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Devon and Somerset (Knightshayes Court and Cothay Manor) April 2013

A beautiful willow sculpture in the gardens of Knightshayes Court, near Tiverton, Devon

Click the picture if you would like to see some posts about our recent visit to Devon and Somerset

If you are interested, here are the direct links:

[Knightshayes Court, National Trust gardens, Devon]
[Cothay Manor, privately owned with beautiful gardens, Somerset]

Knightshayes Court, Devon, April 2013

Knightshayes (near Tiverton, Devon, not far south of Exmoor) is one of the nicest National Trust properties that we have visited, even with the English seasons about a month behind normal and the weather distinctly iffy.

Click any picture below to visit the Knightshayes Court web site.

Descending from the terrace - a magical trip for a small girl

Some of the garden's many beautiful willow sculptures...

...and hedge topiary

Truly beautiful...

More willow sculptures here on the Knightshayes Facebook page

I loved the textures of bark, tile and stone...

...and these owls in the garden shop!

You will find many more photos of Knightshayes at all times of year on the Knightshayes Facebook Page.

[Devon and Somerset visit continues in Part 2]

Dartmouth, South Devon, Sept/Oct 2012

View of Kingswear (left) and Dartmouth castle (right, in the distance) from near the Bayards Cove Inn, Dartmouth

Click the picture if you would like to see some posts about our recent visit to South Devon

If you are interested, here are the direct links:

[Dartmouth, boat trip to Totnes, local walks and steam railway trip to Paignton]
[Visit to Greenway, Agatha Christie's holiday home above the river Dart]

Dartmouth, South Devon, Sept/Oct 2012

We had a nice week (with very mixed weather) in Dartmouth, staying in a self-catering apartment. Because of all the places we could reach on foot, by boat, or by steam train, we didn't use the car once while we were there!

The highlight was probably our visit to Greenway, Agatha Christie's much-loved holiday home, set in lovely grounds overlooking the Dart (see Part 2 below).

If you are interested, a GoogleMap showing the places in this photoblog will be found here.

The view from our apartment, one evening about halfway through the holiday when the sun reappeared! This is a training facility for Royal Naval cadets.

Some of the small boats that the cadets learn to handle

Flowers on the apartment's kitchen windowsill

Kingswear at night, across the river from Dartmouth

The lower ferry (one of two constantly crossing in either direction) connecting Dartmouth and Kingswear, which we used later as foot-passengers

All the power is provided by the tug - the newer "higher ferry", very close to our apartment, runs on guide wires

View of Kingswear (left) and Dartmouth castle (right, in the distance) from near the Bayards Cove Inn. Actually taken late in the morning on a typical dull day (at least it wasn't raining at the moment!)

Bayards, near the lower ferry

The Bayards Cove Inn, our favourite cosy hangout spot in bad weather (excellent food at lunch-time, at this time of year they also do Tapas 4 evenings a week from 6 to 9 PM - you can stay here, but check the room prices)

"Along Bayards" by Chris Forsey RI, a print of which was hanging on the wall of the Bayards Cove Inn

Last year in October we took a boat trip from Dartmouth to Dittisham (see the end of this post) This was the end of a longer trip on the same boat, arriving in Totnes


We didn't get off here, due to weather and timing, but it would be nice to do it in good weather

The return trip - pretty much the only photo on this voyage that came out (and I had to work hard on this one)

Near the lower ferry

A nice morning (relatively)! Start of a walk from Dartmouth to Dartmouth Castle and beyond. The twin town of Kingswear is in the distance, and Bayard's Cove Fort is below

View to the right...

...view to the left from a bit further along the road. You might be able to see the higher ferry crossing (upper centre), our apartment is just beyond it on the left hand side, to the left of the Royal Naval training facility

My spouse picked this as a "Des. Res." (sorry - English advertising abbreviation for "Desirable Residence")

Looking back at the boat pier in Dartmouth, telephoto lens cranked up to max (tiny camera but great lens for its size) - fairly low tide

Passing Warfleet Creek

We didn't stop at Dartmouth Castle on the outward walk, this is some way beyond it. Lots of nice empty picnic spots below with a great view.

Descending to Sugary Cove, which features as an EU super-clean beach (but at least at low tide, I would be very careful swimming here because of sharp rocks)

My spouse in her element....

Ancient folded rocks on the left hand side of Sugary Cove

I couldn't resist slipping this photo in. It was actually taken in Bathurst Inlet on the previous day (30th Sept). Bathurst Inlet is quite far away from Dartmouth (currently around 60,000,000 miles, on Mars) and the camera system that took it is a wee bit more expensive than mine! [Click the image for more info].

View across the mouth of the Dart

The Coast Walk goes on and on.... we turned around here on this occasion!

Another view across the mouth of the Dart (telephoto doing its stuff again)

Dartmouth Castle

Very steep narrow stairs leading down to the Battery

View from the top of the Castle

The little water taxi that shuttles to and from the Castle, saving weary legs on the way back!

We missed that particular boat... another telephoto view up river

View (mainly of Kingswear) from the water taxi landing

By the water taxi landing - the Mermaid sculpture is by a lady called Elizabeth Hadley

In the boat, looking back on the Castle and St. Petrox Church

Some passengers go free!

...dark rain clouds and bright sun producing some nice lighting effects

The Kingswear docks where two ferries come in, the Lower Ferry on the right and the Dartmouth Railway ferry (more expensive) on the left. The railway station is at the top of the ramp from either ferry.

A lot of the time the weather was like this... but we didn't really mind

Taking the lower ferry across to Kingswear, on the start of a steam railway journey to Paignton

We had plenty of time before the train, so we went for a walk through Kingswear and along the coast walk downstream (for a short way)

Does anyone recognize this place, just downstream from Kingswear?

Navigation beacon for boats coming in from the sea

We turned around on the coast path and took a climbing road back across the top of Kingswear. Looking down on the railway which we are about to get on...

Kingswear station

While at school, I was always fascinated by the model train sets that some friends of mine were lucky enough to have in their attics. I have a feeling that everyone working on this railway is having fun with a full size version!

"Lydham Manor" is the name of this rather beautiful locomotive, if there are any train buffs out there who want to know! It once hauled the Royal Train in the late 1950's.

Goodrington Sands, the stop just before Paignton, and where we should have got off! On a nice day this would be great for kids... As far as Paignton goes, what can I tell you? "It is better to journey than to arrive" about sums it up, especially in wet weather. But the trip was very enjoyable.

The only part of Paignton worth showing!

Yup, diesel locomotives are just not the same... The railway company is offering "footplate tickets" for people to treat their male relatives to a ride with the driver (I can imagine that some ladies wouldn't mind riding here too!)

Back in Dartmouth... when the sun DID come out,the light was wonderful

(BTW: the Station Restaurant, a very popular eatery seen here, was intended for the Dartmouth railway station that was never built)

The Britannia Royal Naval College, basking in unaccustomed sun. Lord Mountbatten and other male royals have studied here (and my spouse's grandfather).

[Dartmouth visit continues in Part 2]

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie (trip from Dartmouth)
[Dartmouth visit continued from Part 1]

The start of a really nice day. We're off to visit Greenway, Agatha Christie's much-loved holiday home. On the way out, we took the train (Greenway Halt is its first stop on the way to Paignton). View from the train...

View from the railway viaduct that is about 80 feet high here, crossing the creek

Greenway Halt, looking back at the tunnel that the train has just come through. Smoke (or steam) keeps billowing out of the tunnel for several minutes (and out of railway carriages where passengers have foolishly left the windows open!)

Greenway Halt. Start of an unexpectedly long and high-climbing National Trust footpath to Greenway (allow half an hour and wear good boots in wet weather!) - we're told it's less distance if you keep to the road

The path climbs up through woods... and up... and eventually you end up here, wondering where Greenway itself is...

Along the path which faith tells us will eventually reach Greenway, although we are now about half-way back to Dartmouth!

Not there yet, but it's looking hopeful...


Greenway is a beautiful holiday home - 30 acres of ground perched above the Dart, and a truly "homely" house. "Dead Man's Folly" was one of Agatha Christie's books that was set here (in Greenway, I mean)

The house itself (no photos inside, but see here). It has great views over the Dart, as does the path we are walking up. I'm currently reading Agatha Christie's autobiography, which I now wish I had done before visiting. Highly recommended.

Any botanical experts?

View from the top of the grounds... so lucky with the weather today. Having arrived via Greenway Halt railway station, it really does seem like we are halfway back to Dartmouth!

View from outside the house (telephoto lens). Low tide...

After viewing the house itself, we took a much shorter route home. This is the rather lovely thatched cottage just behind the Greenway Ferry quay, which is only a short walk down from the house... and goes to Dartmouth main pier, not to Kingswear on the other side. The next day the weather seriously deteriorated, so this is the last photo that I took!

Kingsbridge, Devon (with visits to Salcombe, Buckfastleigh and Dartmouth)

[West Country visit continued from Part 3]

We stayed for a week in Kingsbridge (nearly the southern-most place in England) in a self-catering waterside apartment at Crabshell Quay (next to the very pleasant Crabshell Inn), together with our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.

It turned much colder when we arrived and a bit misty, with a poor weather forecast...

...however the the south coast micro-climate kept fighting back the bad weather (the view opposite our apartment, at high tide)

Kingsbridge is at the northern end of a tidal creek running south to the sea (passing Salcombe on the way)

While we were there, the difference between low and high tide was around 15 feet

Our apartment terrace - cool air, but a sun trap. Just below us, a narrow pedestrian path leads to the Crabshell Inn. That path runs along the edge of the quay, and has missing sections in the railing where vertical ladders descend towards the mud, sometimes more than 15 feet below... walking along it on a dark night, it's a good idea not to have had one drink too many!

The bad weather kept trying to arrive...

... and disappeared again...

... but the light was always beautiful!

Another day... tide's in... we're off to Salcombe, a few miles by car (in our case) or by boat (next time!)

We walked from Salcombe to North Sands, a mile or two along the edge of the coast. I think these boats were collecting crabs.

North Sands, where be found The Winking Prawn (a good seafood eatery that must be absolutely hotching in summer)

My spouse (a Devon lass) in her element

Next evening at Kingsbridge... weather still going to and fro...

A day trip to the Buckfast Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary, at Buckfastleigh on the south edge of Dartmoor. A tip for photographing otters is, bring a video camera! (50+ failed photos of fast-moving otters later...)

My daughter managed to catch this one!

It took my glasses (and camera) a long time to de-mist as we entered the tropical butterfly house...

Pupae all ready for next year (they turn the heat off shortly and everything hibernates until next season).

Back in Kingsbridge...

A visit to Overbeck's, a very nice little National Trust property on the top of a hill overlooking the sea, not far from North Sands. Another tip: you need a very small car with a short wheelbase for some of the roads around here!

Looking across the creek... my spouse wants to do the coastal walk on the far side...

This spot must be a geologist's paradise (see here)

Dartmouth, on the mouth of the River Dart (a river worth exploring in its own right), which rises on Dartmoor not far to the north
(I discovered that Dart is an ancient Celtic name meaning "river where oak trees grow" - and the oak trees are still flourishing)

A certain small person (nearly a year old) really enjoying her first boat trip (an hour's sightseeing up and down the Dart)

Is this cute, or what?

The Britannia Royal Naval College, attended by Royal Princes and my spouse's grandfather...

The Dartmouth Steam Railway... and not far from here is Greenway, Agatha Christie's holiday home, which you can visit by ferry from Dartmouth (among other ways)


Passing back through Dartmouth, the boat keeps going until it reaches the sea...

Dartmouth Castle, at the mouth of the estuary

Back in Dartmouth...

...where they were holding a wonderful Food Fair, including free cooking classes by celebrity chefs

Last evening in Kingsbridge... dusk light on the side creek

This is the wonderful Bearslake Inn, on the edge of Dartmoor, where we broke our journey last week on the way to Cornwall (see the centre of my map). It's a great place to have a drink, or a great meal, or to stay the night, or any combination of these!

Dartmoor from the bedroom window, in the evening light - the last time that we saw any real sun for a while...

The same view several days later, on the morning of our return trip. Now that our holiday is over, the mist is lifting and it's going to be a beautiful day...

[This trip continues in the post below.]
[This trip continues from the post above.]

One place that you can reach easily from the Bearslake Inn (see my post above) is the RHS Garden at Rosemoor (see the centre of my map). Rosemoor is a particularly beautiful and peaceful place, with natural woodland walks and replanted wild meadows, as well as some formal gardens.

It was a cloudy day (until we were about to leave, naturally). One day I hope to take some photos here when the sun is out!

We're about to leave... finally, a gleam of sun!

Many grand places have peacocks roaming around... Rosemoor is a little different!