2020 was the year of the staycation and discovering beautiful parts of the country I live in. One of those was Golden Cap, a hill and cliff which at 618ft is the highest point on England’s south coast. We could see it in the distance every day from the balcony of our apartment in Lyme Regis. So it seemed only right that we should eventually just put on our walking boots and climb on up there!
We started the walk at Seatown car park which overlooks a shingle beach and has a lovely 18th century pub perched on the cliff overlooking the sea. We followed the Golden Cap walk in the Collins Ramblers book, Short Walks in Dorset. To start it you turn right out of the car park to head back up Sea Hill Lane (the way you drive in) and go through a gap on the left to cross a field. Then you walk through woodland before heading uphill to a bench where you can look back and see your first views along the coast.
There’s a signpost here to point you in the right direction to Golden Cap, but we found it easier to have the book with us as the route back is not so obvious. The last part to reach the Ordnance Survey pillar at the top of Golden Cap is a stepped path, which makes it much easier than the walk we did from Lulworth Cove earlier in the year. We remembered hanging onto a fence to pull ourselves up at times!
Saying that, we were better prepared this time wearing hiking boots and I also had my hiking poles. My rented ones were a life-saver on our Patagonia adventures, so I put them on my birthday list and got some excellent folding ones that are easy to carry. Definitely takes the pressure off my knees, both uphill and downhill, and gives me an extra sense of security.
Golden Cap is a National Trust property that is named after its flat summit of golden sandstone. At the top is a memorial to Lord Antrim, the chairman of the trust from 1966-77. After the climb up you’ll definiely want to linger for a while to take in the stunning views. One side is the Dorset countryside and the other the Jurrasic Coast views we’d come to love on our Lulworth Cove walk. You can read more about that in one of my earlier Dorset posts.
When you can tear yourself away from the views, head down to a signpost where you bear right and walk downhill to the ruined church at Stanton St Gabriel. It’s all that’s left of what was once a thriving community. In 1650 there were 23 families living around the village green, but they moved across to Morecombelake and eventually the road was re-routed through there.
From here the route back goes uphill to Langdon Hill, before heading down again to rejoin the path to Seatown. The beach there wasn’t busy in mid-September, so we sat for a while to enjoy the views along the coast and poke our toes in the chilly water.
Then it was time for a very nice visit to the Anchor Inn. They don’t take bookings so we had to wait for a table, but as it was after 2pm we didn’t wait too long. The man looking after the Seatown car park had made it very clear to us that 1pm was a ridiculous time to go to the pub as the queue was always so long! So we had a late lunch of rose wine and excellent sandwiches sitting in a great spot overlooking the beach. Just perfect after our long walk.
On the way back to Lyme Regis we popped to Charmouth, partly because it was a favourite haunt of Jane Austen’s (who is one of my favourites), but also to see the views back to Golden Cap. Looking at it we were pretty impressed we’d walk to the top! Charmouth beach was a bit busier than Seatown and has a Heritage Coast Centre which was closed by the time we go there, but looked worth a visit.
But as mentioned at the start, we also had a view of Golden Cap from our brilliant penthouse apartment in Lyme Regis. So on the last night before we left we sat on our balcony with a cocktail and watched the sun go down over it. Then I got my long lens out to capture one last memory of the stunning Golden Cap.
For more staycation ideas visit the UK section of my blog and check back soon for a new post about lovely Lyme Regis.