Plymouth, Exeter, Barnstable, Illfracombe, Minehead, Weston-super-mare, Cliveden and Bristol.

February 16, 2009

Plymouth to Bristol.

Plymouth. Plymouth’s only remaining prominent building is the Duke of Cornwall hotel the rest being flattened by German bombs. From there I took the ferry to Finisterre. The hills behind and adjacent to Plymouth gloomy and massing when seen from Plymouth Sound. There are little concrete facsimiles of the Royal Navy fleet on the curving harbour wall.
Exeter. Nothing to say about Exeter. (Passed through Exeter to Exmouth on a cycling trip over very steep inclines to Lyme Regis and Weymouth, years before. On Portland Bill are impressive forts and derelict stone quarries after a very steep winding climb, and a clear view of unfathomable Chesil Beach. )
From Exeter by train to Barnstable. From Barnstable market slip round the coast via Saunton Sands then remote Morte Bay and drop down into Illfracombe, Coombe Martin and Lynmouth. Leave Lynmouth on a long steep incline via Porlock to Minehead. Or traverse Exmoor via Simonsbath to Dunster.
Minehead’s main street is dark. Minehead is a kind of dead-end with Butlin’s thrown in. There is a posh Northfield Hotel tucked in the slopes of Exmoor flanking North Hill. Contrasts abound: To the east access along the sea shore is blocked by the hulk of Butlin‘s. From Watchet a steam train goes to Bishop’s Lydeard linked to Taunton. From Minehead via Kilve and Burnham-on-sea to Weston-super-mare. Burnham-on-sea’s a kiss-me-quick local Somerset resort. There is no way through from Brean Down to Weston-super-mare except perhaps across the beach at low tide. Stayed at the Royal Hotel.
Somerset men are/can be dismissive of strangers and/or slightly juvenile, even mad. Agricultural certainly. They were upset about the pier fire. The more gothic Birnbeck Pier also derelict. The tidal range here after La Ranche is the worlds greatest hence the frequent tidal Lidos and the height of Clivedon pier which used Brunel wraught iron meant for elsewhere. On Kewstoke Road there’s probably the best roadside tea shop in England nestling under Worlebury Hill but not highlighted on Google Earth.
From Weston-super-mare via Sand Bay and Clevedon cycle to Bristol over Avon Bridge and through Clifton. Theres only one way through from Wicks Lane, Wick St Lawrence to Yeo Bank lane involving crossing a gut and careful map reading. Its private land. Train to Paddington early Monday and apparently 15 minutes later a fire broke out in a kitchen and Weston-super-mare Grand Pier burned down.

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