Theme for the Week – Dorset Hills with a View Part 1


A strange title you might think since all hills presumably have a view, but these are some of Dorset’s best known hills and I thought I would feature them as my theme for this week.

You might think that hills are something straightforward but they are not, as we shall see. For instance, we might start by asking the question, ‘When is a hill not a hill?’ Well, perhaps when it is a mountain, or maybe a hillock, or maybe a………. Well, you get my drift.

Anyway, to get us going, I thought we could take a trip to Bulbarrow Hill, and just for a change, I thought we could make the trip in winter as well as summer.

Bulbarrow Hill

Rosebay Willowherb on Bulbarrow

Bulbarrow Hill is arguably not technically a hill as it is actually a part of the Dorset Downs escarpment. It stands west of Blandford Forum and rises to 274 meters (899 feet) high. The hill overlooks the flatter land of the Blackmore Vale and therefore has some beautiful views.

Although this is a very popular and well known viewpoint, it is not one of my favourites. This is because there is a road that runs along the top – I prefer my hills to be more wild and remote. Also, in some ways, you appreciate a view more if you have had to work for it 🙂 !

The Road over Bulbarrow

So, back to my question, ‘When is a hill not a hill?’ Well the answer could be, ‘When it is a mountain’. There are some differing views on when hills become mountains and it will depend on whether you are considering its pure height above sea level, its height compared to its surroundings, its steepness, spacing, cragginess, etc etc. These have all been used at times to define mountains.

The Oxford English dictionary gives one definition as, ‘a natural elevation of the earth surface rising more or less abruptly from the surrounding level and attaining an altitude which, relatively to the adjacent elevation, is impressive or notable’. Generally, in the UK (it gets way too complex if you look at UN international definitions!) a mountain is recognised by hill walkers as being over 2,000 feet (the Government suggests 600 meters but hey, who’s counting). On this basis there are no mountains in Dorset. Scotland, however, by this definition has lots of mountains although a lot of them bear the title of ‘hills’. Its definitely not an exact science 🙂 !

Bulbarrow view
Bulbarrow in Winter

At the other end of the scale it becomes even more difficult as there are no real definitions for Hillocks or Knolls – they are just small hills with an undefined height 🙂 ! And names and categories, now that’s another thing……but we will leave that subject for a later post.

Dorset is full of hills of the rolling variety rather than the craggy and Bulbarrow is one of the best known, and probably loved by most people. In truth, it is a beautiful area to walk and I do so frequently by climbing it on foot despite there being a road 🙂 !

Thanks for stopping by.

Until tomorrow,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.


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