Country diary: Hardy’s sheep are still here on Colmer’s Hill

Country diary: Hardy’s sheep are still here on Colmer’s Hill

Symondsbury, Dorset: The number of trees at the summit always surprises me. They are actually too numerous to count

The low, green hills around Bridport enclose the town so closely that, as Thomas Hardy observed, “The shepherd on the east hill could shout out lambing intelligence to the shepherd on the west hill, over the intervening town chimneys.”

Stand by the town hall looking down West Street, and one hillock in particular draws the eye. The sandstone cone of Colmer’s Hill rises in the mid-distance, shawled in bracken and topped with a clump of pine trees, like sprigs of holly on a Christmas pudding. Over the years, it has become the town’s unofficial emblem, reproduced on everything from jam pots to websites. Named after the Rev John Colmer, a 19th-century landowner, the landmark is about a mile outside Bridport in the small, golden-stone village of Symondsbury.

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