The countryside to the east of Bridport is characterised by traditional farming villages surrounded by rolling green open countryside. It’s a popular area for those wanting to get away from it all or take a walking holiday through West Dorset’s beautiful countryside. Askerswell, Puncknowle and Swyre are three villages in the area offering a range of holiday accommodation including B&Bs, self catering cottages, caravan and camping parks and character thatched old inns with rooms.
Askerswell is a small village at the foot of the Iron Age hillfort at Eggardon Camp. There are several ramparts and ditches still evident from which there are great views south to Golden Cap and the sea. The Spyway Inn in the village is four hundred years old and has had several uses as a blacksmith’s as well as a pub. It is also reputed to be haunted. St Michael’s Church in the village retains its Norman tower. A Norman font and 15th century carved stone relief of the crucifixion also sits near the west door into the tower. Askerswell was also home to one of Dorset’s most reputed smugglers, Isaac Gulliver, who bought North Eggardon Farm. He was known to operate gangs all along Dorset’s coast up to Poole.
Puncknowle, pronounced Punnel, is just inland between Bridport and Abbotsbury. It’s set amongst some beautiful Dorset countryside excellent for rural walks and strolls down to the coast and Chesil Beach. The village is situated in the Bride Valley and is sheltered from the sea by chalk downland and The Knoll. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book and the church retains its original Norman tower arch and chancel arch. Behind the church is the 19th century manor house where Henry Shrapnel lived. He invented a fragmentation bomb used in the Crimean War – his name survives as the word describing the injurious fallout from bombs. He was also a friend of William Barnes, Dorset’s most famous dialect poet who often visited him here in Puncknowle.