Walk - Langdon Hill and Golden Cap from Highlands End

4.0 miles (6.5 km)

Drive to Golden Cap Holiday Park - DT6 6JX Golden Cap Holiday Park

Challenging - A moderately hard walk, with some steep ascent and descent, rewarded by spectacular coastal views, and a shortcut bypassing Golden Cap for those who want a gentler stroll.

A demanding route with an optional shortcut. Both routes go through the woods on Langdon Hill, and the longer walk visits the medieval hamlet of Stanton St Gabriel, now a handful of refurbished cottages and a ruined thirteenth century chapel. The landscape spread out around Langdon Hill is criss-crossed with ancient trackways as well as fields and hedgerows from medieval times, and the traditional farming methods used on National Trust land encourage a profusion of wildlife.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Chideock House

Thatched wisteria clad house, built 1465 is full of charm and character. The dining room is oak beamed, rooms are fully equipped and we are 10 mins walk from the Coast Path.

Mervyn House

A comfortable and spacious B&B, situated in the centre of the village near the Coast Path.  Click the picture to see details and visitor comments.

Lyme Barn Holidays

Luxury one bedroom self catering accommodation only minutes from the Jurassic Coastal Path in West Dorset.

Pound Cottage

Pound Cottage is a beautiful cottage situated in the heart of the bustling village of Chideock. It sleeps up to four in two bedrooms.

Dorset Seaside Cottages

Two stylish 4* gold self catering cottages, 20 minutes walk from the beach at Seatown with numerous walks on the doorstep. Cottages equipped to a high standard.

Broadlands B&B

Friendly family run B&B. Kingsize ensuite room with bath/shower and stunning views of sea and Coast Path. Close to main bus route & pubs.

Eype's Mouth Country Hotel

Small Hotel, superb sea views, minutes to beach, Heritage coastline, Coast Path, ideal for ramblers, ornithologists, anthropologists or geologists.

Cliff Cottage B&B

A few hundred yards from the coast path, Cliff Cottage was built in the 18th Century and renovated in 2013. Shops, pubs and restaurants of West Bay are a ten-minute walk.

Tern Cottage - Dream Cottages

2-Bed Bungalow, minutes from the Path, beach & harbour. Perfectly located for enjoying the Dorset coastline

Lucerne

Comfortable and friendly B&B only a few minutes walk in to Lyme Regis. All rooms ensuite and recently upgraded. A large, tasty full English breakfast. Holiday apartment available.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

To get to the start of this walk, drive to Golden Cap Holiday Park (DT6 6JX) and park your car at the beach car park(chargeable). Or you can walk about 2 miles westwards along the South West Coast Path to Seatown. Alternatively you could catch the bus from Bridport Bus Station to Chideock Bridge and walk down Sra Hill Lane to Golden Cap Holiday Park.

  1. From Golden Cap Holiday Park, take the road northwards, towards Chideock, and turn right onto the South West Coast Path, following it across the field, through the copse, and steeply uphill through the open heathland on the seaward side of the next field.
  2. Emerging from the scrub onto open ground, fork left and carry on along the Coast Path as it crosses to the left-hand corner at the top of this open ground and starts climbing towards Golden Cap. However, if you want to avoid the steep ascent and descent going over Golden Cap, instead of taking this left-hand path you can fork right here, to walk along the hedge, turning left onto the lane beyond at 8 and then taking the path around Langdon Hill at 7 for a shorter stroll.
  3. If you are opting for the longer walk and carrying on along the Coast Path towards the top of Golden Cap, the path goes through the gap in the hedge and curves around the back of the hill before it climbs to the summit, and another path leads back to Langdon Hill. Again stay with the Coast Path as it summits and then zigzags down towards the valley.
  4. When the path forks at the end of this field, take the right-hand path and follow it downhill towards St Gabriel's Wood.

The ruins in front of you are all that remains of St Gabriel's Chapel, first recorded in 1240. The walk continues up the track to the right from here; but take the time to stroll down to Stanton St Gabriel, just a stone's throw to your left, where the handful of cottages, refurbished as holiday cottages by the National Trust, are all that now remains of the medieval hamlet.

There has been a settlement here since Saxon times, although the hamlet was not formally recorded until 1086. At that time the surrounding landscape would have been divided into a number of smallholdings, and today the area is criss-crossed with the ancient pathways, hedges and fields from those times, as well as from later centuries.

The main house of the settlement is St Gabriel's House, thought to have been the mediaeval manor house of Stanton. Although much of the brickwork is eighteenth century, the stone walling is medieval.

In 1650 there were 23 families here, who asked for St Gabriel's Chapel to be made a parish church, although nobody knows whether this happened. Certainly, by the end of the eighteenth century the chapel had fallen into disrepair, following the decline of the hamlet's population, as most of the agricultural workers left to go to Bridport and work in the rope-making industry (see the Seatown to Bridport Walk).

The death knell was sounded for the hamlet when the old coach road passing through it was diverted inland because of the sea's erosion of the cliffs around Golden Cap. After the road had gone, the remaining population drifted away too, leaving the remote and ruined chapel as the perfect storehouse for the smugglers who lugged their contraband here up the rough cliff path.

The Anchor Inn in Seatown is said to have been the stamping ground of a band of nineteenth century smugglers known as “The Chideock Gang”. Maybe the customs men based in the coastguard cottages immediately above the inn thought they were fishermen (as indeed they were – they just also happened to supplement the meagre living from this with their own particular brand of community service).

  1. From the hamlet walk back up the track past the chapel and carry on along it, turning right again just after it goes through into the next field, and from here walk uphill along the hedge, turning left at the top to follow the path to the gate at the far end.

On the Golden Cap Estate, as in its properties elsewhere, the National Trust has encouraged the use of traditional farming methods, and this helps wildlife to flourish. In the tiny streams there are amphibians like frogs, toads and newts, while on land their reptile cousins include adders and the common lizard. In the air above the streams you may catch a glimpse of a dragonfly, while the many species of wildflowers like primroses, bluebells and orchids attract butterflies and other insects. Birds in the area include the yellowhammers which bob and dip between the thorn bushes, as well as buzzards hunting overhead, and massive ravens with glossy black plumage.

  1. Going through the gate into the next field, carry straight on ahead to the gate at the top, where the path skirts the southern end of the woodland on Langdon Hill.
  2. Reaching the gate, you can either turn left before it, onto the path around the outside perimeter of the wood, or you can go through the gate and turn left on the path into the trees, turning left again when you come to the track leading around the western side of the wood. If you choose the path outside the woodland, follow it all the way around the hill, ignoring the path downhill to the left en route, and join the track as it begins to curve around the far end of the wood.

Stay on this track right the way around the hill, ignoring the turning to the left through the car park, and continue to the southern end of the wood.

  1. When you come to the path on your left as the track turns westwards again, turn left onto it and follow it down to where it meets the green lane beyond. Carry on along this lane (Pettycrate Lane), ignoring the path to the right soon afterwards.
  2. After a while, Langdon Lane joins from the left. Go on past this, until the next fork, a little way beyond. Leave Pettycrate Lane here as it heads towards Chideock, and bear right to follow this lane instead as it starts to drop downhill towards Seatown.
  3. Reaching Sea Hill Lane, just beyond Seahill House, turn right and go back down towards Seatown, to return to the Golden Cap Holiday Park on your left.

To return to Highlands End you can drive, catch the bus or walk back eastwards along the South West Coast Path.

Public transport

The Dorset First 31 bus runs regularly between Weymouth and Axminster, stopping at Chideock Bridge and Bridport Coach Station, and the X53 travels between Exeter and Poole, stopping at the same places. For details visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

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