Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

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

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


I like Devon, mostly because of its close proximity to Dorset!

As it says on the tin - at the mouth of the River Axe, which flows through Axminster down to the sea. Notable really only for the views across the estuary, and the birdlife contained therein.

Beer is a pretty seaside village built around a small cove on the south coast of the U.K. in East Devon.

Mostly notable for the ship which ran aground off its' coast, and the cargo of BMW motorcycles that were washed ashore! You can just see the remains of it in the distance in this picture.

Buckfast Abbey is a remarkable place. It is a monastic community, and it's free to look around. They keep bees, and sell products made from honey and beeswax, as well as items made by other monastic communities, both in the UK and France.
The bees are tended by Brother Adam, now in his 90s, who is a world authority on bee-keeping.
It's peaceful and tranquil.
There's several shops, and a restaurant that serves meals which are value for money. The excellent fish pie I had, was too large for me to finish.
The story of the abbey's existence is scarcely credible.
For Buckfast, the fateful day arrived on 25th February, 1539. It was on this day that the Abbey was destroyed by order of King Henry VIII.
Boniface Natter was blessed as Abbot on 24th February, 1903 - by pure coincidence, exactly 365 years after the closure of the medieval Abbey.
Abbot Natter was tragically drowned in a shipwreck in 1906. Anscar Vonier, who had been with Natter at the time of the shipwreck, managed to survive. Shortly after his return to Buckfast, Anscar Vonier was elected as the new Abbot.
Soon after becoming Abbot, Vonier announced to the community that his first project would be to rebuild the Abbey Church
The Abbey Church was built piecemeal, according to the funds available - but at no time did work come to a halt until the whole church was completed, thirty-two years later. The builders - normally only four monks, and never more than six - began with the east end, the sanctuary, transepts and two bays of the nave. At first, while funds were low, all the stone had to be cut and dressed by the monks. In later years, they were able to buy the stone ready-dressed from the quarries. Scaffolding was made from wooden poles, lashed together with ropes and chains. Stone was lifted with manual hoists or block and tackle.
The final stone was laid on the tower on 24th July, 1937, completing thirty-two years work.
And the result? Look here....................

Well, wouldn't you know it! Another Art Deco landmark. This is Burgh Island, which consists of the magnificent hotel, the Pilchard Inn, and a couple of houses. At low tide you can walk over the sandy spit to the Island. Or, you can take the unique sea tractor for about £1.50 each way. It's worth the experience.

Colyford is the halfway point on the Seaton Tramway (more of that later). It's worth getting off the tram and taking the short walk into the village. There's a tiny motor museum there in an old filling station, that is crammed full of automemorabilia.

The end of the line for the Seaton Tramway. I didn't go into the village, but hey, the terminus is pretty nice!

Dawlish is a strange mixture of seaside town, and beautiful gardens. Of course, it's famous for the fact that the mainline railway runs along the edge of the beach, but there is much to admire in the town itself.
The river cuts through the heart of the town, in a succession of little weirs, and it is surrounded by beautifully kept gardens, where there are often free concerts, and which provide an ideal spot for picnics.

The county town of Devon. A magnificent cathedral, and some interesting buildings, including the Guildhall. Also, the walk down by the river harbour is very pleasant in the warm Summer sunshine. There's a rope ferry across the river, which is unusual to say the least.

Probably my favourite of the three West Country moors, Exmoor is a bleak, windswept place, full of purple heather, and wild ponies.

This is just a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The tramway follows the Ax Estuary from Seaton to Colyton, an the world is full of herons, egrets, kingfishers and the like. They're all completely unphased by the trams rattling along, and stare back at you with a kind of bored expression, as they pose for the obligatory photographs.

Not a lot to say about Sidmouth actually. It was cold and windy when I went there, so I didn't really explore. However, I was fascinated by this effect in the sea. The cliffs around there are red, so this must be caused by detritus falling into the water. Stripey sea anyone?

I'm not going to portray Slapton Sands, and its' tragic events here. I've already covered it in my other blog.

Well, it's in Devon - just. This is where I stay. The Old Black Dog. Probably the best accommodation I stay in, bar none. Uplyme itself is a pretty place, but very hilly.

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