Sunday 17th June.
It was overcast on our final morning in Torquay but we got a walk in before setting off for Plymouth. Plymouth is only an hour from Torquay so we detoured via Salcombe along the way. What a pretty part of the world this is. Salcombe is a small seaside town in south Devon with a protected harbour supporting a strong fishing and boating community. The area is now also a resort town favored by yatching types. We noticed that ‘Deck shoes’ were the footwear of choice here.
The narrow high street, running parallel to the harbour, was lined with lovely cafes, pubs, shops and restaurants with the clothing shops carrying mostly nautical attire. We sought out a good coffee venue for Mark and the Ward Room featured so that’s the one we chose. It’s a quirky place accessed through a clothing boutique but it looks out over the harbour so was a good choice for our short visit. Mark had cream tea this time and he is now a fan of their ‘clotted cream’. We then strolled the high street for a few minutes and witnessed all the activity surrounding the false alarm of the sea rescue boat. I was also warned off by one of the huge seagulls they have over here from getting too close to her three chicks. All in all, it was a pretty eventful hour-long visit to Salcombe.
The drive on to Plymouth from Salcombe took about an hour and was through lush green countryside making for pleasant travel. We were only staying one night in Plymouth as, we had a gap between our airbnb bookings, so we chose a small boutique hotel that had been highly reviewed on TripAdvisor. Our sat Nav, however, took us to the wrong boutique hotel: why it favored this 3 star abode was beyond me. A phone call later though and we were down the street and parked at our correct 4 star boutique hotel. The Imperial Plymouth is a family run business and our hosts, Mike and Louise were most accommodating by receiving us early, lodging our bags, giving us the keys for when the room was ready and offering advice of what to do for lunch, dinner where best to explore.
So we set off at around 1.15 pm towards the Hoe, or high ground, which was just a 5 min walk up the road. This is a prominent part of the coastal foreshore and where you find the light house, and a little further along, the Plymouth Royal Citadel, a 17th Century fortification, commissioned by Charles II during the Dutch wars, but still currently used in active service. On walking past this we noticed that tours were only on set days, Sunday being one of them, and run by English Heritage (our pass!) and at 2.30 pm (a time that suited us)!. So, given it was rather miserable weather, cold, windy and drizzling, we thought this might be a good indoor activity. We continued on down to the Old Town, or Barbican as it’s called here, for a quick pub lunch at The Crown and Anchor before heading back to the Royal Citadel. We were lucky to cut the grade for entry as you are meant to pre-book but luckily we filled the last two vacant spots. My hope of an indoor-style Castle tour was dashed though as, given its the location of their special forces unit, the 2 hour tour was almost entirely outdoors, bar a few minutes in the Chapel, and was along the top of the ramparts, the most vulnerable and wind blown sections at that! The time was ok but more if you were after a Certificate IV in Cannons. Yes! Cannons. Jane, our friendly guide knew everything there is to know about cannon-style weapons from every war. I spent more time assessing the type of clothing people chose to wear on this cold, wet and windy day. Open sandals. Shorts. T shirts. Really? Mark kept wondering where everyone was. The Royal Citadel is still occupied by the military, being the base of 29 Commando Regiment of the Royal Artillery, but we didn’t see anyone really.
Anyway, 4.30 pm rolled around soon enough so we headed back to our hotel to check out our room. It was on the second floor with a generous floor plan, a small balcony and was lovely. We’d happily stay here longer if needed or time permitted.
We didn’t hang there long though as we’d booked an early dinner, our preference anyway but most places close early on a Sunday here, so we headed out at 5.30 pm to find a pub for Mark to have a beer before dinner. It was hard to find one that wasn’t stuffy and smelly after being crammed all day with folk hibernating from the weather but we eventually found The Queens Arms that had an open door allowing for some fresh air. That cute notion of small English pub filled with happy folk is fine, so long as they ventilate the joint. There was only time for drink before our 6.30 pm dinner booking but that suited me fine. There were no such problems at our dinner venue though, Kapadokya. We were, as has often been the case, the only ones dining. A couple of others were there by the time we left but this touristy area of Plymouth, much like our Rocks area of Sydney, seemed very quiet for what you might expect on a Summer Sunday evening.
It was a short walk back to the hotel which is ideally located for our short visit to Plymouth. We haven’t had time to see much but Plymouth is pretty and has a rich history so is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood.