Batcombe in the heart of Dorset is a hamlet of farms, cottages, and a tiny medieval church with a fine stone screen. It is also the name of the long hill that rises steeply above it, which we see from our house. This is green Hardy country. The sinister ‘Cross in Hand’ mentioned in Tess is still there, a small battered stone pillar by the roadside now protected by a neat council fence. The fields have mostly been cleared of flints, on the surface at least. There are three trig points across the length of the hill. The advantage of Trigs is that their tendency to be on high ground often goes with nice countryside and scenery.  The middle one on Batcombe is a perfect focus for an easy country walk with huge views in 3 directions, especially south towards Hardy’s Monument and the coast. Time to explore.Batcombe Map 1 jpg Batcombe Map 2 jpg


Batcombe Trig Point walk 4Batcombe Trig Point walk 3Batcombe Trig Point walk 2Batcombe Trig Point walk 1

Looking back towards the Trig Point down the ‘tractor avenue’Batcombe Trig Point walk 5Batcombe Trig Point walk 6Batcombe Trig Point walk 7

This was one of the few sunny days in February and the ground was firm and dry despite the appalling rain that had flooded the lower land and swathes of the Dorset valleys, e.g. those of the Yeo, Frome and Stour. Every 20 metres or so we put up snipe that were invisible amid the stubble and stones on the ground. We were accompanied throughout by a throng of skylarks. These were annoyingly hard to photograph  both on the ground (hard to see) and in the air. Here’s an effort.Batcombe Trig Point walk 8

Some fields were very flinty, with some surprisingly large chunks. Despite the sunshine, it was easy to image poor Tess (or any other Hardy tragic heroine) shivering out in these fields in terrible winter winds and sleet, clad only in a thin kirtlet and shawl, picking the stones bare-handed and putting them in the thracking stoop for transportation as building material to the expanding Casterbridge.Batcombe Trig Point walk 9Batcombe Trig Point walk 10Batcombe Trig Point walk 11Batcombe Trig Point walk 12


  1. I used to like to try and crack the flints as a child as sometimes you would find a crystal geode inside. It’s a better shot of a skylark than I have ever managed. Beautiful singer but very evasive.


  2. I hope you weren’t being made to work the fields as a lass! I remember the smell of striking 2 madeleines… er, flints… together to create sparks! Took quite a few lark pictures. Some wonderful shapes of larks in flight, but made the usual mistake of using too much zoom I think. RH


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