TV chef Valentine Warner on walking up the hill at Golden Cap, with its views of the Jurassic Coast, and how beach fishing clears the mind. Words: Alex Reece
When I’m down in Dorset, where I grew up around Broadwindsor, I inevitably race up Golden Cap within a day of arriving. I’m as happy to be there in the pouring rain, with my hair parted at the front of my forehead and wet trousers, as I am to be there on a really lovely, bright, clear day.
It’s not exactly the most strenuous walk that you can take, but from the top of Golden Cap you can see all of the coastline down towards Lyme Regis in one direction and then you’ve got Portland Bill and Chesil Beach stretching out in the other.
There are little pockets where I’ve successfully found a lot of mushrooms – field blewits and stuff – which I take home and have on toast. But then that last bit of climbing up the hill through that tiny shelter belt of woodland, you get a real ache in your calf (but you kind of feel you’ve done a little bit of work), and then on the top I just find it a very, very peaceful place.
There’s something about that part of the country – those egg-shaped hills and lots of woods and streams – it seems a place that keeps modern life out a little bit more than other counties can.
I’m mad about fishing, and in the summer in Dorset, you can catch a lot of mackerel very close in off the beach. So quite often I’ll sit there with a little burner going, and cook some mackerel. I like stony beaches and I feel all the junk getting out of my mind. All the bad thoughts leave my head and get whisked off by the wind, out to sea. In such places, I revert back to simpler, analogue times – away from the digital hell that I’m not built for.
In London I’m heading west slowly, back to my roots. I’ve moved from Portobello Road, now I’ve made it as far as Acton Town. So if I keep on going this way, I should get to Dorset in the next few years! I make gin but I love drinking cider. It’s where my heart is.
Find out more about Hepple Gin, co-created by Valentine Warner, by visiting moorlandspirit.co