Day: May 5, 2012

My Travels – South West of England

Creating a lifestyle takes a lot of work at the beginning but if it’s something you really want to do, and it makes your life complete, then surely it must be worth doing. For some, creating a new lifestyle may be finding more time to read and learn. For others it might be fishing or boating, gardening, surfing and even climbing mountains. Mine is travel and all its offshoots like trying new foods, cooking, searching through antique  and op shops for that special something.

This year, having sold my business, I took the opportunity with my wife to spend six months wandering around the UK and Europe.

We began our roaming in the South West of England, starting in Devon and dipping here and there into Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset, before moving north.

Devon and Cornwall have some of the most  beautiful rolling countryside in the world, steeped in history with many buildings dating back 500 and, in some cases, up to a 1000 or more years.

Plymouth, with a population 256,000, boasts the ninth largest university in the UK with 30,000 students and a staff of nearly 3000. During the second world war, Plymouth City was subjected to intense bombing campaigns by German night raiders intent on destroying the famous Devonport naval dockyard which, even today, is still one of the largest in Western Europe. Notably, Plymouth was the point from which the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for America on September 6th 1620. The city is also noted for the Royal Albert Bridge, built in 1859 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
The Devonport dockyard at its peak employed over 10,000 people and is still a major Plymouth employer.

barbican The Barbican. Plymouth city’s historic heart. In this relatively small area visitors can view the 16th century Merchant’s House Museum, the Elizabethan House and the Mayflower Steps – symbolic leaving point of the Pilgrim Fathers for the New World. The Old Fish Market is now home to the Barbican Glassworks. Also nearby is the famous Plymouth Gin Distillery.

Sir Frances Drake

Sir Frances Drake on Plymouth Hoe

Vice Admiral Sir Frances Drake, seen here on the left (1540 – 27 January 1596) was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician to Elizabeth 1st. It’s said that when the Spanish Armada was sighted coming up the English channel, he was playing bowls on the Plymouth Hoe and insisted on finishing his game before engaging with the Spaniards.

Old English Pub

Old English Pub in Cornwell

Pubs across England
A particularly popular tourism interest across England is to visit as many of the old pubs as possible. The charm and atmosphere of many of these places is an experience to be found nowhere else on such a scale.
One such pub, The Williams, at Braunton near Ilfracombe in North Devon, was built in 1650 and was originally a farmhouse. Today it is listed as one of the top 100 pubs in the UK.

A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain,[1][2] Ireland,[3] Australia[4] and New Zealand. There were approximately 53,500 public houses in 2009 in the United Kingdom but this number has been declining since so that nearly half of the smaller villages no longer have their own local pub.[6] This is unfortunate as, especially in villages, the pub is often the focal point of the community. The writings of Samuel Pepys describe the `Pub’ as the heart of England.

Oh, I do Like to be Beside the Seaside...

Situated on the North Devon coastline, the town of Ilfracombe, is a Victorian resort with real seaside flavour. It has a cinema and a theatre for local and national events and, in the summer, their Victorian pageant is a popular drawcard as is the town’s own paddle steamer, operating from the harbour.

Plenty of hotels and guest houses dot the town landscape but, as Ilfracombe is a particularly popular and busy summer destination for tourists, it pays to book ahead. Other places to stay can be found on the main road towards Combe Martin and Barnstaple.
If you are planning on visiting the South West, Ilfracombe is a must-visit, full of interesting and attractive places to see. things to do, and lovely mouth-watering things to eat. A great time to visit if crowds aren’t your thing are Spring and early Summer. Also a must to visit is Padstow on the North coast of Cornwall. Go there, you won’t regret it.

Historic Tintagel

The village and nearby Tintagel Castle are associated with the legends surrounding King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. The village has, in recent times, become particularly attractive to tourists and day-trippers  from all parts of the world and, today, is one of the most-visited places in Britain.
Visit King Arthur’s Inn situated on the main road in Tinagel.

Many of the country roads in Devon and Cornwall are too narrow for two way traffic with just a few wider areas to pass oncoming vehicles.

The photo you see here is the narrowest of roads with no possible way of passing. It’s here you may have to reverse some distance before letting an oncoming vehicle pass. Best to keep off these roads from July through to September.

If travelling on these B roads (minor), best time is April/ May, you will see some of the most breathtaking countryside that Springtime has to offer.

In this lifestyle blog I’ve only mentioned a few of the fantastic places to visit. I shall cover more in a later post.

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