23 – 24 May
The bus journey along the Jurassic Coast to Exeter is one of the most scenic in the UK and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The sea is always in sight, jostled between slanting green slopes and cut-away cliff faces. The roads are narrow and hemmed in either side by hedges, necessitating some deft manoeuvring by the bus driver. Careening through tiny villages from the top of the double-decker bus, you have a keen insight into the backyards and patios of the local populace, not to mention sweeping vistas over the ocean. Sitting in the front row, high above the rest of the traffic on the road, it’s just you and the landscape.
|Passing by St Catherine’s Chapel, Abbotsbury, along the Jurassic Coast. Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com|
We managed a very brief visit to the stunning Dartmoor region, based in the city of Exeter. A pleasant afternoon was spent in Exeter wandering along the remnants of the Roman and medieval city wall, the catacombs lining the ancient cemetery, and Stepcote Hill (the cobbled, steep entrance to the city used since Roman times). Attending Evensong at Exeter Cathedral topped off the afternoon. Evensong is such a lovely service, no wonder it seems to be becoming a habit on our travels so far. It never fails to lift my spirits. Interesting fact: the Gothic vault ceiling in the Exeter cathedral is the longest in the world.
|Stepcote Hill, Exeter. Very steep and narrow!|
We only had one full day to explore Dartmoor, home to the largest number of archaeological sites in all of Europe, stunning hiking trails and wild ponies. We headed to Okehampton in the north of Dartmoor and walked part of the trail linking Okehampton and Launceston castles.
Okehampton Castle is set on a picturesque motte over the River Okemont, and it is surrounded by woodland and streams teeming with birds and wildflowers. The castle was built in medieval times but has been left in ruins since the mid 15th century. The walls lean out at impossible angles, and exposed helical staircases lead to nowhere. It was quite stunning to walk between the rooms with the open sky for a ceiling.
|Okehampton Castle, Dartmoor.|
Continuing along the walking trail took us through meadows of beautiful bluebells, along rushing streams and through green forests. After a while the trail emerged out of the forest into sprawling plush fields filled with sleepy calves. It was a gorgeous, almost mystical-feeling walk. Even though I didn’t make it to the main part of Dartmoor, traipsing around the edge in Okehampton was an incredible experience.
|Walking near Okehampton, Dartmoor.|
|Bluebells along the trail, Dartmoor.|
|Rolling green fields, Dartmoor.|