Travel Jottings

Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Britain, Ireland and beyond. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you.

Sampling Some Southwestern Sights

Bath Abbey, Bath, Somerset, England

England's southwest has not seen much of me aside from a trip to Bath and travelling though to and from south Wales. It is not just the distance to some of its delights that has been the cause but those in the midlands and north of England, Wales, Scotland and other shores. Still, there are plenty of reasons for lovers of hill country and dramatic coastline to go exploring these places. That is why this collection is here and it should live a while yet if I have anything to do with it. In time, I may get to add more.

Cornwall

Something tells me that this part of England is about the same distance from London as, say, Aberdeen. That it is the final destination for one of Britain's two overnight sleeper train services may have something to do with that impression. The  county is, of course, host to Land's End and that brings a goodly number of folks wanting to walk or cycle between there and John O' Groat's in Scotland. Being surrounded by the sea on there sides also means that plenty of coastal exploration is available for the more active of inclination too. Needless to say,what I have said so far only scratches the surface of what Cornwall as does the following list for there have to be others: Hidden Valley Discovery Park, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Llama Lland, Cornwall at War Museum, Wheal Martyn Museum & Country Park and Bodmin Jail.

The north Cornish coast is a dramatic place to walk so it is not surprise that the South West Coast Path goes along here. It also is replete with places like Boscastle and Tintagel where you can break your walk. The first of this is a picturesque fishing village while the second has associations with the mythical King Arthur. It probably is best not to rush through these parts.

Fal River

This website promotes an area that extends downstream from near the city of Truro to Falmouth so information on boat trips is part of what you find here. They include the ferry from St. Mawes to Falmouth and that is a necessity for those following the South West Coast Path as well as those who need to get around anyway. There is more walking around there than that and other activities are possible so a look at this website has its uses.

Isles of Scilly

These islands were once beloved of a one time Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. That they are as far flung as they are must mean that a stay on them must feel like a world away. The brochure is littered with scenes containing blue skies and azure seas that make you wonder if it really is like that for much of the time. Apparently, they have Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status too so the scenery must be worth the effort.

This city is Cornwall's county town and here are two web portals promoting its charms, which include its cathedral. The first website belongs to a not-for-profit public interest company engaged in promoting the town while the second was under construction when I last looked. If that moves beyond links to Visit Cornwall and tourist brochures, then it will be worth another look.

Devon

Though I'll readily admit that I've yet to visit Devon, there does seem to be a lot to savour down there. In fact, there was a time when I was happy to stick to exploring the north of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland so I discounted England's southwest. The change to this is a certain satisfaction with having a little nibble of an area such as what I gained on a Bank Holiday weekend trip to the Isle of Man.

With two coastlines and two national parks (Exmoor and Dartmoor), it never can be said that Devon is lacking in possibilities for someone like who seeks out quieter corners but the south coast also offers plenty for those seeking to be surrounded by people with Exeter being one possibility. Of course, there are other attractions in the area like Marwood Hill Gardens or Great Fulford if anyone wants to see another side to Devon and some are taken more with clotted cream accompanied sweet treats than I ever would be.

Dartmoor

This is one of two national parks that you'll find in Devon and the website is that of the local tourism assoication. It's a lavish affair and that's what you need for encouraging visitors to come to your patch. All the usual types of information are here and it looks like a very good place to start when pondering or planning a visit to this upland area.

English Riviera Global Geopark

It isn't for nothing that Devon has given its name to a period in geological history and the area around Torbay is involved in that story, as populous as it is these days. Maybe that is the reason that this part of the world has been declared a geopark and this is its official website. Maybe, it's one that needs attention from those that frequent purely for the seaside resort attractions that it offers. nbv

Jurassic Coast

Admittedly, much of this stretch of coastline is shared with neighbouring Dorset but it is a World Heritage Site thanks to its geology and it extends as far west as Exmouth in Devon from Swanage in the other county. It's been photographed many times too so that's one way in which it came to my notice. In addition, the very long National Trail that is the South West Coast Path follows the outline too so it crops up in walking magazines as well as photography ones. This website from Devon and Dorset county councils should let you in on what draws all the attention.

Visit Plymouth

While the city of Exeter is the county town, Plymouth is the largest city in Devon and this is the website promoting its delights. There seems to be plenty to do around here and Dartmoor is not far that away either so it could be a good base for a first trip to the area.

Sidmouth

This turns out to be quite a sizeable place on the south coast of East Devon when you inspect a map. A look at the brochure published by the town council will convince that the place is full of hotels and guesthouses so it should make a good base for exploring the coast about here. With the Jurassic Coast nearby and the South West Coast Path passing the way, there should be plenty for the coastal walker too.

South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

This is a varied landscape with five estuaries and coastal cliffs as well as the farming land that makes up 84 % of its area. It abounds with walking and cycling opportunities too and there should be plenty sea-based activities.

Dorset

The coastline is a major attraction here and much of it goes under the moniker of Jurassic Coast because of the number of fossils dating from that period in Earth's history that have been found here. Even now, fossil hunting remains a draw for some. Aside from that, the coastline looks stunning too and is very photogenic, especially when the weather allows and at the times of day when attractive lighting is available from the sun. The official tourism website tells all that you need to know for planning a trip to the area for this and any inland pleasures like Sherbourne Castle & Gardens that are there to be found.

Charmouth and Lulworth Cove then are but two of the coastal delights that are to be found and there is an AONB too. Also, there is a village that was evacuated during World War II for the establishment of Lulworth Firing Range and only is accessible at certain times of the year even now. This is Tyneham and fans of history could do worse than look at the Dorset Online Parish Clerks website for information on other Dorset villages that were not asked to make the same sacrifice.

Bournemouth

This south coast seaside resort is found to the east of the Jurassic Coast and is not far from Poole. As well as having its own attractions, it could be a convenient base for the likes of the New Forest too. The website tells all so you can work out what draws you.

Gloucestershire

For all its rural attractions like the Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire is not a place that I have come to explore either. There is built heritage in the form of Gloucester Cathedral, the town of Cheltenham and Woodchester Mansion too so this part of England is one whose neglect is something that I might want to end.

There seems to be quite an amount of wildlife in this part of Gloucestershire with even wild boar living in these broadleaved woodlands. Though these creatures need some care should you encounter one or more of them, there seems to be a generous range of outdoor activities on offer all the same. Included among these are walking and cycling, two to which I have been known to be amenable.

This well known area of rolling hill country is shared across a number of counties but Gloucester gets more than its fair share so I have added it here. From what I have read, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is relatively manicured with plenty of pretty villages to visit. There are places nestling in pretty countryside like Dursley too and that is a stopping point on the Cotswold Way National Trail as well as being a Walkers are Welcome town with its own annual walking festival.

Somerset

It's a county that seems to have a lot to offer the visitor. For one thing, it plays host to most of the Exmoor National Park with the rest forming part of neighbouring Dorset. In addition, the county also features threes AONB's: Quantock Hills, Blackdown Hills and Mendip Hills. These seem to be just a selection of the county's delights since many more feature on the website and there's also Wookey Hole caves for those fancying somewhere under cover. Naturally, these are accompanied by the information that you need to organise places to stay and work out what to do while on a visit. This is a part of the world that I have yet to visit but it looks as if I have been missing out on a lot, given what I have found on this website.

It was not until November 2015 that I had not got as far as exploring this pretty Georgian city to see why it is such a visitor magnet. While the roman baths and the natural spa clearly will draw many, I contented myself with wandering about ogling the architecture in whatever sunshine there was before embarking on a spot of shopping. The first exploit gave much in the form of memories and  photos on what was a short visit and the church of Bath Abbey was one those first sights. Longer stays would allow time for visiting numerous museums with the choices including those run by the Bath Preservation Trust (they have four dotted about the place) or others such as the Holburne Museum. Museum of East Asian Art and the American Museum in Britain. The city also has literary associations so we get the Jane Austen Centre because the author was a long time resident of the place. Between all this, there should be plenty to occupy rainy days when wander about out of doors is not so pleasurable.

There was a time when I might have lived in Bristol for the purposes of continuing my university education. It never came to pass and it was Edinburgh where I went instead. The reason for that decision came down to funding rather than location so there might be time for me to pop over the Avon Gorge to what I might have missed. One of the bridges that spans that expanse is the Clifton Bridge that was started by Isambard Kingdom Brunel only for it to be finished after his death as a memorial to his engineering endeavours. It remains an important landmark to this day and merits its own website as a result.

Dunster is a Somerset village on the eastern edge of Exmoor and here are two websites extolling its attractions. The second of these belongs to the Crown Estate and offers opportunities for various outdoor activities on its patch of moorland.

Wiltshire

Like so many places in the southwest of England, Wiltshire is not somewhere that I have gone about visiting. With places such as the Savernake Estate, Salisbury and a portion of the Cotswolds, it has its allure for visitors. These just are a selection and it's books like Simon Jenkins' England's 100 Best Views are taking me towards the south of England without my actually physically getting that far.