We have just spent a week on the road in Devon and Cornwall as we use our remaining time in Britain to do what travelling we can. As with many parts of the country, even though I “knew” of it, in the sense of knowing many of the place names, I had either not actually been to them or had visited many years ago. In this case I knew that I had spent some holidays down in Devon and Cornwall as a child and stayed in rented caravans although I had a clear memory of us having taken the Heron sailing dinghy on one holiday and sailed it in a bay that had an island in it that could be reached at low tide by a causeway. My memory was that we had sailed in winds that were really much too strong. The boat had even “capsized” on the beach before we could even get it launched into the water the wind was so strong. Despite that we still managed to sail for a while before retreating to the safety of the shore. One of the features of our current travels were the same strong and very chilly winds that we encountered whenever we were near the coast – which was a lot of the time.
When we do these trips we generally have a rough itinerary sketched out comprising towns or villages we think will be interesting and whatever National Trust properties that are on the way and a booking for a hotel or B&B for the first night at least. Once underway our approach is then to book the next two nights accommodation ahead using online booking sites based on our estimates of time required to visit places and travel between them. This can get a little tricky at times but by and large things work out. On this trip we had only one dud hotel – a pub actually – which we politely declined on seeing the room and we were able to re-book an alternative online immediately which turned out to be very good.
The first day didn’t start too well owing to my getting a bit confused by the TomTom SatNav which kept offering shorter route options once we had already chosen an “alternative” route leading to me following one that had us negotiating the southern suburbs of Bristol and heading into the centre of Dartmoor instead of along the north edge near the coast. Eventually we got back on track arriving in Combe Martin, whose small beach is shown below, the first of a number of coastal towns that were a feature of our journey. These varied enormously and our impressions were, I think, quite strongly influenced by the weather, that is, whether it was sunny or overcast, cold or warm or wet or windy or both. Places that seemed very dismal in cloud cover probably look quite charming in bright sunshine. On this occasion it was overcast and trying to rain. Fortunately we found a very nice little café and art gallery run by a woman who had lived and taught in Italy and was now back in Britain on a new phase in her life.
Coming up will be, I hope, a series of posts on our trip based on some themes that emerged rather than a chronological tale of events.