On a brief sojourn back to my home town I rediscovered a place I’d almost completely forgotten; the not-so-secret jewel of Dorset, The Square and Compass in Worth Matravers.
I remember this first from one of my school trips at about 8 or 9 years old where we went on a long walk, for those days, a round trip of about 10 miles, from where we were staying in Langton Matravers, round Dancing Ledge, through Worth Matravers and back again. This was the place that I learnt that what I called ‘a compass’ was actually a pair of compasses. Then, I was too young to sample the best that this little, but immensely popular, pub had to offer. But now I’m not.
The pub has a lot of history and is popular with locals and walkers alike but it seems to simultaneously attract all the young and trendy people in the area, not to mention a hoard of fashionable tourists. This makes for fabulous people watching in the garden, and over the garden wall at those hiking up the hill, if you’re not too busy horizon watching, and also means excellent pickings for dogs (cue one very excited Labradog named Molly). In the summer you can’t usually get a seat inside, and I’ve never tried to fight my way to the garden at the back, but the front is my favourite place and it’s full of higgledy piggledy furniture and accommodating parties willing to help everyone squeeze in. The cider I tried was a home brew variety, and gorgeous, and also the only cider I’ve ever sampled and actually liked; I know, I know, I’m not very ‘Dorset’. Be wary of this deep golden treat, it has a fantastic, almost husky taste, but is (I believe) about 9% strength. As for food it always used to be the way, and I assume it still is, that you can only get pies there- not homemade either- just bog-standard, no fuss, pub pies or crisps over the bar, and in general that’s exactly how I like my pubs to be.
The world certainly looks a fabulous colour through gently cider-tinted-spectacles and with a golden glow falling on the bouncing Dorset hills and the pub garden looks undeniably inviting as you traipse towards it, stone walls surrounding stone benches and tables as if plucked from a Knight’s castle, people lounging with cider glasses all up and down the banks of the small grassy perch on which the pub nestles. The view from the Square and Compass is certainly one of the most picturesque, cliché, Dorset images to be had. And I adore it.
P.s. The village gets pretty parked up too-watch out!