This is a third person account of Christine and Nancy's trip to England in May 2001. They left Chicago via American Airlines and had an acceptable flight to Manchester, England, with an hour and ten minute take off delay at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
The first part of their trip was to visit a friend of Nancy's in Clitheroe, Lancashire. The friend had been sick and they were met at Manchester Airport by their friend's daughters.
In order to combat "jet-lag" they went walking around the town in the sun and stayed up as late as possible, no naps. They slept as long as they could the next morning, only rising when the maid informed them that she "was going home". After many trips we believe this is the only way to quickly adjust to the European time after traveling overnight from the USA.
Christine and Nancy stayed at the Old Post House Hotel in Clitheroe, visited with their friend and her family and toured the area for three days. They had purchased a 4 day British Rail Pass in the USA and left on Monday, a Bank Holiday, for a 9 hour trip to Penzance. They were given a ride to Preston, a main line station, and caught the 11:33 train direct to Penzance. It was a long trip and they bought sandwiches on the train.
Because of several delays, they didn't arrive in Penzance until 18:25 and the tourist information desk at the station was closed. They walked up to a cabdriver and asked him to take them to an area where there were B&Bs and he took them down to the seafront. He offered to wait but Christine said there were so many B&Bs that they didn't think they would have a problem.
They chose the Chy an Mor B&B because it looked nice and was no smoking. After inspecting the room they went out to a local Italian restaurant.
The next morning they walked to the bus station and took the 9:30 bus (#1) to Land's End for £3.30 return (that's round trip). You pay on the bus. Land's End has changed since Christine was last here in the mid 80's and there is a little "village" of souvenir shops.
They took the 12:10 bus back to Penzance. Some shopping in Penzance and then to dinner at the Turk's Head Pub when Christine had some red wine and a cold chicken salad. Cold salads are good in the pub as they usually contain several different cold salads, a light meal. A walk after dinner along the seafront and they stopped to watch some lawn bowling before returning to the Chy an Mor B&B. It was light out until past 22:00.
They were up early on Wednesday to have breakfast and catch the 8:1 train to St. Austell to visit the Eden Project. The Eden Project is new and consists of 2 domes with plants inside. The fare from St. Austell by bus was £11.75 and included admission with the round trip bus trip. Christine said the Eden Project will be nice in 2 years when the plants fill up the domes. After walking around St. Austell they retuned to Penzance and dinner at the Admiral Benbow Inn. Christine liked this pub with its nautical motif. They stayed 4 nights in Penzance rather than the 2 they had planned because they were having a good time making day trips.
On Thursday they had breakfast later, walked to the bus station and took the bus to the National Trust Gardens at Trengwainton. This walled garden contains many plants that cannot be grown elsewhere in Britain like palms and bamboo. They arrived at the gardens at 9:30 and had to wait until 10:00 to enter. They walked back to Penzance, about 1.5 miles.
In Penzance they took the 13:05 bus to St. Michaels Mount. The bus took a detour back to the bus station to change drivers. The other passengers on the bus, after learning where the Americans were going, made sure that they did not miss the stop for St. Michael's Mount. The tide was out so they walked across the causeway. By then they were hungry so they ate outside with a nice view of the bay. They described the gardens as "spectacular", worth a visit. The cost was £4.50 with another £1 for the boat ride back as the tide had come in and the causeway was under water.
A bus back to Penzance and dinner at the Admiral Benbow Inn again. This evening they just ordered a bunch of "starters" and shared. Christine tells how she wanted to order a piece of cake for "take away" and the girl brought it to her on a plate with the request that she return the plate the next day.
Christine noted in her diary that the bus system was very good with schedules at the bus stands. They had no problems in this area and since we usually rent a car, this was a new experience for her. Christine always keeps a diary when she travels or these stories would not be possible. After a few trips it's impossible to remember "where the pub was", "what the name of the pub was" or anything else unless you keep a diary. We have also found that writing in a diary forces you to stop occasionally and take a coffee or tea break. Christine and Nancy had no definite plans between Clitheroe and London and only had reservations in London with the reservations in Clitheroe being made by friends. This, with the 4 day British Rail Pass, gave them some flexibility.
They paid the bill the night before and left the Chy an Mor right after breakfast, walked to the train station, stopped to buy sandwiches to eat on the train, and took the train to Exeter. In Exeter, they took a bus to the main bus station and had tea outside while they waited for the bus to Chagford. They took the #173 bus for £2.40 to the center of Chagford and walked to the Glendarah House B&B where they were the only guests. Christine had phoned from Penzance to reserve a room.
It was time for dinner so they walked into town to the Ring O'Bells Pub. One disadvantage to train/bus travel is that it will take a full day to travel from one place to the next even though they are relatively close as the bus and train schedules are not always well coordinated.
The next day they walked a lot. Starting out on the road to Castle Drogo, a tour of the castle, a hat purchase in the gift shop for Christine as the sun was hot, and a walk along the Hunter's Path to Fingle Bridge. This was one of the only paths open in Devon and they were lucky. They had lunch outside at the Angler's Rest Pub at Fingle Bridge and walked past Fingle Bridge for about 30 minutes. They took the Fisherman's Path back from Fingle Bridge to Drogo Castle but it was hard climbing up the hill as the regular path from the Fisherman's Path to the Hunter's Path was closed and there was a "diversion" straight up the side of the cliff. They stopped at Drogo Castle for some water and a rest and then walked along the road back to the Glendarah house. On their walk they had to walk through several disinfectant points on the road.
They were quite tired by this time and after at the Ring O'Bells again, they were in bed by 9:30 PM. The next day, Sunday, they walked into Chagford and looked around stopping at the house of our friends Peg and Alec who immediately invited them for tea and dinner that night. A walk along the road towards Gidleigh park and back to Chagford for lunch at the Three Crowns Inn. A walk back to the Glendarah House and Christine called the local taxi to arrange a ride out into Dartmoor for later in the afternoon. The taxi driver charged £30 for about 1.5 hour ride which gave Nancy a chance to see the moors. You couldn't stop and the parking places were closed. They enjoyed the drive and the driver pointed out a number of sites, well worth the money according to Christine.
While walking through Chagford Christine saw a sigh in a house window that said: "We cannot accept any injured birds." Christine was carrying her hat in her hand and as they walked away a woman came out of the house to ask if she had an injured bird in her hat? Christine said no. Later, Peg and Alec told her how the woman takes in injured birds but not had her mother living with her and was unable to continue taking them in.
Dinner with our friends Peg and Alec at their house was excellent, according to Christine. After an enjoyable evening, they walked back to the Glendarah House and a good night's rest. After breakfast on Monday morning the owner told tehm they could just wait in front and flag down the bus but they didn't want to take the chance so he gave them a ride into town where they catch the 9:30AM bus to Exeter and they were in London by 13:30. They took the Tube from Paddington Station in London to Euston where they walked to the Euro Hotel. After checking in the hotel they had lunch outside at a place called Chives near Woburn Place and then walked to Oxford/Regent for some shopping.
Dinner on Monday was outside at the Spagetti House at the corner of Southhampton Way, Theobalds Road/Bloomsbury Way. After the countryside, London was crowded and noisy but there was a lot to do.
After a nice breakfast at the Euro Hotel, which Christine liked, they were off to Lambeth Gardens, St. Mary of Lambeth Church and garden museum. At these gardens they learned about the first expeditions England sent out around the world to collect seeds. They had lunch in tea room inside the church where Captain Bligh from the Mutiny on the Bounty was buried. From Lambeth they walked along the Embankment full of people sunning themselves to Somerset House to visit the Courtauld Gallery (Impressionist Exhibit) and then to the Arthur Gilbert Collection of Micro-Mosaics. Christine liked this exhibit of an artform known as "pietra dura". Small stones set to make micro pictures of such detail that she describes it as "mind boggling". They also had several exhibits of snuff boxes and gold and silver miniatures. They stopped at a coffee shop on Southhampton Row and then to an Indian Restaurant for dinner. Christine mentioned that coffee shops are now all over London, even much more than before.
Wednesday was the last full day and it rained so after breakfast they took the Tube (North Line) to Archway and #210 bus to Kenwood House in Hampstead. This house was owned by the Guinness Brewery family and contains a lot of Dutch paintings and portraits by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Van Dyck and Rembrandt. They had lunch outside in the Brewery Café tea garden. Took the bus back and went to Harrod's department store where they again stopped for coffee. Took the Tube back to Russell Square, back to the room to freshen up and then to a Greek Restaurant on the east side of Woburn Place just north of Bernard Street, the only bad meal of the trip.
Luckily, they had bought some chocolate fudge cake for dessert back at the room. On Thursday they walked over to Safeway after breakfast and bought some cheese to take home. It was cold and windy and they took the Tube to Heathrow, cost £3.60 one way. A nice flight home on American Airlines from Terminal 3 and in Chicago they were asked at the Immigration Desk if they had been at a B&B and they said yes. This got them turned over to the Department of Agriculture who cleaned their boots. Now I'm not sure how the question of just being at a B&B involves the worry over the Foot and Mouth disease but they were out in the country so they should have been selected just for that alone.
The main point of this travelogue is that the two ladies traveled on public transport (trains, buses, and taxis) without much advance planning. They had a British Rail Pass for travel of 4 days in 2 months. They were able to travel and make their plans as they went along. They had originally planned on visiting Lynton and Lynmouth on the north coast of Devon but changed plans when they were having such a good time in Penzance. This eliminated a wasted day of travel and gave them more time in an area they had become familiar with. They were even able to visit Dartmoor, an area most people think you can only visit with a car.