So after just finishing the Autumn Bank Holiday, I thought I would share with you my long weekend trip to part of the West Country. My friends and I decided to make the most of our last long weekend this year and escape London. We chose to go to Exeter, none of us had been before and the main reason to go was that a friend was moving there in three weeks to study a Masters degree and crazily had not visited the town.
We packed up my Peugeot 308 with four guys, luggage and a Frisbee (we were hopeful of some sun!), the drive from North London to Exeter was three and a half hours, the journey was comfortable for four grown men, so I can recommend the 308 for this trip. The drive to Exeter was largely motor ways, the M25 and M4 and surprisingly for a bank holiday the traffic was not too bad, just slowed slightly as we got closer to Somerset.
Once we arrived, we went straight to the Hotel to dump our bags and explore the city centre. I found Exeter to be a small town easy to walk around; it had plenty of the high street shops to bag a bargain, but no real boutique stores to explore. We found a nice little café on Cathedral Square for lunch with views of Exeter Cathedral dating back to 1114. Afterwards we headed down to the Quay to rent a canoe to explore the River Ex. I would definitely recommend that you book these in advance as they had a three day advance booking period, probably because it was a bank holiday weekend. We stayed around the Quays for dinner and ate at ‘On the Waterfront’ restaurant a Pizzeria. As a self proclaimed Pizza expert I would recommend visiting the restaurant, good pizza and good value. Staying in the area we headed to the local pub ‘The Prospect Inn’ which had a live band on in a large Marquee by the river.
The following day we decided to jump in the car and explore around the River Ex, we headed down to Exmouth, unfortunately the weather was overcast, so we did not spend long as the tide was in and with no sun the options were limited. So we decided to drive round to the other side of the river to Torquay. Torquay being a larger town had more to offer for an overcast day. We headed to the Barceló Imperial hotel and took the coastal walk, taking us above the English Riviera, even though it was cloudy the views were nice and it was peaceful away from the fruit machines and Ice cream shops.
Back in Exeter for the evening we ate at Michael Caines, a local restaurant also located on Cathedral Square and run by a local Michelin star chef, the meal was good, fresh local food and great value as they had a special promotion running. With no real plans we wandered around Exeter trying out the local pubs till we found one we liked. The ‘Old Fire House’ a pub that served local brewed ale, it had a nice chilled atmosphere, mainly lit with candles and seemed to be a very friendly crowd.
Last day of the long weekend and we hit the road early so we could stop of on the way back for lunch, we had the choice between Bristol and Bath, opting for Bath. Fortunately the journey was easy with barely any traffic till we hit Bath city centre. We managed to get parked although I can imagine if we had arrived much later than 2:30pm we would have struggled. After lunch we went to explore the city, unfortunately we did not have a great deal of time, but Bath is definitely on my list for a future visit and even with a brief experience I would recommend this for a weekend break, with great architecture, good pubs and restaurants and some nice looking shops and galleries.
So in three days we managed to discover a small fraction of the West Country and I know it has a lot more to offer, so would be interested in any tips for my next trip.