Thursday 14th June.
There was a bit of rain to start the day but it soon cleared and allowed Mark to head off for a bike ride with his new BFF’s from the Mid Devon Cycle Club. He was home around 2 pm and so we decided to spend the afternoon visiting Totnes Castle; a 30 min drive from our apartment.
Totnes Castle is a ‘classic Norman motte and bailey castle, founded soon after the Conquest (another gift from William the Conqueror to one of his mates), to overawe the Saxon town’. That it may have been but it was very hard to find! We drove around in circles for a while, through the very narrow single-car lanes of the Old Town, and had to make two phone calls to the office for directions on how to find the place and where to park! Believe it or not Totnes Castle is less than 100m from the crowded shops of the High Street but impossible to see from the High Street. From the image of the castle below you can understand why we were expecting it to be out in the wilderness, not in a crowded town. Once there, however, we were slightly underwhelmed and glad that our English Heritage pass granted us free access. We took a few photos and then headed back to the High street as this was more impressive for us. The High street was typical of what we’ve found in many of these historic towns being long and narrow but lined with pretty buildings, many dating back to Medieval and Tudor times, but now occupied by interesting shops, galleries and cafes. Mark found two places he liked, a Beer Library and a craft beer brewing company, and I found a nice clothing shop where I was able to add a couple of new tops to my collection. We went on to have a drink at the craft brewing place before heading home for another night of dining in.
Friday 15th June
We caught the best part of the day with our morning walk as the sun was out but that didn’t last for too long. The clouds soon rolled in but at least it remained fine. It was a lazy day with Mark watching the Swans beat West Coast whilst I tried to find some trades. At around 4pm we walked down to check out some lanes that were as yet unexplored and Mark had a drink at the Hole in the Wall, one of the oldest pubs in Torquay. We then headed to our dinner venue, No 7, where we had a pre-dinner drink at their first floor bar area before out 6 pm dinner. This had been the only day and only time I could reserve and I had done so when we arrived. It was a bustling dinner venue when so many others were quiet at this time. Their focus is fish and the meals were great.
Sat 16 th June
It was a grey and drizzly morning but we managed to time our morning walk and coffee between rain showers. Being a Saturday there was a bit more activity around town and we even spotted a rather large gathering of teenagers. This was worthy of a photo! There are still relatively few young people in this area, more than Ramsgate and Hastings but nowhere near what we’re used to back home. It’s a rather surreal feeling at times…you feel like you’re part of a Dr Who episode where you’ve been whizzed off to some planet devoid of anyone under 40.
Today was our last full day in Torquay and we decided to use it by going on a drive back to the Dorset coast; some 2 hours eastward, with Portland Castle as our main target. We didn’t set off until about 11.30 and so near 1pm, when we passed through a pretty village with a cute Inn, we decided to make a stop for lunch. There were a few customers there and most seemed local giving another sense that we were stepping into Midsomer Murder territory. I did check to see if DCI Barnaby was among the gathering but, no. I opted for my first cream tea, they’re everywhere here, but Mark had a baguette and both were very nice.
There was a 30 minute drive ahead to get to the Castle so we didn’t dally. Portland Castle overlooks Portland harbour and dates back to 1539. It was a King Henry VIII inspired fortification following his departure from the Catholic Church and is considered one of the finest examples of a Tudor fort. It was intended to defend against any French or Spanish invasion following his split with the Church bit only saw action during the English civil war. Like many of these English Castle, Portsmouth has had a varied history since Henry’s days as a private home and then as a base during the first and second world wars but has been a tourist attraction since the 1950s. It was an impressive structure, with walls that were 14 feet thick, and with our audio guides, we spent about 45 minutes walking through its history, room by room.
Before we left the Castle we asked the guide where we might find a good vantage spot to inspect some of the spectacular scenery that is on display along this section of coast. We were directed to Portsmouth Bill, the lighthouse. Whilst impressive, it wasn’t quite what we were after seeing. So be googled to see where ‘Poldark’ was filmed and found that it was mostly in Cornwall and, given we’re off there next, maybe the spectacular views will have to wait.
It was 4pm before we headed for home and our sat Nav must have sensed our desire for some scenery’s it took us home via a different route. This route took us through some very pretty villages and countryside although at times the roads were very narrow making for some scary passages when other cars approached.
We were having our last night dining in and packing up for our departure the next day for Plymouth. This is just a one night stay before we head to Cornwall.