Wednesday 13th June.
The plan for today was to visit Dartmouth Castle and surrounds before going to Marks & Spencer’s to pick up something for dinner. We dined our last night at a great French restaurant down the road, Bistro Pierre which we thoroughly enjoyed, but dining at home with our great view is pretty special too.
Our morning walk was a little eventful today. We met this guy along the beach who had just been swimming and he informed us the water was currently a lovely 14.5 degrees Celsius and peaks in the summer at 18! He swims in a wet suit and was having tea from a thermos when we met him so clearly both are needed to thaw out after his dip. From there we went in search of a coffee spot. Mark had been on the hunt for a decent coffee stop but finally found one this morning that he was happy with; Calypso. Oh, and I bought another pair of shoes.
We eventually set off for Dartmouth at around 11 am and the 60 minute trip included a short car-ferry leg to cross the Dartmouth River. Why they haven’t built a bridge is beyond me. Our English Heritage pass granted access to the ‘Castle’ and we’re glad we didn’t have to pay. It’s nothing on the other Castles we’ve encountered on the trip thus far. It’s more of a Fortification although it does back to the 1300s and there has been a place of worship here apparently since the 600s so there’s plenty of history to soak up. However, I wouldn’t say the Castle is a ‘must do’ attraction but Dartmouth is very pretty and the narrow lanes down near the harbour have lots of interesting shops, cafes and restaurants that would be worth exploring. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, just an hour stop for a pub lunch at The Dartmouth Arms, as we had some other places we hoped to visit on the way home.
Berry Pomeroy Castle was the next stop stop after lunch and was a 25 min drive from Dartmouth and back towards Torquay. What a surprise this Castle was though! Located in a valley and accessed by a narrow and winding single-lane road, when you eventually come out into a clearing. you are confronted by the most commanding medieval Castle. What a surprise and what a sight! Now, this is a definite ‘must do’ Castle if you were ever in this part of Devon. William the Conqueror had gifted the land to the Pomeroy family in the 11th Century and the Castle was built by descendants of the family in 1500s. Sadly, the Pomeroy family was forced to sell the Castle in 1547 due to financial difficulties and, as a result, much of their scope of renovation work was not completed. The new owners built an Elizabethan mansion inside the Castle and it is the ruined shell of that mansion that is now on display. The site was later abandoned for a few hundred years before being excavated and rendered a tourist destination in the 1980s.
We spent a good hour or so inspecting all the different sections of the Castle and the audio guide offered excellent commentary to help us gather a better understanding of its history. We did find one small poor bird, a Jackdaw I was to find out, that looked to have fallen from its nest and was wandering the floor of the ruins with its mum flying above and squawking very loudly. We informed the attendant who said she’s keep an eye on it but she later told me that a Google search revealed that these birds do leave the nest prior to being able to fly and the mother feeds and guides the young whilst they adjust to life outside the nest. For all I know then, mum might have pushed it out of its nest!
It was 4 pm before me made our way back to the car and so we just headed home via stop-off at M&S to buy some supplies for dinner. It was another night of dining in.