South West England, Part 3

It was time for the wilderness now – moors, as they call the barren hills. Later, we found cider, a place called Beer and a touch of alternative mysteries.

Bodmin Moor first. Here we found The Hurlers Stone Circles, where we came across a little informal harvest ceremony in progress – or so we believe (oak leaves, bread and a splash of ale were left on the stone in the centre). We did not disturb, so we never discovered its true meaning. As we walked further up onto some large rocks, that were stacked on top of each other, we had an amazing view in every direction.

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The next day we drove into Dartmoor, or according to the map: Dartmoor Forest. However, the forest here is planted – in patches – and can not be said to cover the majority of the area. There are trails everywhere here and you can walk the length and breadth of the entire national park. We did walk up to the nearest Tor, were we almost blew away while we climbed around on the big rocks that are stacked on top of each other there.
Later we prepared for a night in the car park close by, in line with the Milky Way, which we could see as it was pitch dark. Needless to say we slept well here.

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It felt natural to head for the coast again. First to Kingsbridge where we had a short break, and then to Brixham where we stopped for a few hours. Fish and chips, street art by Banksy (?!), and a busy harbour in this small coastal town. Moving on to Dawlish, Beer (!) and into the New Forest N.P. in Dorset. On the way from Beer we saw a sign for a wine and cider farm close by. Of course we had to check it out. We found Lyme Bay Winery outside Whitford near Axminster. Tasting, discussing, deciding what to buy. We left there with a few bottles of scrumpy cider and a bottle of wine. Although England today is unknown for its wine, they are working on it. We stick to cider a little longer, (and Lyme Bay’s Jack Ratt scrumpy is tasty!).

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Whilst it was pouring with rain when we visited Beer, it was clear when we drove into the New Forest National Park. We drove off the highway west of Ringwood and two minutes later were surrounded by nature. There were several good trails around in the woods and they were well used, it seemed. There was plenty of activity here from scouts, elderly people jogging, dog owners and German language travel students who were having a sports day.

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We spent so many days here in the southwest, because we were going back to Bridgwater to visit the owners of the last house sit. We had two days left now before we had to be there, so we headed inland again, away from the rain clouds that threatened the coast and towards something more alternative. We crossed Salisbury Plain aiming for the crop circle pub, The Barge near Pewsey. We parked at the campsite here, got talking with some interesting camping neighbors and had our dinner at the pub. “Croppy” battered fish and chips and Area 51 cider. The crop circle we had considered visiting had already been harvested.

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As a taste of last year’s “alternative” roundtrip in the area, we popped by Glastonbury too. Joe wanted to walk up to the Tor. It was lovely up there. We sat down and relaxed with a great view and the warm afternoon sun. Looking west, towards the Quantock Hills. Kind of knowing this area now from our weeks in Somerset as house sitters.
An hour or so later we were on our way to Cheddar Gorge, where we wanted to park for the night. We had an evening walk to the Black Rock on the trails close by, before we crawled back into the Land Rover. The dinner was simple: “Soletraveller tapas”, including cheddar cheese (of course) and a glass of cider from the south. While we toasted, we saw two young men packing their bags for a camping trip in the area. – And don’t forget the Rizla papers, we heard one of them say. Soon the moon was shining down on us all. Peace, man!

 

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