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Published: August 8th 2007
On Saturday morning we headed to Devon for a long weekend. We had hired a rental car, and it took about 4 hours for us to drive down. We were stuck in traffic for probably a good hour, with everyone having the same idea as us to head to the coast for the weekend! We were on the motorway the entire way, so there was very little to look at scenery wise. We have also found that the radio stations here repeat the same news and the same songs over, and over and over, so we heard about the new outbreak of foot and mouth disease nearly the entire way.
When we arrived in Devon we were amazed by the scenery and small town atmosphere of the place. We drove straight into Dartmoor National Park (The Moor), along amazingly narrow country roads. The Moor was not at all what we would think of in New Zealand as a national park - it is wild, open, rugged country land with villages and farms scattered through it. We pulled up to park and were met by a group of wild ponies grazing along the road. We wandered out into The Moor, where
there were dozens more ponies, and walked up onto a pile of large rocks known as the Buckland Beacon. From the top we had an amazing 360 degree view of Devon. We could see out to the coast and inland to all the country side so we admired the view for a while. After this we were pretty hungry, and headed into the tiny town of Widecombe in the Moor where we had cream tea and scones!
We eventually decided to make our way to the hotel in Shaugh Prior, and navigated our way through the maze of tiny lanes. It makes for a slow journey when you get oncoming traffic - at times people even have to reverse to let others through a narrow point. Along the way were more wild sheep, goats and horses, often casually grazing on the roadside or even the road itself. We made it to the country hotel, feeling like we were in the middle of nowhere, and had an amazing view when we got there as the hotel is on a hill looking down over Devon and towards the Southern coast. We had a good dinner in the hotel restaurant, then spent
the rest of the evening in the bar chatting to the staff and locals (of which there doesn't seem to be many!).
On Sunday we headed off for the day to go sightseeing around the coast of Devon to some places that Brandt's boss (who lives in Devon) recommended. It was a really hot day (the hottest day of the year for most of the UK we heard on the radio and the hottest area was Devon), so great weather for the beach! We drove South through the gorgeous country side, making a bee-line for Salcombe where we ate lunch on the waterfront while watching the boats and beach goers on the other side of the narrow harbour. After lunch we drove east to Torcross beach. Brandt had a quick swim but it was freezing cold so we mainly just sat on the beach and relaxed for a while before heading back to our hotel via the coastal road, passing through the picturesque little coastal towns on the way. Just as we were arriving the weather clouded over and the fog came in, so we spent the rest of the night keeping warm in the hotel bar.
leaving the hotel on Monday morning, we returned to a walking track in the forest we had seen the day before near the hotel. We went for a bit of a walk and found there was a river running through the forest, as well as these really old bridges and hand made stone pathways up through the hills. We wandered around for a little bit then decided to visit the Sparkwell Wildlife Park on our way out of the National Park. The park was like Orana Park, but on a much smaller scale in terms of land size, but still good. We saw bears, wolves, lions, tigers, a jaguar, otters, monkeys as well as a whole lot of eagles and owls.
Eventually we decided we had better start the drive back to London, and sadly said goodbye to Devon. After another long drive (and the same radio news we'd been hearing all weekend) we made it home to London a bit after dinner time.
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