Having had the best flight yet from Sydney to London we were ready to start the journey to Dartmouth as soon as we landed. A Train to Reading after a short wait ( involving a couple of Cornish Pasties ) and then a crowded train to Exeter involving a vast array of interesting characters and we realised that after the long haul flight we really should stay in our arrival destination for a few days before tripping off on adventures. To add to this conclusion we took a taxi out to the industrial estate of Exeter to Europcar to find it closed ! But after 10 mins of mild panic and the taxi driver trying to find out what we could do, a dude turned up with our car and all was good.We were glad that this wall in England and not in France where our language skills are limited!.
It was then off in the rain for what we thought would be a leisurely drive to Dartmouth along the Scenic route of Newton Abbott and Torquay…silly us, it was Sunday afternoon in school holidays and there was lots of traffic so it took a while and a few wrong turns down narrow lanes to get to the Dartmouth Ferry and then into the Dart Marina Hotel.
On arrival, John went for his usual reconnoiter through the town to get his bearing and watched a few rowing races as part of the regatta week. The town is a classic mix of medieval through Tudor to Victorian period so a real cross section of British times.
The accommodation is very good despite the extensive journey to our room and we enjoyed a good meal in the restaurant looking out over the Dartmouth Harbour.
An early morning trip into town after breakfast saw us do a bit of wandering before taking a small boat ride down the estuary to Dartmouth castle at the head of the Harbour. It was a lovely putt putt past all the lovely waterfront homes and we felt like we were in Mosman.
The castle was really interesting and dates back to the early 14th century and has been in constant use right up until after WW2 with many incarnations as canon got bigger and bigger to ensure an effective defence against mostly those vile French across the Channel .
We chose to take the 30min walk back into town as it looked interesting and it was a lovely summers day and it was a good decision with picturesque sights all along the way.
We stopped for a crab sandwich and sausage sandwich lunch sitting next to a bunch of The Real Housewives of Dartmouth !! Very funny indeed, the inane conversations they were having were hilarious. We then wandered a bit more and checked out the very interesting local church before heading back to the hotel for a nap.
Dinner was a classic Fish & Chips at the Floating bridge Hotel right next door and we then strolled into town for a check out of the regatta entertainment and watched an 80’s cover band do a bit of post punk / new wave stuff we knew.The European summer holiday feel was all around us and it was great.
Our drive to Newquay was very picturesque along the coast through to Kingsbridge and then back inland after by passing Portsmouth . The roads varied from good to very narrow and single lane through some villages.
It was taking much longer than the 2hrs google maps said and when we saw the signs for The Eden Project we could not resist the opportunity. The only problem was that it did not say how far it was ! That ended up being a 30km detour and was it worth it, yes and no. Ann got a dose of vertigo from the heat in the hothouses, and it was not a good place for that to happen.
Amazing as it was and an incredible project I had visions of an alternative world of self sufficiency but it was more of an educational project, brilliant but similar to the Gardens at Marina in Singapore we saw 2 years ago.
We made it to Fistral beach and the Headland Hotel and Spa at Torquay and wow what a sight dominating the headland in all its Victorian glory, a real sight to be seen. After check in John went for a swim and checked out the surf and surrounds before dinner in the fancy Hotel restaurant followed by drinks on the deck watching the sunset. The hotel was built in 1900 and has been a holiday destination for generations of the Brits. It had a real familiarity to it for some reason and when we found out that it was use for the movie Witches from Roald Dahl’s book the reason became clear.
Having watched the movie so many times it was great reliving scenes. We’re looking forward to a rewatch of it on our return home.
John went off for a morning wander to discover Newquay after breakfast and then took Ann in for lunch and Cornish cream tea, (making sure not to ask for a Devonshire Tea, which is only served in Devon ! funny how they are the same jam & cream scones and tea.), we then had a nice stroll around town with all the other tourists and then a beach walk where John hired a surfboard for the next morning’s surf.
We stayed down the beach for Dinner at Rick Stien’s Fistral casual dining abode and enjoyed a very nice Asian meal before heading back for the stunning sunset walk to the headland.
John hit the surf and caught quite a few waves before deciding he was too stuffed to jump, feeling his big breakfast making movements so it was back up to the hotel to check out and begin the drive to Clovelly.