tube ovens were installed so that Moore’s bakery could maintain a constant stream of deliveries to Bridport and Lyme Regis. By 1924, as the business moved into a more modern age, Samuel retired leaving his sons Reginald and Donald to take over. Today Moore’s Biscuit Bakery remains in the hands of Samuel’s descendants, although now the principal production is of a range of sweet biscuits.

A tree-lined path along the route

A tree-lined path along the route

Near to Moore’s Bakery is Felicity’s Farm Shop which has occupied the site of a former garage in Morcombelake since 2010. Felicity Perkin and her family set up this colourful business to showcase a wide array of Dorset food produce as well as gifts and garden accessories. In addition to shopping, the Farm Shop has become a popular spot for passing motorist to park up and enjoy one of Dorset’s most spectacular views looking towards Golden Cap whilst sampling goods from the excellent selection of takeaway goods which can be purchased from the Filling Station café situated inside the Farm Shop.

THE WALK
1 Park in the lay-by by Moore’s Bakery. Walk down the lane at the end and behind the bakery buildings. Follow the lane downhill past Wanehouse Farm buildings (the path takes a little dog-leg route north of the buildings) and then the route remains in a valley parallel to the A35 – Felicity’s Farmshop overlooks this stretch on the left.
Pass across two fields until reaching the gateway into Muddyford Lane.

2 The route crosses Muddyford Lane into Langdon Lane, follow this tree-lined tarmac stretch until it divides and follow the right-hand route which rises uphill into Langdon Hill National Trust Car Park.

3 At the top end of the car park, past the National Trust interpretation boards, follow the Forestry Commission path which is clearly marked with way-markers. Almost from the beginning of the walk marvellous views can be enjoyed from benches which are situated at regular points around Langdon Hill – the first being a look-out to the east across the village of Chideock.

4 Here there is the optional additional spur route to Golden Cap. At the south western side of Langdon Hill, as the path emerges from the trees, there is a sign-post indicating a path towards Golden Cap; this route takes you easily to the summit and avoids the 191 metre climb from the sea-level route at Chideock.
Continue on the circular route round Langdon Hill until the path returns to the National Trust Car Park.

5 Return to Morcombelake retracing your route across Muddyford Lane and back to your car at the bakery. ◗

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