The beginning of my Devon and Cornwall holiday begins in Ashburton. It’s been a while since I’ve seen my lovely friend, Lynn, but I don’t head to SW England very often. However, I booked my holiday early in the year when travel was still uncertain and immediately took the opportunity to include a visit to Lynn on my way to Cornwall.
It’s quite a long drive from London, about 4 hours, and I always take the A303 which takes me past Stonehenge. Sometimes the Satnav suggests a quicker journey is two sides of a triangle involving motorways but apart from preferring to take the much shorter journey in terms of miles, the A303 is such a pretty road and I can never resist a glimpse of the glorious Stonehenge – usually from a traffic jam!
Ashburton is an attractive town lying on the edge of Dartmoor with the sea not too far away in the opposite direction. Pretty pastel-coloured cottages sit around Mill Meadow where Lynn lives. Narrow winding streets pass elegant houses, granite cottages and enticing shops and places to eat. It’s quite a foodie place with an annual food festival and a cookery school.
I arrived early afternoon and Lynn suggested a short trip for a walk – both for us and her dog Millie. After a few hours in the car and excited to see my friend and be on holiday, this sounded a great idea. Lynn drove us through beautiful countryside with occasional glimpses of the sea until we reached Teignmouth. We parked and had a lovely walk along the seafront.
Back home, we celebrated being together with some prosecco and Lynn cooked us a lovely supper. All thoughts of going to bed at a reasonable hour were put aside when we saw we could watch the US Ladies Open Tennis Championship final featuring the British bright and brilliant star Emma Raducanu. Such was the excitement and brilliance of play we had to stay up and open more wine!
Despite going to bed on a wave of excitement following Raducanu’s historic win, I slept very well and Sunday began leisurely with breakfast and happy talk. I was content to leave Lynn to come up with ideas of what we might do and she suggested a visit the Coleton Fishacre, a National Trust place. This Art Deco house was built in the 1920s and was the home of the D’Oyly Carte family, the theatre impresarios famous for putting on Gilbert and Sullivan’s hugely popular operettas like The Mikado and Pirates of Penzance.
The house was beautifully preserved inside and I enjoyed looking round it.
Back outside, the gardens were lovely too with some wonderfully colourful borders, formal gardens and less formal walks.
Then we moved onto the very pretty riverside town of Dartmouth and home to the nation’s most prestigious naval college. I’ve been to Dartmouth before but never via a ferry from the other side of the River Dart. We drove onto the small ferry which could only take about four cars and a few pedestrians and slowly moved across the river.
Despite the greyness of the day, Dartmouth is still beautiful and lovely to wander round. We walked round the town, passing its chic little shops, wandering along narrow streets and then up to the ruins of an old castle which gave us great views.
From Dartmouth we headed back to Ashburton for a couple of hours of quiet time before going out for dinner. Lynn had booked a table at a nearby pub-restaurant – Furzeleigh Mill. It was in a beautiful location.
Inside the welcome was warm and friendly so we immediately relaxed and settled down to eat. I had a starter of chicken parfait; Lynn a Scotch egg made with black pudding which she said was delicious. She had mussels for her main while I opted for ‘posh fish and chips’ – battered sea bream, chips, peas and tartare sauce. It was simple but really good and fabulous chips.
Afterwards as we went back to the car the light was dying. The outside eating area looked very attractive but it had been too cold for us to choose that.
What a lovely day it had been. Not quite the weather I’d hoped for but warm and dry and after a few years absence from the area I was reminded how lovely it is. It’s good to be back in SW England.