We got up early to film outside the Churston Court Inn. Just as we were getting started, the St Mary’s church bells began to peal….fro 15 minutes straight! It was Sunday morning call to church, and it really worked! Car after car pulled in as church-goers answered the bells’ call. It was really beautiful to stand beside the ancient walls of the close overlooking a field with the inn and church to the side.
Liz and Mike who we met at Lands End had suggested we do a Round Robin train, boat, and bus trip based around Dartmouth. we only had time to do a boat ride, so we headed over to the mouth of the Dart river (at Dartmouth, of course) to catch our steamboat. To save 40 minutes, we were going to park in Kingswear and take a 5 minutes ferry across to Dartmouth. We plugged in the coordinates for the pedestrian ferry at Kingswear. But something seemed to go wrong…the SatNav kept telling us to “board ferry” in 1/2 mile, 800 feet, etc. And then, the road ended in the river. And this sort of floating road came across, we drove onto it, and it moved across the river! It costs about 5 pounds to cross, but it beats a 40 minutes drive around the estuary.
We arrived in Dartmouth and were charmed with its quint beauty and colorful buildings. The parking was free, too and very easy to find around the inner harbor. We located a kiosque offering the trip we wanted – an historic, coal-fired paddle wheel steamboat from 1924 called the Kingswear Castle. The 1 1/2 hour trip took us to the mouth of the river, where we saw Dartmouth Castle on on side and Kingswear on the other… a very protected riverway! Back past Dartmouth, we saw the Royal Naval Academy up on the hill. This is where QE II met Prince Phillip for the first time when she was 14! As we headed up the river, we passed other fishing villages, all very colorful. There were also areas of wilderness, with green hills rising and huge tree trunks making their way into the river. We saw seals popping their heads up to say hello along the way as well. After disembarking, we visited a few charity stores (always a favorite of ours) along the pedestrian street and had a lovely picnic lunch at a riverside park.
Crossing back over the Dart river via the floating road once again, we were onto our midway-to-London stop for the night.We had been planning the whole time to go to Brixham and feature it in the episode. We had stayed in Ilfracombe instead and we felt like we needed to at least get a couple shots of the harbor. This town has been marketed as part of “The British Riviera” but in our opinion Dartmouth is much for Riviera-like.
We had to take one of the M roads or motorways. Usually, these types of roads are the fastest way to get from point A to point B but every so often they can turn into parking lots. We had to get to our hotel for dinner before 9 so it was Heather and the Sat-Nav to the rescue! We exited the motorway and starting heading in the general direction of our hotel, eventually the Sat-Nav figured out what we were doing and re-routed us. BONUS! It took us through the village of Downton. Of course this is not the village that is used to film Downton Abbey, that village is in Oxfordshire and is called Bampton, but it was still fun to get a photo of the sign and have a little laugh over it.
After booking our hotel we realized that it was only 30 minutes from High Clere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed. However, it is a personal residence for the Earl and Countess of Carnavon and therefore, only open a few months out of the year. Tickets are pre-sold months in advance. They do say that there are a certain number of walk up tickets so tomorrow we are going to take our chances on getting in to see the house!
Dreaming of High Clere Castle,
Heather and Courtney