Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Familiarisation Stay in the West Country

I recently spent a few days in the West Country, on a familiarisation visit to see some of the tourist attractions in the area.

I travelled down by train (well, mostly by train) on the Tuesday. What I couldn`t predict was that the storm would destroy the railway line at Dawlish while I was on my way. This of course caused a lot of disruption, and some of the journey turnd out to be by coach.

When I arrived in Torquay, the storm was at its height, but I and some companions managed to get a taxi to the Devonshire Hotel, where we were to be based.

The Devonshire Hotel, run by the Daish`s company, is very good for groups, and has very good systems in place for dinner and breakfast.

After dinner on the first night, the wind kept howling and the rain kept lashing all through the night.

Undeterred, we got up on the Wednesday and had a full day by coach.

First we went to Paignton, and were shown around the zoo by one of the keepers. The zoo is on a hill, from which we could see the waves crashing in, higher than the houses.

From there we went on to Coleton Fishacre, the lovely house that was built for the D`Oyley Carte family. We had a lovely buffet style lunch, followed by a tour of the house.

Then it was back to Torquay, for a visit to Kents Cavern. We enjoyed a cream tea, then were treated to a fantastic tour underground.

On the Thursday, we had to leave early for a trip into Cornwall. Our first visit was to Bodelva and the amazing Eden Project, where, after coffee and a cake, we had a tour of the project itself.

We then went on to Tolgus, and an attraction known as Cornish Goldsmiths Treasure Park. We had an excellent buffet lunch, featuring Cornish food, before being let loose to look at the jewellery, gold and silver.

The last visit of the day was to Heligan, to enjoy the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The gardens were beautiful, and so was the tea room, where we again enjoyed a cream tea.

On the Friday, we first went to Seaton (Devon), for a ride on the Seaton Tramway. Not only did we enjoy the ride, but several of us (including myself) were able to drive the tram part of the way. At the other end, Colyton Station, we had an excellent buffet.

Then it was on to Powderham Castle, the seat of the Earls of Devon. We were given a tour of the castle, followed by a cream tea.

The last visit of the day was to Bygones at St. Marychurch, a village which is almost a suburb of Torquay. After coffee and cake, we were able to discover the fascinating collection of things which were once commonplace.

On the Saturday morning, we left the hotel and went by coach to Weston-super-Mare, for a group travel trade show. As always, I was able to chat with ,many friends old and new.

We were also able to visit Seaquarium, an attraction on the seafront with its own small pier.

Then it was time to go home, and once out of the West Country I accomplished the journey back to Leicester with no great difficulty.

It was an excellent few days.