Wendy and I visited Devonshire over the past weekend, both for me to meet her sister and brother-in-law for the first time, and to have a look at the outstanding natural beauty of that region. It was quite a trip!
England is a wonder in and of itself, of course. We spent some of the time driving on highways, of course, but also traveled through the countryside on less-frequented roads. I do have to say that there are picturesque little villages everywhere one turns. And every single one of them are hundreds, if not thousands of years old!
We stayed in a nice hotel in Kingsteignton, Devonshire, the Best Western Passage House Hotel. It is a very comfy facility with an excellent breakfast! From there we visited Wendy’s sister and brother-in-law, Sally and Ken, and also Dartmoor! But both the trip to Devon as well as the trip back home were full of adventure!
The Jurassic Coast
On the way to Kingsteignton we stopped in a few picturesque towns on the Jurassic Coast, namely Lyme Regis, Seaton, and Sidmouth. Sidmouth was particularly impressive due to the red cliffs to its northeast!
The Teign Estuary
The name of the city of Kingsteignton is a compound name (commonly-seen in England) that consists of the words King, Teign and the word-ending -ton, meaning “town”. Teign is the name of the river the runs through the town, making this place Teign Town or Teignton, and apparently the town was a regional King’s vill, which would be visited by the King and his court back in the days of the Saxons in the kingdom of Wessex — thus King’s-Teign-ton.
Our hotel-room overlooked the Teign estuary (near the mouth of the Teign), which fills with water periodically as the tide comes in and recedes. It was really quite lovely having this in our backyard, so to speak. During the day we could see swans, ducks, and other waterfowl swimming in it. And from time to time in the hotel’s actual backyard we could see a number of wild rabbits enjoying themselves!
Dartmoor and Hound Tor!
On the second day we drove out to the edge of Dartmoor and visited Hound Tor. In aid of understanding, a “tor” is a is a large, free-standing rock outcrop that rises abruptly from the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of a rounded hill summit or ridge crest. Dartmoor has a lot of them.
Wendy’s favorite tor out on Dartmoor is Hound Tor. Apparently, Hound Tor helped inspire Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Wendy has visited this tor a number of times, and it is her favorite. So we climbed it of course!
On the way to this tor, we passed by a larger, somewhat more famous tor, Hay Tor:
Hay Tor has its own visitor center, which was closed by the time we arrived there, since it was nearing dusk.
Wareham and Corfe Castle
We returned home on the third day of the trip, and on the way we passed through the Isle of Purbeck, visiting the ancient Saxon city of Wareham and Corfe Castle. I should point out that the Isle of Purbeck is not a true island but a peninsula. It is bordered by the English Channel to the south and east, where steep cliffs fall to the sea; and by the marshy lands of the River Frome and Poole Harbour to the north.
Wareham is of course still inhabited, and has been for well over a thousand years. It was a walled town in ancient Saxon times, and a large part of its old protective wall still exists. It isn’t a stone wall, but is an earthen barrow-type wall that probably sprouted either a stone or wooden palisade on its top. Wendy and I mounted the wall at the point where the main road enters the city:
The wall actually still goes all the way around central old Wareham. On the only side of Wareham not surrounded by the wall, there is the River Frome protecting the eastern side of the town from its enemies!
Another point of interest in Wareham is an old cinema which dates from the 1920’s, and is still in operation! It has retained some old features in its décor, and Wendy says that the old interior gas lighting is still working! It’s the Rex Cinema:
Corfe Castle is an old ruined castle standing above a village, likewise named Corfe Castle. It was the scene of a dastardly murder back in 978 AD, when the English King Edward the Martyr was murdered, possibly at the behest of his step-mother, who wanted to see her own son, Æthelred, take the throne.
The castle itself was built many years after the events of 978, and later destroyed by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. It’s quite a sight! Unfortunately, the hour was late and we didn’t have time to explore it. We briefly visited the city of Swanage, but our intention to cross the bar of Poole Harbour on the ferry was frustrated by the ferry being out of service due to refitting. Maybe next time!
A Worthwhile Trip
This was a very pleasurable trip, and I got to see a lot of Olde England!