The Lyme Maze Game

Daedalus escapes the maze


Universal Workshop



This lane slides diagonally down the hill for quite a way, but doesn't reach the bottom of Rocombe Bottom, as the valley is called. Instead it angles left so as to run horizontally along the side of the hill. Roughly horizontally, that is: being an English lane, it rambles quite a bit in all dimensions. But in sum it is horizontal, a gallery lying half way down the hillside. It lies along the contour of junction between the steeper upper slopes, clad in trees, and the fields on the lower slope.

It's one of the most varied and attractive of lanes, twisting close past cottages whose masonry and gates and gardens and sculptured hedges relate to it in kinky ways. These cottages constitute, presumably, the elongated hamlet of Rocombe. The lane isn't easy to bicycle at speed, because, used by little traffic, it reverts toward nature: resurfaced, it soon redeveloped its centre moraine of mud and grass and pebbles, and in the dense shadows of the trees you can hit a stick or stone.

One of the establishments on the left is a Christmas-tree farm, another is an extensive garden called The Moorings, both reaching up to Springhead Road along the top of the hill, where their front entrances are. (The Moorings was three rough grazing fields when Mr. and Mrs. Marriage bought it in 1961 and began planting it with twenty species of eucalyptus, ten of pine, ten of cypress, and much else, and seaming it with a net of diagonal paths. For opening this garden for charity twice a year for twenty years, Mrs. Marriage in 2005 received from the National Garden Scheme an engraved trowel.)

Between the trees and cottages you get glimpses of the parallel hill on the other side of the valley, called Knoll Hill. It shows very clearly the characteristic profile of around here: the flat top (with field running along to its end), the steep upper drop (emphasized in this case by a collar of gorse), the less steep lower slope. And glimpses of a small city on the flank of the valley below Knoll Hill (actually the houses and barns of Carswell Farm). And at a certain point there comes into sight something more distant and amazing, ahead to the right and up another valley: Cannington Viaduct. It was on noticing this that I thought: it would be nice to emulate Hokusai's "Hundred Views of Fuji" by sketching a hundred (or maybe a dozen) views of Cannington Viaduct, and another series of distant views of Golden Cap, from unexpected points around this countryside.

Rocombe Lane ends with a sudden hook left and up, to slip into the side of another lane.

In fact this is the same Springhead Road from which it parted almost a mile back. While Rocombe Lane first dived half way down the hillside, then ran along it, Springhead Road ran level to the tip of the hill, and is now doing its diving. I find this a delightful corner—it gets the Second Prize for Lane Junctions (after a crossroads near Monkton Wyld, which is not so much pretty as dramatic). On the corner is a bench for enjoyers of the view over the valley in which Uplyme lies.

You don't want to go back up the hill with the Springhead Road, so you let it take you steeply down. Half way, the slope eases just a bit, and three quarters of the way down you come to a crossroads, where you can go left, ahead, or right.