This attractively presented book provides the reader with a guide to around three dozen of West Dorset’s landscape gems, focusing on sites that are largely unknown and often ignored by tourists.
There is an emphasis on the sacred, both in a Christian and Pagan context, but while the book is dedicated to the late John Michell, it is, thankfully, generally free of the wackier excesses of the ‘earth mysteries’ brigade. Instead, the author concentrates on the history and folklore of the sites, which include standing stones, holy wells, ancient chapels, hill-forts, and Dorset’s only surviving medieval labyrinth, the Miz Maze near Leigh.
Each chapter is accompanied by clear instructions which include grid references, parking places, and, importantly, local hostelries, making it an ideal glove-compartment accessory for anyone holidaying in this beautiful district – or for that matter, locals like myself who enjoy an occasional day out in the countryside.
The photographs which accompany each chapter are particularly fine and well reproduced in full colour, but lack captions, which is occasionally annoying where the location cannot be discerned from the image alone. The author also includes several of her own illustrations, which reveal her to be an accomplished watercolourist.
A most attractive guidebook, and highly recommended.
Secret Places of West Dorset by Louise Hodgson
Roving Press £12.95, www.rovingpress.co.uk