The Lyme Maze Game

Daedalus escapes the maze


Universal Workshop



This is another ancient lane, running as a gallery part way up the valley's side, though taking some more sidling steps up the slope. It is a delightful example of the English lanes that continually change width: narrow pinch-points open around curves into polygonal spaces, all tightly defined by the hedges or over-arching trees, so that it is like finding your way through a series of rooms. Down to the right—plainly seen in winter, sparingly glimpsed when the hedge and its embedded trees thicken with foliage in the summer—there are only farm fields and the woods along the course of the river.

We are in the green belt around Lyme, and environmental oversight surely won't let a lane such as this be spoiled. Haye Lane used to be even more attractive, but the earlier twentieth century allowed houses and their driveways to disrupt much of its left-hand up-slope bank. We can't, I suppose, blame the immigrants who now live in the pretty houses. I met a young doctor who delighted me further with Haye Lane by telling me he lived there and pronouncing its name in his Scots way: not hei lein but heeh wleen. (Can't really show it without proper phonetic letters: the pure long vowels, the "dark" velar l.)

A tree that's fallen into the field in winter (in summer I wouldn't have seen it through the foliage of the hedge):

A junction comes in sight—

The building rising on the corner, with pebbledash walls and tall round chimneys, is the old Black Dog inn. —Oh, we nearly forgot to say: this lane is haunted! If it happens to be evening, either don't come this way, or hurry!

The Black Dog, now a bed-and-breakfast, is the first building in the county of Devon. Notice a footpath slipping up to the left, at the edge of the Black Dog's domain (actually the view is compressed: you have to go past the footpath before the junction comes in sight). This footpath, which continues down the fields on the right, follows the Dorset-Devon boundary.

Glance into the path to the right: it passes through such a thick hedge, or rather zone of vegetation, that it takes a devious course before getting out into the field. Actually the significance of this is not so charming. I learned that developers already own the two fields between Haye Lane and the river. And intend to submit planning applications. The reason why the zone of vegetation has grown so thick, pushing the path southeastward, is that the owners have ceased trimming the hedges, perhaps as a ploy toward making the fields seem disused and therefore ripe for development. The Lyme Regis Society and other interested persons have an eye on the situation. To build on this most vital piece of Lyme's green belt would be criminal, and stupid. The town depends on its attractiveness, and its attractiveness depends on its setting.

What you come to is a busier highway. Keep on rightward. Or turn sharply left around the Black Dog's nose.