In October 2019, we undertook the Friends’ seventh extended visit; this time to Devon.
We stayed at the Ilsington Country House hotel which was on the edge of Dartmoor and very comfortable. The restaurant has two AA Rosettes so we were served some excellent meals. Our group of forty filled the entire hotel so it was a very happy house party! The swimming pool was well used too!
Each day we travelled to places of interest in the area. A Red Coat city guide accompanied us on a tour of Exeter and we then enjoyed the rest of the day at leisure.
The next day was called Round Robin. We started in Paignton and journeyed on a steam train to Kingswear from where we took the ferry across the River Dart to Dartmouth. A couple of hours in Dartmouth enabled us to explore the quaint narrow streets and alleys all bedecked with flowers. When the tide was right we embarked on a boat for an hours leisurely journey up the river to Totnes. The sun shone and it was clear why this area is termed the Riviera!
Roadworks and a closed road over Dartmoor necessitated a change in plans on our fourth day. However we still enjoyed the calm and peace of Buckfast Abbey. It is hard to conceive that an abbey of such proportions was built by only six monks at the beginning of the twentieth century.
On the return journey we stopped in Swindon where a retired engineer showed us around “Steam”, the museum of the Great Western Railway. Housed in the old railway sheds, there are life sized mannekins as well as several locomotives. Although there was a shopping outlet in an adjacent building I don’t think anybody was tempted!
Posted by Jean Harrison.