Long time readers of this journal will be aware that travelogues are not exactly an area where I shine. When I do write them, they are full of detail and pictures![*] However, all too often I never end up writing a memorable account for an adventure and too many trips (e.g.
, the second half of my time in Rome
) never get the write-up that they deserve.
Two weeks ago, cheshcat
and I took a four day trip to Cornwall and Devon, where we celebrated our fourteenth anniversary. In a few hours, we leave Oxford again for another four day trip on this bank holiday weekend. If I am ever going to write a travelogue for the anniversary trip, it really needs to be now.
Of our four days, we spent the first two and a half in Cornwall and the remaining day and a half in Devon. In Cornwall, we started with a visit to The Eden Project
. Simply put, the Eden Project is the largest greenhouse in the world. It was constructed in an old clay pit and, at its heart, consists of three biomes, two of which -- the Rainforest Biome and the Mediterranean Biome -- are covered in enormous domes. Since the first day of our trip was the rainy day, we decided that this would be a good place to begin. We were not mistaken! Eden is quite an impressive site! We started in "The Core", which is the education centre, then spent the afternoon wandering about the biomes. It was all magnificent, though I think that the indoor waterfall in the Rainforest Biome might have been my favourite part. I am, after all, such a water elemental!
The weather on the second day was much better, so we paid a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan
. The gardens were originally built over four hundred years ago, when the estate was the residence of the Tremayne family. However, most of the twenty-two gardeners died whilst fighting in the First World War... and the garden fell into a state of neglect afterward. A couple of decades ago, they were restored to glory and are now quite a splendid way to spent a sunny summer day!
Of course, cheshcat
and I did more than just visit gardens while we were in Cornwall. We did quite a bit of driving about, especially when the sun was shining, to admire the landscape, the coast, and the beach. We also did a bit of random exploring, diverting from our path when something interesting (or interesting sounding) caught our attention. This led us on little side adventures through villages with names like "Gweek" and -- in Devon -- "Crapstone".
Being in England's SouthWest peninsula, I also could not resist making trips to Lizard Point
and Land's End
. Lizard Point is the most Southerly point in Great Britain... though it is still about thirty-nine miles North of the most Northerly point in the contiguous United States
. Land's End is the most Westerly point in England... though not in all of Great Britain -- Scotland extends twenty-two miles further West. Although many (most?) of my friends may not care about such geographical silliness, longtime readers of this journal -- or anyone who knows me well -- should not be surprised! After all, on our anniversary three years ago, cheshcat
and I paid a visit to the supposed "Southernmost Point in the Continental USA"
whilst we were visiting Key West
When we arrived at Lizard Point, it was getting close to dusk and it was raining... so cheshcat
and I were the only people there. I was seized by a bout of mania when I realised that I
most Southerly person in ALL
of Great Britain! If you have ever played Four Square with me, you can imagine what this looked and sounded like. There is also a picture that cheshcat
took behind the cut below. During our visit to Land's End, the weather was much
better and shared quite a delicious dinner in the most Westerly restaurant in England, watching as darkness fell over this small island.
The last thing that we did in Cornwall was visit the Tamar Otter Sanctuary & Wildlife Park
. This is the project that can be credited with saving the otter from extinction in Great Britain. Although they no longer need to breed otters for conservation reasons, they still have a goodly number of these cute little guys on-site. We watched them play and get fed, then we wandered through the Wildlife Park, feeding deer and [successfully] seeking out a waterfall. Finally, we fed ourselves before moving on to the Devon part of our trip.
In Devon, we drove about Dartmoor Forest
, looking for interesting views and picturesque villages. We were not disappointed! At Postbridge
, we found a fourteenth century Clapper Bridge
-- of course, I had to park the car and cross it on foot! We also made a point of searching for neolithic stones. Although I have been to Avebury four times and Stonehenge six, it has been quite some time since cheshcat
and I visited any new ancient Stones. I believe that our trip to the Castlerigg Stone Circle
in the Lake District during our May 2007 trip was the last time. So we hunted out the Spinsters Rock
, an arrangement of four Stones -- about five thousand years old -- that marked a pre-historic burial mound.
The final day of our trip -- our actual anniversary -- was spent mainly in Devon, with a little time in Somerset. We began at Exeter Cathedral
, founded in 1050. At this point, I have been to a fair number of English Cathedrals -- eight, I believe -- and have started to consider myself something of an amateur connoisseur. By my standards, Exeter Cathedral was very nice... but not overly spectacular. The bits that most caught my attention were:
- The vaulted ceiling, which is the longest in England.
- The canopy over the Bishop's throne. Built between 1313 and 1316 by Thomas of Whitney[**] -- without the use of a single nail! -- it has the largest canopy in Britain. During the Second World War, this wonderful piece of fourteenth century woodwork was preserved by disassembling it and moving it elsewhere for safekeeping.
- Not one, but two colleges of Oxford University came from Exeter. Bishop William Stapeldon founded Stapeldon College, now known as Exeter College in 1314. Meanwhile, two hundred years later, Bishop Hugh Oldham co-founded Corpus Christi College in 1517.
- The astronomical clock, because it is old and cool!
- A long woven cushion that tells the history of the cathedral. Although modern -- from the late 1980s -- it is still an impressive accomplishment!
Upon leaving Exeter Cathedral, cheshcat
and I headed to Exmoor National Park
, which we proceeded to explore in much the same way that we had done with Dartmoor on the previous day. We had picked the right time of year to visit Dartmoor and Exmoor -- the purple heather was blooming in both parks, much as it had been when we explored the North York Moors last August. We drove North through the forest, then West along the coastline -- stopping whenever a nifty village or a beautiful view caught our collective eye. It rained lightly from time to time and, as a result, we were treated to rainbows on no fewer than four
occasions! One of these rainbows was the largest that I have ever
seen, and the full hemi-circle of the arch was visible from our vantage point! We drove up the Porlock Hill and made our way to Lynmouth, where we stopped to watch the setting of the sun and then got ourselves a nice dinner in the village before making our way back to Oxford and Skullcrusher Mountain.
One would think that this would mark the end of a very enjoyable trip... but not quite. The drive home took place in the dark and, as chance would have it, less than twenty-four hours after the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. Thus, our return journey was punctuated every now and then by a shooting star zipping by, interrupting whatever conversation that cheshcat
and I were having at the time. Definitely not
a bad way to end a long weekend!( For those who have read this far, there are pictures from our trip beneath the cut. )
[*] For a recent example, see how much I was able to write about the short (day and a half) trip to Belvoir and Lincoln last month.
[**] Which, apropos to nothing, is right near Oxford!