Zig Zag Hill, Dorset, UK

This Great Road was featured in issue 63 of Total 911.

Dorset is one of only a few counties in the UK devoid of motorways. This means that many of its arterial routes are clogged with holidaymakers and the rather tardy locals.

Away from the more major roads, farming machinery is a regular fixture on the county’s country lanes. However, when you find a deserted stretch of road (which you invariably will) Dorset can provide some of the best driving roads in the country.

In this edition, we have travelled to the northern edge of the county, just outside the small market town of Shaftesbury. Here, on the border with Wiltshire, is what was once named ‘Britain’s twistiest road’.

The name, Zig Zag Hill, does little to belie this claim. Starting from the village of Cann Common, this section of the B3081 quickly climbs upward through a narrow left-hand bend. Drivers of more modern, wider 911s should take heed of the kerb on the inside.

From here it is a quick chute to the first of four hairpin bends. Did we fail to mention, this Dorset road has delusions of grandeur? Zig Zag Hill is like a concentrated hit of Alpine driving. It lasts for just one mile, but one could be forgiven for believing they are ascending Col de Turini.

In winter, sight lines up the hill are reasonable at the first hairpin, allowing a ‘racing’ line to be taken. However, if climbing up to Win Green in the summer, the foliage makes cutting the road an altogether riskier prospect.

Using the hill, braking can be left late for the first two hairpins, the second of which includes a quick right-left-right shimmy upon the exit. On the way down, this section feels incredibly challenging, with gravity doing a sterling job of maintaining your car’s momentum.

LOCATION: Shaftesbury, Dorset

LATITUDE: 50:59.175N/2:09.378W

LENGTH OF DRIVE: 1 mile

POINTS OF INTEREST:
Stonehenge,
Gold Hill, Shaftesbury
Salisbury Cathedral.

FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION:
The Cathedral Hotel, Milford Street, Salisbury
www.cathedralhotelsalisbury.co.uk

The Lamb Inn, Hindon
www.lambathindon.co.uk

Ascending through this natural chicane however, provides you with a great chance to use the torque of your 911’s engine. You can really feel the engine working against the roads upward slope.

The penultimate hairpin – a right-hander – is almost a mirror image of the first corner experienced just over half a mile ago. Through the autumn, this bend often is covered in leafs, leaving the all important traction zone of the exit especially slippery.

Once again, the following straight is only briefly a thought as the final switchback looms large in the windscreen. This final bend, although not as tight as the previous three, is toughest of them all.

The braking zone is almost flat, requiring more braking effort to slow the car down, and a combination of gravel and adverse camber wills the car to head of the other side of the road.

The best idea for this turn then, is to take a steady entry before picking the throttle up firmly through the mid-phase of the corner.

As you shoot out of the final hairpin, the scenery takes a complete turn. Gone are the trees that have shrouded you for the last few minutes, and now the valley that you have just climbed out of becomes apparent.

The bends at the top are faster, sweeping affair. However, the adverse camber remains, willing the unwary to take a tumble down the steep hillside; only a small wire fence denotes the transition from tarmac to turf.

Up here, the 911 can have its legs stretched, especially heading downhill into the long, incredibly fast left hand sweep. However, carry too much speed round hear and you will leave yourself with a challenge setting the car up for the double-apex right hander that follows.

After this, the road ‘straightens’ out for a bit. Despite this, the route through to Tollard Royal is still worth your time. But, it will fail to match the feelings experienced by those few Alp-like hairpins.

On the lower slopes, it’s unlikely you will travel much faster than 40mph. But, with ample chances to test out your Porsche’s powerful brakes, this Dorset road proves that speed isn’t always the key to a Great Road.

 



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Comments (2)

  • Steve buchan

    At the start of this article it says Dorset is one of two counties devoid of motorways. What about Norfolk, Suffolk and Cornwall. That’s three more.

  • Josh Barnett

    Well spotted with Norfolk/Suffolk. Now amended.