Back up the West Coast

10 Jan

Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, North Somerset, Bath, East Somerset, Wilkshire, London

We began our journey northwards through some beautiful, fertile, vegetable growing areas that went on for miles.  The majority of the crops looked like brassicas and either leeks or onions, not sure which. 

I wonder which way the wind blows around here

Makes a welcome change

Every so often a you get a surprise, this is in St. Ives

Deciding where we would spend the next night was easy, once we looked at the map.  There is a small settlement called Lynton, and another village less than a mile away on the sea front, called Lynmouth.  No doubt you have picked up on the similar names around this coast, they all seem to ending in “mouth” meaning it is at the particular river mouth.  Lynton and Lynmouth were so beautiful!  We parked up in a long, narrow section of public parking area with just a seawall between us and the water.  We thought we should pay for parking there all night (quite a few do have this on the Pay and Display machines) but when we tried to feed the meter found that for three-quarters of the parking lot they had plastic covers on the machines until, you guessed it, Easter 2012!  So we had a comfortable night for free.  When we first got there you could clearly see a large suspension bridge and lights of a large city across the bay in Wales but by morning it was all mist, rain and low cloud and you could hardly see out past the waves.  Sometimes it takes the Navman AGES to register its current position before it will finally tell us which way to travel.  This particular morning we got a bit impatient with waiting and decided on our own way forward but of course we chose incorrectly and instead of sticking to the coastal route we ended up in the middle of Exmoor Forest, which actually has very few trees!  We came across a herd of wild ponies, much like the horses around Mt Ruapehu in NZ, we had been wondering why there were so many cattle stops on the road.  This entire location was so reminiscent of that whole area around the Desert Road it was quite strange.  The same sort of foliage, low clouds and no one around for miles.

Lynmouth so pretty even in shocking weather

Lynmouth's hotel was built in the 14th century

Exmoor Forest - low visibility

Took a detour to view Arthur's Stone but it won't reopen till Easter 2012

A yacht named Isis tied up in Bristol

The following night we stayed at the Bristol Caravan Club site.  We arrived in town around 5p.m and of course it was dark already.  We were parked on what seemed to be an island in the middle of the city.  Bristol was a very old ship building city and they have the city interwoven with the many docks, locks and channels of the Avon River.  It is beautiful.  It reminded us of Wellington , NZ, except prettier!  Lots of canal boats tied up for the night, floating restaurants, sightseeing boats, yachts as well as the commercial fishing boats and ferries.  It takes a few hours but you can walk around all these water ways, over connecting bridges  and walkways.  Really lovely.  We found another museum and much to the extreme delight of Dennis found that this was dedicated to his hero and his ship building endeavours!  If any of you have been in Dennis’ company for more than a few hours, he has probably thrust his favourite book into your hands, extolling the virtues of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  (The book is “The Great Eastern”)  The museum was closed but no worries we will be back tomorrow.  So at 10a.m. we were allowed entry to the SS Great Britain and it’s associated display.

The SS Great Britain was the first ship to be built of steel and the engineer in charge was Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  He was a famous engineer in the early 1800’s.  He designed and built trains, dockyards, lighthouses and bridges, as well as ships.  Anyway, this particular ship was scuttled off the coast in the Falkland Islands for 33 years before being salvaged and brought back to Bristol, it’s home port, in 1970.  Since then they have been restoring her and she is now displayed to great effect.  Really this museum is the best I have seen!  I would recommend that you visit the website to get a real feel for this project.

The ship sits in a shallow pool that looks like the sea, but really it's a dry dock

The cabins had mannequins depicting various scenes, along with appropriate aromas! e.g. this shows a newborn, with the smell of antiseptic. The butchers place smelt awful!

However this lady is real, playing ol' time tunes in the ballroom and she doesn't smell at all

Under the sealed pool of water they pump in dried air to lessen further deterioration

Dennis, my hero, with his hero

Just alongside the dry dock where SS Great Britain was kept, we found “Matthew” a working replica of John Cabot’s caravel.  One sailor was aboard and happy to talk to Dennis for ages… They use this one for educational purposes, similar to Spirit Of Adventure in NZ, and private parties, e.g. stag dos. 

Yah! Brisol has coloured houses, not just brick ones!!

The Matthew

After all this excitement we walked back to our trusty motorhome.  We took a “wrong” turning and walked beside another dry dock, where workmen were welding a paddle streamer!  They are building this ship from scratch and we stood for a while admiring it and taking photos.  Just as we were about to move off, Dennis read a small sign attached to the fence.  They were advertising for more workers for three or four months.  Well, that was exciting!  Dennis pushed open the gate and ignoring the signs saying NO ENTRY we walked down the path and found the man who was advertising the vacancies.  And then Dennis had an interview on the spot, the guy was pretty keen and so was Dennis!  Dennis had said to me months before that his dream job would be to work on boat building, so you never know.  We expect an email from them in the New Year.

Even apartments can have a wee garden

The Paddle Steamer


Clifton Suspension Bridge

So nice to see coloured houses in Bristol!

Beautiful bridge in Bristol

Next stop was Bath.  We hunted high and low for a suitable place to park for the night and finally found one empty parking place, up a small alley in an industrial area.  Of course by 5p.m it is very dark so we didn’t really notice what was on top of the steep bank right next to us, but it didn’t take very long to find out.  It was the main trunk railway line and trains whizzed passed right next to us all night!  Nevermind it was free.     

We spend quite a few hours wandering around the Roman Baths in Bath.  Included with the ticket price was a comprehensive audio guided tour.  This is a great way to learn heaps, without having to fight your way through the crowds to read small educational signs.  We seemed to have just entered the attraction when a bus load or two of Asian tourists came in behind us, and they were obviously on a tight time frame.  They pushed and prodded everyone else aside to get a better view and took many, many photos!  So standing back and listening to the head-piece was a real bonus in this situation.  The hot water is not heated by underground thermal activity (which was my assumption) but rather heated because the flow is so deep inside the earth, as a consequence it has no smell. The pools are green from algae now because the roof has been destroyed, back in the day when the baths were actually used the water was crystal clear.  Just down the road a little way there are still public hospitals that use this warm water for treatment.  All in all, it is a fascinating place to visit, all the more extraordinary when you consider this site has a history of more than 2000 years!  The weather was wet, cold and very grey.  I think that detracted from the overall experience of Bath.  We had been heard that Bath is so beautiful, a must see place, but we were slightly disappointed.  When the majority of the buildings are made of stone, having dull weather makes everything look quite drab unfortunately.  I do miss colour, even different coloured front doors would be great, not just black ones.

Cross section of how they made the bricks for the roof

Roman Baths with the Bath Abbey in the background

The original plumbing is still in use today. This drains into the Avon River

After the tour around Bath and it’s environs, we took the M4 back to Rob’s place.  We were due to travel up to Edinburgh and I needed a day or so to do the laundry and other mundane things.


One Response to “Back up the West Coast”

  1. Leen January 11, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    Great to read this chapter of the Bartlett walkabout – penned by the birthday girl herself. We do hope that you had a special day on your birthday Janette, or was it the laundry and other housekeeping? We certainly thought of you yesterday & wished you well.
    Thanks for the photos which add nicely to the diary and give us a snippet of what you are visiting and seeing.
    All’s well in Meeanee and we are looking forward to the trip to Nelson which is coming up soon.
    Blessing to you both

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