Thursday, December 5, 2013

Day 31: Devon

A poor night’s sleep, coupled with a nightmare about being late for the train, saw me staggering from my bed at 5:30am. I stuffed myself into my clothes, shoved a Nutella sandwich down my gullet and threw last minute items into my handbag and backpack. The hotel rang up at 6:03.

I hurried downstairs and leaped into the taxi, instructing, “London Paddington overground please.”

As it was not Sunday, I had the pleasure of being driven past Buckingham Palace (the road is closed on that day). £20 later (eek!), the driver disappeared, leaving me to discover that the entrance for the overground and underground was the same. I paid 30p to make use of the toilets near platforms 10-13 then waited on a freezing seat, surrounded by pigeons (one was missing a “foot”). 

My train was announced as ready to board so I clambered on and into my aisle seat. I had the window seat to myself and could have had my pick of any other seat in the sparsely inhabited carriage. I passed the time by reading a copy of Metro, napping, texting Mum and excitedly watching the water in Dawlish - in Coast, I have seen that part of the track swamped by waves! That did not happen today.

Jon picked me up at Newton Abbot and we chatted like old friends as he drove us to Dartmoor. He informed me that we would be seeing Haytor, the granite tor that is apparently the easiest to walk to. I unwisely joked that it sounded like "hater". Haytor clearly took offence because when we arrived beneath it, the wind shook the car and tried to barricade my door. Once outside, it was even worse. We fought our way up to the tor - and this is supposed to be the easiest to get to!? Gosh, I’m glad we didn’t try the others! 

Haytor exudes evil.

Horrendous gales blew us about, nearly knocking me into a pile of wild pony poo. It was hard to aim with the camera as my telescopic lens was battered from side to side. The tor and the surrounding hills were very picturesque. Jon says the wind has never been like that before.


It sprinkled when we arrived at Drogo Castle (after the satnav sent us down tiny country lanes). We only paid for access to the gardens - thank goodness. It turned out to only be 100 years old, a wannabe castle that served as a family residence. Gardens were so-so. But any photographer will know how to make the best out of Drogo Castle.

It shames the name Drogo!

We avoided the cafe queue (though I did not avoid the gift shop) and sped off for lunch at Berry Pomeroy Castle which was built in the 16th century. The sprinkling eased while we at the cafe; it rained heavily for a minute or two. After my green tea washed down my ham and brie sandwich, we purchased tickets at the English Heritage shack outside the castle ruins.

Berry Pomeroy Castle

We waved off the audio guides and entered through the gate. The moat was noticeably filled in. We roamed through the towers (they had well-designed slots for canons - I read in the guidebook later that these were made fifteen years before most castles starting using these slots instead of arrow slits).

The evolution of the arrow slit

I took photos of everything, including the exposed fireplaces and the graffiti. One such scrawl said “HELL”. The ghost of the White Lady did not grace us with her ghostly presence. A tooth-comb effect on a building signalled that instead falling to battle damage it had instead never been completed to begin with due to a lack of funds. 

Construction never finishes on time, no matter the century.

This castle was never able to stand up to attack. We left via the gift shop (ha!) and Jon then dropped me at the hotel. He did come in with me while I paid for the single room. There is no TV. I began this entry and napped.

Jon picked me up at 6pm and we had dinner near Paignton Pier before zipping next door to collect our tickets for an 8pm showing of Star Trek Into Darkness aka Star Trek XII!

Back to hotel. Sleepy. :)

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