South West

Places to visit and things of interest in South West England.  The South West of England is often seen as England’s holiday destination: Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, with their dramatic cliffs and family-friendly beaches; Bath and the pretty Cotswolds – top destinations for overseas visitors, along with Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral.  Dorset is home to the Jurassic coast and, in fact, there is a coastal path stretching 630 miles between Dorset and Somerset. Our prehistoric ancestors have left their mark in many places besides Stonehenge, and the region also has more than its fair share of castles, stately homes and world-class museums, including the Tank and Fleet Air Arm Museums and Tate St Ives.  There are two national parks – Dartmoor and Exmoor, upland areas consisting almost entirely of dramatic moorland.

The enigma of Silbury Hill

Silbury Hill, prehistoric, Wiltshire

Silbury Hill is so regular in shape, so obviously artificial; yet it is large enough to be a natural feature. It stands some 130 feet (39.6 metres) high with a circumference at its base of about 1,640 feet (500 metres) – and is Europe’s largest manmade prehistoric mound. You will find Silbury in the midst …

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A journey to Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, Britain

Legendary Britain is a more illusive place than it once was.  But there are still places where it is sometimes hard to tell where fact ends and fiction begins.  Mysterious Glastonbury Tor, a natural feature rising some 500 feet above the watery Somerset Levels, has been a sacred site since before the Romans came.  It …

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A visit to Montacute House

Montacute House, Somerset, east side

It couldn’t decide whether to shower or shine, the day we went to Montacute; so it compromised and did a little of both.  A tour of the grounds was on offer, which started well enough until rain stopped play.  Our party initially huddled together by mutual agreement, near the café, sheltered from the weather; but …

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Berry Pomeroy Castle

Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon, haunted

Is Berry Pomeroy one of the most haunted castles in Britain? It seems that either the white or the blue woman-spirit will get you.  The White Lady is reputed to be the ghost of the beautiful Lady Margaret Pomeroy, imprisoned by her jealous (and less attractive) sister Eleanor for the crime of being in love …

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The dastardly shooting of Lorna

Exmoor, Lorna Doone

The Victorian novel, “Lorna Doone – a Romance of Exmoor”, is generally assumed to be a work of fiction, set in a stunning location on the borders of Devon and Somerset and against the turbulent historical backdrop of the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685.  Yet some believe that the author, R D Blackmore, drew upon illusive …

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West Kennet Long Barrow

West Kennet Long Barrow

Tumuli, tombs or burial chambers, in varying shapes and sizes, litter the British Isles.  Long barrows are (roughly) rectangular tumuli, ranging from about 60 feet to more than 300 (28 – 100 metres) in length, usually with a stone (or wood) burial chamber at one end, the whole covered with soil and rubble dug from …

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Tarr Steps

Tarr Steps, ancient clapper bridge in Somerset

The Devil was a busy little bee in days gone by.  Some might say he still is, but in any event he crops up all over the British landscape – including at the Tarr Steps, a famous clapper bridge over the river Barle, Somerset, in the Exmoor National Park.  Clapper bridges, river crossings of dry-stone …

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Lulworth & Durdle

Lulworth & Durdle sounds like a law firm.  Commissioners for oaths; adversarial specialists; rip-off fees; incompetence guaranteed – that sort of thing.  I have known at least four firms that should have been called Bungle, Overcharge & Obfuscate. Anyway, close by the Dorset village of West Lulworth on England’s Jurassic south coast is Lulworth Cove.  …

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Britain’s National Parks

Lake District National Park

We all know what a national park is.  Although definitions vary, they are usually rural areas of natural (or naturalised) beauty designated as ‘special’ in some way by their national governments.  Normally, the environment within a national park, including its flora and fauna, are protected and there are particular rules about what you can, and …

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Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock

Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock

Burton Bradstock was on the List of Places to See in Dorset.  The National Trust guidebook tempted us to visit the beach which, as you may have gathered, is not called Burton Bradstock at all.  Burton Bradstock is a ridiculously pretty looking village and the beach, Hive Beach, is a little farther on.  Unfortunately, it …

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