Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset
Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

In The Wilderness

Great Britain may be small and relatively overcrowded, but you can still 'get away from it all' if you want to.

And these days, I seem to want to do that more and more. Sometimes I have a great need for solitude and serenity, which is why I treasure my solo trips away as much as I do those with my husband or friends.

There's an awful lot to be said for spending time alone with your own thoughts and self. If you've got a problem, getting away somewhere quiet is often the way to find a solution - in fact, there's been times when I've ended up wondering why I had been making such a fuss over nothing!

So, here are some places where you really can find a quiet spot 'far from the madding crowd' I've not included Ireland and Scotland at this point, because both of those places are renowned for their idyllic loneliness.



Blue Pool, Dorset

Yes, it's a tourist attraction, but hidden in a hollow away from the roads, and completely surrounded by trees, it's easy to find somewhere quiet, and marvel at the ever-changing colour of the water.




Chesil Beach, Dorset

This amazing bank of shingle stretches almost half the length of the coast of Dorset. At the Weymouth end, there's a car park, and a busy little cafe, and at the other, there's Abbotsbury, with its famous Swannery.

But in the middle, there's nothing. Well, maybe the odd fisherman, but at times, there's nobody. Walk out along the bank for a mile or so. You can't be reached by the holiday makers in their caravans, because they're the other side of the Fleet lagoon. There's just you and the seagulls.....


Brecon Beacons, Wales

There's a beautiful road that runs from Brecon towards Merthyr Tydfil, through the heart of the Beacons. Ignore the cafe, and the Verandah, with it's burger van, and find somewhere small to pull off the road. Walk just a few yards to where you can't be seen from the road, and relish in the quietness and the beauty.


Elan Valley, Wales

It always surprises me that so few of my friends have even heard of the Elan Valley. It's renowned for it's huge reservoirs and magnificent dams, and there's a visitor's centre, and a circular route from which you can see everything. Even so, take one of the little maintenance roads that lead off the main trail, and there's beauty everywhere. It's a grand place for watching the red kites swooping and soaring above the valleys.



Snowdonia National Park, Wales

Wales' largest national park has tourist areas aplenty, but it's still not hard to find a little tranquility and peace off the beaten track. What is it about sitting on the bank by water - whether sea, river or lake - that is so relaxing?



North Yorks Moors, North Yorkshire

Most bikers are familiar with the road from Pickering to Whitby, and they all know the big layby opposite the Hole Of Horcum - a favourite stop off for ice-cream!

Cross over the road, and look down. There's a huge hole in the ground. This is the Hole Of Horcum, a natural depression in the Moors. Everytime I go there, I'm amazed by the different colours, which change almost daily throughout the year. It's probably at its' prettiest when the purple heather is in bloom. There are walks around the rim, and down into the valley.



Of course, this is a huge area, and can be quite spectacular in its' solitude. Like all the high moors in the UK, it is sparsely populated, with narrow twisty roads, where you seem to spend most of your time dodging livestock!

This is the famous Ribblehead Viaduct, which just seems to grow out of the moorland for no reason, other than to make the view stunning.


Exmoor, Devon

Of the three high moors in the West Country, Exmoor is my favourite. Bodmin Moor is often grey and drizzly, and Dartmoor is oftimes overrun with tourists. OK, so you will probably have to stop and wait for that little posse of ponies to remove themselves from the road in front of you, but while you're waiting, just take in that vast expanse of sedge, bracken and heather. Take a deep breath of that cool clean air. Now, doesn't that feel better?


Of course, you can find a quiet spot anywhere - even in the middle of London, but there's much to be said for really getting away from the humdrum routine of daily living, and opening your mind to what could be.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Hermitage: This ...

For those of you who love England in the Spring and early summer, and for those of you living abroad, who wish you were back here, read Rima's words of magic..........

The Hermitage: This ...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

New Additions

Well, just come back from another trip away, so there are more pictures of both Yorkshire, and Norfolk. That was about 1500 miles across 8 days. Not as much mileage as we normally do, but that was mostly because we were using some very small, slow roads this time, and we had two wet days, where we couldn't really do much at all of any interest.

However, enjoy..............

Thursday, 3 June 2010

WARWICKSHIRE

Not far from the West Midlands geographically, most of Warwickshire is worlds away from it in spirit.

WARWICK CASTLE
The history stretches back almost 1,100 years. In 914AD Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, ordered the building of a 'burh' or an earthen rampart to protect the small hill top settlement of Warwick from Danish invaders.
It is now owned by the Tussauds Group, and is constantly being voted as England's Best Historic Attraction - a title it richly deserves.



WROXALL ABBEY
Now, this isn't a visitor's attraction, it's a hotel. However, it does have a good history behind it.
Once the country seat of Sir Christopher Wren, Wroxall boasts a magnificent collection of listed buildings and private grounds. The House itself, is beautiful. The stables and coach house have been sympathetically turned into further accommodation for the hotel. In the grounds, are a private chapel, and the ruins of Wroxall Abbey itself.
I had the pleasure of staying here a couple of times on business, and the hotel lived up to my expectation of how a country house hotel should be.
And it has a one-eyed cat called Nelson!




SUSSEX

Now split into East and West Sussex, I will treat it as it used to be - one county. I love Sussex. Whereas Kent suffers from the amount of traffic heading for the Channel crossings, which has resulted in two major motorways, and two major railways, Sussex doesn't suffer like that.

AMBERLEY MUSEUM
The site now occupied by the Museum was formerly the Amberley chalk pits. From the 1840s to the 1960s, chalk was quarried and burnt in kilns to make lime for mortar, for decorating and for agricultural use. A century ago the limeworks was one of the largest in the region.
The Museum contains chalk pits, kilns and buildings from this once important industry, as well as many other interesting exhibits.




ARUNDEL CASTLE
There are nearly 1,000 years of history at this great castle, situated in magnificent grounds overlooking the River Arun in West Sussex and built at the end of the 11th century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel.
Arundel Castle is now the home of The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk and their children. The Duke of Norfolk is the Premier Duke, the title having been conferred on Sir John Howard in 1483 by his friend King Richard III. The Dukedom has carried with it the hereditary office of Earl Marshal of England. This means that the Duke is in charge of state ceremonial such as the coronation and funeral of the sovereign and such occasions as the sovereign declares shall be a state occasion, e.g. the investiture of HRH The Prince of Wales and the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. Visitors often ask about the relationship of the English sovereign to the Dukes of Norfolk: they share a common ancestor in King Edward I (1239-1307) and also King Edward III (1312-1377). As Earl Marshal, the Duke is head of the College of Arms, founded in 1484, the official authority on heraldry and genealogy in England and Wales.





LEONARDSLEE
Leonardslee is a large house with extensive gardens, near Beding is Sussex. Until recently, it has been open to the public. The estate has the most beautiful gardens, a small motor museum, and the most impressive dollshouse exhibition, depicting a town and country estate in the Victorian era.
Sadly, the Loder family have sold the estate, and it will close to the public at the end of June 2010. What will happen to the 'Beyond The Dollshouse' exhibition is anyone's guess. It would be a tragic shame if it wasn't put somewhere where it can be seen and enjoyed by the public, as it is believed to be the largest anywhere in the world.










WEALD & DOWNLAND OPEN AIR MUSEUM
Situated at Singleton, near Chichester.
Set in 50 acres of beautiful Sussex countryside is a very special place to wander amongst a fascinating collection of nearly 50 historic buildings dating from the 13th to the 19th century, many with period gardens, together with farm animals, woodland walks and a picturesque lake.
Rescued from destruction, the buildings have been carefully dismantled, conserved and rebuilt to their original form and bring to life the homes, farmsteads and rural industries of the last 500 years.




SUFFOLK

The most easterly British county, Suffolk is mostly low-lying, and sometimes very windswept.

ALDEBURGH
A small place, Aldeburgh has become famous as the home of composer Benjamin Britten, and for Snape Maltings, with its superb concert hall. The River Alde at the Maltings is a haven for birdlife with its expansive estuary.




LAVENHAM

Most people are drawn to this attractive Suffolk town by the profusion of half-timbered medieval cottages, beloved of calendar photographers. Lavenham has been called "the most complete medieval town in Britain", a tribute to its fine collection of medieval and Tudor architecture. Mansions of wealthy merchants mingle with simple cottages, some of which mix crooked timber beams with sprightly pink-painted infill
It benefits from the fact that the road completely by-passes it, so there is little or no through-traffic.
The Guildhall was built in 1529, by the wool growers' Guild. Lavenham was famous for its' blue cloth stamped with a fleur-de-lys mark. The Guildhall became successively the town hall and then a gaol, although by then, it was in a poor state of repair. It is now beautifully restored.




WILTSHIRE

Another county easily reachable from Dorset, Wiltshire has been somewhat marred by huge tracts of Salisbury Plain being under the control of the MoD. It does though, contain what is probably our most revered Pagan and Druid site, Stonehenge, as well as delightful Salisbury and completely unspoilt Lacock.

LACOCK
Hardly surprising that Lacock has been used in such films and TV series as 'Pride and Predjudice' and 'Cranford'. The village is totally unspoilt. Even some of the pavements are not surfaced.










SALISBURY
The tall slender tower of Salisbury Cathedral can be seen for miles. The town itself is pretty too.




SOMERSET

Easily reachable from my beloved Dorset, Somerset is a beautiful county, with some fantastic tourist destinations.

BATH
What a lovely town! Full of elegant Regency buildings, and bisected by the river Avon, it's the jewel in Somerset's crown.

This is Pulteney Bridge, which is lined by a row of shops




the entrance to the Roman Baths


the Royal Crescent




CHEDDAR GORGE
The largest gorge in the British Isles, if you can see past the tourists, it's awe-inspiring.





GLASTONBURY
Apart from the usually muddy Glastonbury Festival, the town is home to Glastonbury Abbey and Glastonbury Tor.
The Abbey is right in the heart of the town, and has strong Arthurian links. Indeed, King Arthur is reputed to be buried there.
With its connections to the Legends, the mysticism surrounding it, and the Festival, the little town is full of some very strange shops, selling mystic artefacts and decidedly hippy-style clothing and such.
Still, it is a very pleasant place for all that.


This tree is supposedly descended from the tree that grew when Joseph of Arimathea planted his staff in the ground, and it took root and grew.






The reputed grave of King Arthur





WELLS
This has got to be my favourite cathedral. The complex of the cathedral, the Archbishop's Palace, and the Vicar's Close is somehow delicate and refined.

This is the Vicar's Close. The 'vicars' are actually the adult male choristors, and these are sort of 'grace & favour' houses.


the Archbishop's Palace is moated.