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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Bus pass, boots and backpack Mark III - Part 2

Following on from my previous post here are days 3 and 4 of my bus pass trip.

Thanks to those of you who left such kind comments on the previous post. 

Day 3 - Kingsbridge to Dartmouth

I woke early again as the sun came streaming through the window and the birds were singing.  I had planned to do a short walk - supposed to take about 2 hours according to the leaflet - before setting off on the bus to Dartmouth.  I ate my breakfast, thinking how lovely it was not to have to prepare it (not that my normal breakfast requires much in the way of preparation) and to get up and leave it all for someone else to clear away, vacated my room and arranged to leave my bag to be picked up on my return from the walk and set off.

I fell at the first hurdle though as the telephone box I was meant to turn at was no longer where it should have been!  Luckily I was able to ask a young woman taking her little girl to school and she pointed me in the right direction!

It was pleasant walking early in the day before the sun was too high and the heat of the day would have made it too uncomfortable.

Around here I was lost again but again fortunately I was able to ask directions.

Now I was on what the leaflet described as a "rocky lane" cut deep into the steep Devon banks with foxgloves and other wildflowers growing along the way.  Along here I met a young woman with 3 dogs and we stopped to pass the time of day before I overtook her (one of the dogs was elderly otherwise I wouldn't have been able to walk faster than she could I'm sure!).

I turned left as the leaflet said and made my way down this steep and very rocky path glad I was wearing boots and not sandals!  But yet again I wasn't where the leaflet said I should be.  Luckily the young woman caught up with me and it seemed I would need to make my way back up the steep rocky slope to where I had gone wrong or I could curtail my walk, keep going the way I was and  finish up back in Kingsbridge.  As I could see I would not get back in time for the bus if I did try to finish the walk proper I decided to make my way back to the B&B, pick up my bag and call it a day!

Back in Kingsbridge the tide was well and truly in and the Quay did indeed look lovely!  The bus I was to get was the number 93 to Dartmouth  which was supposed to be particularly scenic.  If you click on the link you can see a YouTube video about the route (I can't figure out how to add it other than as a link!)  Bear in mind that I was taking the journey in the opposite direction to that of the video ie going towards Dartmouth rather than leaving from there.

It was indeed a scenic route ...

...with views of the sea across the green Devon countryside.  Many of the fields were pale gold in the sunshine some ridged with mounds of cut grass drying in the sun to make hay,  a few with bales already made and waiting to be collected and I saw some of the old fashioned rectangular bales we used to play on when I was a child and before the modern cylindrical ones became the norm - happy memories triggered of long hot summer days, air filled with golden dust and skin itchy from the scratches caused by the dried grass, of playing with binder twine, not the orange or blue nylon stuff but proper sisal twine, combing it and making it into plaits and so on.  More often these days the harvest is bagged up into black plastic encased cylinders, reminiscent of the plain liquorice sweets in a bag of Bassetts liquorice allsorts which always got left till the last, containing haylage since haymaking is a high risk endeavour in our climate needing as it does a long enough spell of dry weather with sunshine to dry it properly otherwise it might spontaneously combust in the barn.  The bus went along a narrow strip of land at Slapton which separates a freshwater lake from the sea - you can just see the road with the lake on its right in the photo above if you click on it to enlarge it.  Had it been a bit cooler I would have liked to get the bus back later in the day and have a walk here but there was no shade and I knew it would be too hot.  Slapton Sands is today a peaceful place but it wasn't always so and it is the site of a notorious exercise Operation Tiger which went tragically wrong back in 1944.

This is Blackpool Sands which is lovely, a privately owned beach which has kept the worst excesses of beach commercialism at bay apparently.  It did look nice apart from the large car park filled with shining cars radiating heat in the hot sunshine!

Now we began the descent into Dartmouth.....

...and I got off the bus here.

Once again my B&B was up a hill and by now it was lunchtime so very hot work climbing the long steep (or so it seemed!) hill. Having arrived at the B&B I found my room was on the top floor up 4 flights of stairs - I should be fit by the time I finish with this trip!

This is my view.  I settled in and had a welcome drink from the bottle of water provided before walking back to the town for a sandwich which I ate, along with the rest of the water, in the gardens near the waterfront.  Having eaten I set off to explore the town - it is well known for being the home of the Britannia Royal Naval College an imposing building high above the town which we had passed in the bus.  The town has many narrow streets with lots of art galleries and boutique shops along with the usual cafes and coffee shops.

 There were interesting looking old buildings as you can see.

And it is steeped in history.

I wandered round to Bayards Cove and discovered that as the plaque says ...

... the Mayflower along with the ill fated Speedwell had set sail from Southampton but put in here for repairs to Speedwell and then both set sail for America from here but sadly the Speedwell was forced to turn back some 300 miles off Lands End as she was considered unseaworthy.  There is also a fort  just here which was built in the 16th century to protect the Quay.

Now a ruin it offers views of the bay like this which reminded me of Sandsfoot Castle near Weymouth which I have written about here..

This is perhaps the quintessential photo of Dartmouth showing the buildings across the harbour and the Royal Hotel built in the 17th century whose rooms will set you back over £200 per night for a double room with river view so not suited to my budget!  Do check out the link though for more info on the area.

One of the narrow streets filled with little shops selling all sorts.

Having spent a very comfortable night and again slept like the proverbial log I was up early and packed and ready to leave straight after breakfast.  I got talking over breakfast to a lovely couple, maybe in their sixties, who came from Brisbane and who were also leaving that morning and offered to drive me down to the Embankment where I would get my next bus of this jaunt.  This was the garden where I ate lunch the day before looking lovely in the morning sunshine.

And the harbour again this time in the sunshine as it was morning rather than late afternoon.  For more on Dartmouth click on the link

This time I was to get this bus the Stagecoach Gold to Torquay.  You will note the bars on the front of the top deck - most of the double deckers in the area had these and you could see why when we plunged into tree tunnels and under overhanging branches!  The top deck needed some form of protection from the trees - it can't do the paintwork much good!  This bus was meant to be a little bit of luxury with hand stitched Italian leather seats and free wi-fi and  I see from the webpage that
Our chief executive Sir Brian Souter wanted to develop a product which gave something back to our loyal customer base. Our research had highlighted that key elements of the bus journey, including clean vehicles, friendly drivers, comfortable seats and pleasant surroundings contributed greatly to our customers overall journey experience.!  Surely we could reasonably expect clean vehicles and comfortable seats on any bus?  But maybe not.

Another pleasant route apart from long delays due to roadworks in Paignton - hope they get finished before the holiday season really gets into full swing.

I got off the bus at Torquay right outside Debenhams so I nipped in to make use of their facilities and took this photo from the window of the cafe - though I didn't buy anything to eat or drink.

I didn't have long to wait for the next bus on my itinerary the Number 11 to Teignmouth - take a ride with the video above.  (How is it that I have managed to add this video when I couldn't the earlier one?)

It is considered another of the lovliest routes in Devon and so it seemed.... we cross a bridge over the railway line which, a little further along at Dawlish, was so badly damaged in the winter storms - hard to imagine today isn't it?!

I liked Teignmouth - it seemed a more genteel sort of seaside than Torquay and I bought a sandwich and a drink and sat by the sea with my lunch under the beady eye of a seagull who was hoping I might share with him!

Leaving Teignmouth an hour or so later I got the last bus of my trip to Exeter this time our route at times was close to the Exe estuary.

Not long now till I reached Exeter where I had time for a cup of tea in John Lewis before making my way to the station for the train home.  The journey which had taken me about 4 hours on 3 different buses a few days earlier took me just an hour on the train and  Mr M was waiting at the station to pick me up.

I had thoroughly enjoyed my few days on my own in a stunning part of England with the added bonus of wall to wall sunshine and I can't wait to go again sometime.  I came home fired with interest in finding out more about the places I'd been and things I'd seen.  There was so much I now wanted to know and of course it not being far distant I can always go back another time to visit those places I wish I had been able to spend more time in.  I already plan to visit Dartington Hall again, to explore more of the beautiful grounds, for the day - and if I don't go by bus maybe Mr M will join me too.

Was there anything I'd do differently?  Well for a start I will buy a smaller, lighter backpack and cut right down on what I take - just a couple of pairs of clean knickers and a toothbrush perhaps!  I might stay in one place and go off out for days, if I can decide on somewhere to be based which has a good bus service to plenty of other places, as then I wouldn't have to carry the bag so much of the time and maybe I'd spend more time on foot and less on the bus another time but otherwise not really - I love the adventure of going by bus and it appeals to my penny pinching nature to be doing it for nothing with my bus pass!  Why would I want the worry of passports and insurance, flights delayed or cancelled, air traffic control strikes, foreign currency, language problems and so on when I can holiday right here?  It is a greener way to travel and my carbon footprint is kept to a minimum (I also got 5% of the price of my room at the Dartmoth B&B since I had not come by car!).  I love double decker bus travel when you can see over the tops of hedges, into peoples gardens and go to places you'd never visit by car and to let someone else do the driving whilst just sitting back and enjoying the ride is my idea of bliss. I found everyone so friendly and helpful too so here's to the next BBB trip.  If I get another trip worked out I might be able to fit in a September break perhaps before the evenings draw in and the days become short.  Now where is that map and those timetables?! Want to come with me?!


  1. I'd love to come with you! But maybe next time you could come and explore Cornwall? You certainly traversed some of my favourite parts of Devon on your journey.

  2. What a wonderful adventure. I particularly like Dartmouth, and the view from your room was wonderful. I like to be high up on a bus looking over walls as well. I know what you mean about travelling lightly. I cycled down through France, Spain and Morocco once, and I really took the bare minimum - it definitely helps. I'll look forward to reading about your next bus holiday. CJ xx

  3. Of course I want to come too, you know I love England ! Lovely trip but lugging that backpack would be the killer for me. I like the idea of stopping in one place as long as you can get around a bit.
    The Brisbane couple weren't Linda and Bob were they? I have friends who were traveling in the area recently !!

  4. What a wonderful trip! I would gladly accompany you if I didn't live so far away and had a bus pass! I thoroughly enjoy these posts Jane and think you should write a tour guide of getting about with your bus pass and backpack! x

  5. Great posts, I love Dartmouth my most favourite town
    Julie xxxxxx

  6. What a super tour, it really is a beautiful area. Thankk you for taking the time to show us.

  7. Yes please!! I would like to come with you!! Next time, you must do the boat trip from Dartmouth to Totnes (or the other way round, depending which way you are going!!) it is a simply delightful trip, have done it in hot sunshine and freezing wind, both good!!! I wonder which map you have got out now?!!!

  8. Jane, I've caught up by reading the whole trip in one go. What beautiful photos you've captured of it again. It has been wonderful to read and also be reminded of special places. It's years since I've been to Torquay but we've been to Teignmouth a couple of years running and I quite like to place . Roy and I had a lovely quiet afternoon on that promenade with an ice cream or two! Wherever you go next , it is obvious it will be planned with military precision.You make it sound as if that element of the trip is just as fascinating as doing the trip itself. I admire your tenacity for life and have enjoyed another 'virtual' tour with a great tour guide and a reminder about 'santosha' too. I still love that word!

  9. WOW what beautiful scenery. I think I have just added Dartmouth onto my list of places top go and explore! Thank you for sharing :)

  10. What a wonderful trip you took, thank you for sharing. I visited Dartmouth many years ago it was lovely to see the pictures and how little the place has changed :)

  11. I'm all behind here - it's a busy few days - but just had to say how much I've enjoyed all these posts - I really feel as if I've been out with you and you portray a wonderful sense of adventure and excitement. I hope you'll do another soon and write it up for us all to see and enjoy :)


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