What do you do when you are staying in Dawlish, England? Well, first you refer to our Dawlish blog post for ideas. Then you begin to venture out to nearby towns!
Our host, Caroline, was nice enough to leave us her car which really made it possible for us to (a) get groceries and (b) explore the area she lives in. We spent many of our days in Dawlish hiking or driving to nearby cities to see what they had to offer!
This town was right down the road from us. We walked along the sea wall about 2 miles and arrived in the center of town. The walk was beautiful, as always, strolling along the ocean and basking in the ‘sun.’ It did actually get warm enough to take off our snow coats that day! We had a lot of fun on our walk, but the town was nothing to write home about. It was a small town with two churches and just a few roads with shops. Nothing spectacular but a nice beach-side walk nonetheless.
I didn’t want to even include Holcome, but Brad has a special place for this little village in his heart. I wouldn’t even really call this a ‘town,’ it was more like 5 or 6 buildings in a neighborhood of it’s own. The draw to visiting this village is that the houses are centuries old and built in the old traditional way with thick, thatched roofs.
I will say, however, the walk to Holcome was gorgeous. We walked up on the rolling hills and looked down at the ocean from above. The ‘public footpaths’ led us smack dab through two farmer’s fields and we ended up sharing our path with first a horse and then a cow! I was too scared to take a photo, the cow was that close! It was a beautiful, muddy walk to a group of 6 buildings 🙂
This was our first hike in England that wasn’t based on the coastline. This hike took us through a beautiful forest as we followed a wildly inaccurate map. We had to ask for directions twice and backtrack many times to be able to locate ourselves on the map, but it was a very peaceful and pretty walk through the woods.
The hike also passes a lovely church and gatehouse that Brad climbed up in (of course.) The city itself, again, was nothing to speak of, but there are lots of hiking trails in the area to try.
Once upon a time, my step-mother and her brother were promised a beach vacation from their dad. They arrived in the “English Riviera” and spent their vacation time on the beaches of Torquay and still complain about that trip today. 🙂 As long as you don’t visit Torquay for the BEACH, it is actually a cute little city. The beaches here are white and grey from the silt and pebbles and although beautiful to look at are not the white sandy beaches you go sunbathe on. We visited Torquay twice during our time in Dawlish and really liked it’s big-city-but-small-town charm.
Much larger than the other cities in this post, Torquay has lots of restaurants and shops as well as a booming marina. They have a large aviary which they call the “Living Coast” as well as an arcade that we visited while waiting for our bus 🙂
Buckfast is a small English community known for the large monastery called Buckfast Abbey. This land was purchased in the early 19th century and the abbey was built BY HAND by FIVE monks. One of the monks was a mason, and the other four had no background in bricklaying, but took direction from the first. It took them many years, but they built this enormous Abbey stone by stone and it is still a working Benedictine monastery today. There are 44 monks that live, work, and worship in the Abbey currently.
We toured the Abbey itself as well as the gardens and shops on the premises. The monks hand make many products that our sold in the shops at the Abbey and in nearby towns to help make money to run the monastery. Their stories are fascinating. We hoped to learn more when we followed a sign that said “This way to cupcake decorating classes with a monk!” We were so excited because, I mean… how many times do you get an offer like that? Cupcakes.. and monks. Count us in. Unfortunately the cupcake decorating was only for 5-14 year olds so we walked away embarrassed and still craving sweets.
Saved the biggest for last. Exeter is the metropolitan area near our home in Dawlish. It is quite a large city with lots of shopping, restaurants, transportation, etc. Our the day we spent in Exeter, we met up with a “Red Coat Guide” for a free tour of the area. She took us on a 90 minute tour and walk of the Exeter Cathedral Close and Quayside areas of town, providing us with an awesome history lesson along the way. Did you know the first people settled in Exeter in 25Ad? 25!!! I mean, WHAAATTTTT???
We learned about the Romans settling in Exeter and building a fortification wall around the city. There are sections of the wall still left in the city today. Our guide showed us the differences in all the stones that make up the wall and it was really interesting to see which stone was original, which were medieval patches to the wall, and which were even more recent patches. There is so much history in this town! What is even more interesting is how they have integrated the historical elements of town with the new, modern areas. We walked through their stunning new mall and there are ruins of Almshouses throughout the mall. Between a coffee shop and the Apple store you can step into history and read about what used to stand there. Very cool.
We finished our tour in Quayside (pronounced Key-Side.) This is an area along the River Exe that has lots of boat rentals, boutiques, and dining out options. There are even shops in the old cargo cellars. We had lunch on the Quay and I had my first meat and ale pie which is very English indeed. It was amazing.
That’s all for now! Cheers!