Walk - Chideock Inland Walk

5.4 miles (8.7 km)

Seatown beach car park - DT6 6JX Seatown beach car park

Moderate - Travelling along footpaths, tracks and quiet lanes, the walk also goes through open heathland and alongside tiny streams where you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of dragonflies flitting above the wildflowers.

A stroll through several centuries of fascinating history, featuring the ditches and dykes of a long-gone Norman castle, the English Civil War, and the men from Chideock who were willing to die for their faith. The route heads along a ridge high above Chideock and the surrounding pastureland, giving spectacular views over field systems unchanged since medieval times, many of them farmed according to traditional methods which encourage a proliferation 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.

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.

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.

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.

Lyme Barn Holidays

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

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

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Starting from the beach car park, walk up Sea Hill Lane to Golden Cap Holiday Park. Walk past Reception to the north easterly corner of the field, going through onto Mill Road to pick up the footpath opposite, leading through the field alongside the caravan park. Follow it to the end of the field and around the water treatment plant, to come out on a lane.
  2. Carry on here to where it meets another lane. Going over the stile on the opposite side of this lane into the field beyond, follow the waymarker pointing left towards the houses in the distance and cross the stream via the footbridge. Carry on along the hedge and then the lane on the left, to come out on the A35 road beyond.
  3. Turn right on the main road and walk about a hundred yards. Cross over and take the road opposite with fields next to it. Follow it as it bends to the right and the left around the barn, emerging on a footpath travelling uphill through the field, with the woodland on your right.
  4. At the top of the hill the path comes out on a track. Turn right on the track and and travel a short distance to pick up the footpath on your left heading leftwards (northwards) around the back of the copse ahead. This will lead you onto open heathland. Still heading almost due north, aim for the far left-hand corner of the heath, travelling downhill.
  5. Going into the trees in the corner, you come to Quarry Cross, where a path joins from the left and another from the right; while the path you want carries straight on ahead along the ridge.
  6. After about half a mile, another track joins from the right. Carry straight on past it, also ignoring the footpath dropping down into the fields on your left. With the track having joined from the right, you are now on the Monarch's Way.

The Monarch's Way is a 615-mile long-distance footpath retracing the steps of King Charles II in his flight to France after being defeated by the Parliamentarians at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. There was a reward of £1000 offered to anyone who captured the king, and the risk of summary execution for treason to anyone who helped him escape. Nonetheless, Catholics throughout the country had nearly a century's experience of aiding and abetting those who continued to practise the Catholic faith (see below), and they helped his flight through the land from Worcester to Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex, where he took a boat to France.

  1. Follow the waymarkers for the Monarch's Way as they take the next footpath on your left, a couple of hundred yards later, when you reach the V of Henwood Copse on your right. Don't follow the track straight downhill: your path pulls away to the right, exiting this field through the hedge ahead of you and curving around to the left along the hedge beyond, cutting through the trees and into the next field before it descends to the stream in the valley below. Cross the stream and go straight across the next field and left onto Venn Lane, walking past the farm entrance and on to the farm buildings ahead.
  2. Coming to Venn Farm, leave the Monarch's Way as it goes right, and instead turn left down the road and walk due south down it for about 300 yards, passing a footpath on your right, until you come to the footpath on your left, to Brighthay Farm.
  3. Take this footpath and follow it to the corner of the field diagonally opposite, carrying on in the same direction to clip the corner of the next field and make your way across the last field to the farm drive. Turn right here and follow the drive around a left-hand bend to come out on Butt Lane beyond, at the top of North Chideock.
  4. Turn left on Butt Lane and follow it as it forks right to pass through a few buildings and then turns into a track. This is the lower end of an old track known as Hell Lane.
  5. Take the second footpath on your right, turning onto it just after the last building on your right, and walk straight ahead, passing a copse on your right-hand side. Turn abruptly right on the far side of this copse and walk to the far hedge, going through it into the field beyond.
  6. Follow the left-hand hedge here, carrying on around the corner of the field and then cornering again to continue in the original direction, and then go through into the field beyond.

You are now in Ruins Field, featuring the last overgrown remnants of the fourteenth century castle destroyed some three centuries later by the Parliamentarians who were responsible for the destruction of many buildings in this part of Dorset.

Chideock Castle was built in 1380 by John de Chideoke, whose family came from Bridport. Prior to the Norman Conquest, the Chideock estate had belonged to King Alfred, but William the Conqueror seized it within two years of landing on English soil, and subsequently it was transferred to Norman Barons. Edward II granted it to de Chideoke in 1312.

Although all that remains now of the castle are earthen mounds and trenches, it was once a stately building with a commanding position over the valley below. Surrounded by a deep moat, nearly twenty feet wide and eight feet deep, the castle was supplied with fresh water from a spring which rises at the foot of Quarry Hill. During the English Civil War, when the castle stood as a Royalist stronghold, this supply of fresh water made it possible for the defenders to hold out against attack, and the Parliamentarians had to place it under siege several times before they finally took it and destroyed it, in 1645.

The cross which stands in the middle of the earthworks is a memorial to the Chideock Martyrs. The plaque beside it reads: “During the reign of Elizabeth I and Charles I five men went out from here to die for the Catholic Faith. This cross is dedicated to their memory and two other martyrs from Chideock who also died for their faith.”

During this period the Lords of the Manor continued to hold mass within the castle, along with many of the villagers, who were also devout Catholics. At that time the law forbade Catholic worship, and the five men named on the plaque were caught participating in one of these masses in 1594, and were tried and condemned to death. Although they were offered their freedom if they would renounce their Catholic faith, all refused to do that, and they were executed.

  1. Follow the path from the castle ramparts towards the houses, to go through the gate in the left-hand corner of the field and follow Ruins Lane down to the main road.
  2. Cross the road and go onto the footpath across the road, down the far right-hand side of the garden opposite. Follow the path due south between hedges, crossing the stream and coming out onto Mill Lane beyond and continuing along it, back to Seatown Beach.

Public transport

The Dorset First 31 bus runs regularly between Weymouth and Axminster, stopping at Chideock Bridge (on the route), and the X53 travels between Exeter and Weymouth, stopping at the same place. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

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