The distance between the New Forest in Wiltshire and Falmouth in Cornwall is about 200 miles and takes about 4 hours on mainly provincial roads. (http://gotthefridgemagnet.com/?p=8884)
To make our week-long trip more interesting and less onerous for my partner (who was doing all the driving), I arranged for us to stop over in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall on the way there and back, taking in a couple of National Trust properties. For our accommodation I chose a couple of Old English Inns
On Day 1, we stopped at Barrington Court, a National Trust property near Ilminster in Somerset, for mid morning tea and fruit scone to start our week-long break.
The weather was rather unsettled, but we managed to walk around the beautifully kept gardens and the imposing exteriors of this manor house without being rained on. Then heavens opened soon after we were on the road!!
Fisherman’s Cot , Tiverton
When we arrived at Fisherman’s Cot near Tiverton in the early afternoon the weather was wicked, windy and wet. The bridge across River Exe right by the inn had recently been damaged by a lorry and was closed to traffic. What a great start, I thought!!
The spacious though simple room, soon restored my optimism. When the rain stopped we strolled across the bridge which would have been a busy road had it not been closed for repair! On the other side of the bridge there’re Devon Railway Centre (which was closed due to a family bereavement) and Bickleigh Mill which houses 3 floors of shops and a bistro.
It was just as well that we booked a table for dinner when we checked in because the restaurant was fully booked. It’s not surprising because the tables were well spaced out to observe social distancing, the food and service were excellent and the price really reasonable
Early the following morning, I went for a walk before breakfast at 7.30. What a joy to see the premises of Fisherman’s Cot under a sunny blue sky! The grey steely sky of the day before would not have done justice to its stunning location!
As it turned out the damaged bridge was a blessing in disguise in my selfish viewpoint. I mean, I would be taking my life in my hand trying to take a photo of the inn from the otherwise busy main road to Exeter!
After breakfast (with the most wonderful freshly baked croissant), we were on our way to the Green Bank Hotel at Falmouth, taking a detour to Mevagissey.
I visited this little fishing village many years ago. In my mind, I had this idyllic frozen image of the golden shimmer on the water as the fishing boats came in at sunset. Alas, reality is no friend of memories enhanced by nostalgia! It didn’t help that the tide was out and the boats looked stranded. And then it started to drizzle. Still, this quaint little village is a pretty enough place for a visit
On leaving Cornwall, we stopped off at Cotelehe near Saltash, another National Trust property, en route to Buckfastleigh for 2 nights. Cotelehe was a great place for a break.
The Tudor house looked very impressive but I was more interested with the views of the gardens and the walks around the grounds.
The stroll down from the house to Cotehele Mill was very pleasant, but the steep climb back up to the car park afterwards was a bit of a challenge!
Dartbridge Inn, Buckfastleigh
If there were ever places that flatter to deceive, Dartbridge Inn was one of them. The image of the laid-back charm of this traditional 19th century English inn is deceiving. It’s on the very busy Totnes Road with non stop traffic. I took a risk to dash across the road to take the above photo after the rush hour, at 20.00.
Owing to a mix-up of the dates, I booked to stay 2 nights, instead of 1 that I had intended. The room on the first night (Room 1), was the worst room I’ve ever stayed in. It’s so small that my partner risked banging his head on the eave every time he got out of bed.
The noise from the giant generators right outside the window and the extract fan mounted on the outside wall of the room made sleeping almost impossible. It was like sleeping in an engine room. It’s not as if the room was cheap at £120 a night! On the second night I pre-paid for an upgraded room (Room 18) which was so much better, almost double in size and much quieter. However, I wouldn’t want to stay there again
South Devon Railway
The main attractions in the area are stream trains at South Devon Railway and Buckfast Abbey These two compensated for the disappointment of my stay at Dartbridge Inn. The steam train in motion was a special sight to behold, especially as there’s a special carriage named “Louise”!
The station is set in a picturesque location with a riverside walk.
The station and the interiors of the train are a real blast from the past.
We took a ride on the steam train to Totnes for lunch, returning in good time to visit Buckfast Abbey. The Abbey has a spacious restaurants and grounds with some quaint features, like the wall made of logs and a metal sculpture of a deer drinking water in a garden filled with forget-me-nots
With international travel presently fraught with anxiety, I’ll make the most of the beautiful south west England for more staycation!