|The pastel houses in Kingswear,
seen from Dartmouth quay
As Rory has remained in Exeter for most of the summer, Dougie and I decided the only way we were going to ever see our student child was to take a trip to visit him instead. We turned it into a little holiday, staying at The Magdalen Chapter and doing touristy things instead of loading and unloading the boot of the car as we usually do.
The weather, having been glorious before our arrival, tried to scupper our plans but, despite the mist and drizzle, we headed west to Dartmouth, about an hour away. Conscious that many of these seaside towns are very busy in August, we did the decent thing, parking just out of town at the leisure centre and picking up the Park & Ride bus. We were joined by numerous tourists and locals plus a great many dogs. In most buses there is a large space for buggies and wheelchairs; this was taken up by a menagerie of pooches. I didn’t know whether this was ‘a thing’ in Dartmouth – Mutt on a Bus? Bark & Ride? – but it made for a jolly trip – some very sweet dogs and a slightly pungent wet dog aroma wafting up the aisle.
I had seen some wonderful photos online of the view from Dartmouth across the harbour to Kingswear with its beautiful pastel-painted houses. Our view wasn’t quite so clear and vibrant but it was still an impressive sight nonetheless.
|View of misty Kingswear from Dartmouth|
Walking along the embankment we came across Bayard’s Cove fort. We had read a plaque which told us that in 1620 the Mayflower and the Speedwell lay at anchor at Dartmouth en route to America. They needed to repair Speedwell which was leaking. Despite the repair, Speedwell didn’t live up to its name. It had to return to Plymouth when it was 300 miles off the coast of Land’s End. The Mayflower did continue its journey and the rest, as we say, is history.
Taking a photo from within the fort itself was, I think, worth the hunkering down on the wet gravel, don’t you think?
|View from inside Bayard’s Cove Fort|
Dartmouth proved to be a fantastic place for the four of us to potter. There were oodles of independent shops and lots of cafes and restaurants. Families were spending time successfully crabbing off the harbour walls – we preferred to mooch. The dreary weather was improved greatly by a fabulous steel orchestra playing in the band stand of Royal Avenue Gardens. The Pantonic All Stars, all the way from Stockport, provided a blast of the Caribbean to a damp day in Devon.
Having had a huge breakfast at the hotel, we didn’t need much for lunch and found the perfect menu at the Flavel Arts Centre. Home-made soup plus hot pork in a bun with apple and chilli sauce. Great service from two very hard-working young girls.. Always be on the look out for a local theatre/arts centre when you are in a strange town: more often than not the food will be good and the facilities (i.e. toilets) top notch (Trish’s top travelling tip number 204).
Dartmouth done (though in truth, we had only really scratched the surface of this pretty town and its surrounds) we jumped back on the bus. There was still a good chunk of the day left so we headed east to Babbacombe Model Village. I don’t know what it is about my family but we do have a thing about miniature villages. We loved the one in Bridlington but this miniature village was huge – there’s an oxymoron for you!
|Brilliant Babbacombe Model Village
(NB: the people you can see are real – this place is enormous)
With a castle, football stadium and zoo plus Stonehenge and The Shard, this was more than just a village. Four acres of beautifully landscaped gardens to explore, peering through tiny windows and laughing at the best puns you will ever see in one place. I give you the National Trust property Lord Elpus Hall; divorce lawyers Ditcher, Quick & Hyde; travel agent Andy Waywego and sports centre A. Kingbody.
To end the day we headed for Torquay, drove straight into the centre of town and actually found a parking place. Happy faces all round. It was nippy by this time so we didn’t wander for long, taking refuge in Rockfish, a superb seafood restaurant which has other branches in Brixham, Dartmouth and Plymouth. Seriously good fresh fish and chips, in a smart, trendy atmosphere. This was a hit with us, as we devoured hake, monkfish, calamari and prawns – with unlimited chips. Yes, unlimited. Cider was the perfect choice to wash it all down with – after all, we were in Devon.
|The interior of Rockfish restaurant, Torquay|