Our time in Exeter ia over and today, we drove on to Truro in Cornwall. We will spend the next week here exploring the county.
Our travel was less than 100 miles for the entire day, so we set our GPS on a much more adventurous setting – not the fastest route or the shortest route, but this time we chose the “Winding Route” For the first half of our day, it worked out rather well. We drove through Exeter and across Dartmoore. From there, things got interesting. We drove along narrow one lane laneways that we would ever have found ourselves. One was so narrow that our mirrors on both sides of the car were touching the hedgerows. Then we travelled by ferry from Devonport (near Plymouth) across the River Tamar as well as the ferry across the Fowey River to Fowey. It was a very interesting day but we simply ran out off time, so by 3.00 pm we switched back to the ‘Fastest Route’ and cut out some of the time that it would take us to reach Truro.
I would never have believed that roads could be this narrow – in fact it was hard to believe that this was actually a public road.
Our drive across Dartmoor was interesting. The scenery was a bit reminiscent of the high plains in Victoria – large open spaces, no trees and undulating country with hills topped by rock outcrops. At one place, we came across two historic stone bridges – a more modern one for the road and more ancient one for foot traffic.
In another open are, we caught a glimpse of some Dartmoor ponies. These semi feral horses have lived in south western England for centuries and are used for a variety of purposes. Because of the extreme weather conditions experienced on the moors, the Dartmoor is a particularly hardy breed with excellent stamina. Over the centuries it has been used as a working animal by local tin miners and quarry workers. Their numbers have declined from an estimated 25,800 in the 1930s to about 5,000 today.
One of the other interesting sights along the way was a view of Dartmoor Prison. It was originally built to house prisoners captured in the Napoleonic Wars but is still in use today. I guess that all prisons look to be very bleak, but this one is especially so.
We continued on driving and came across the seaside town of Looe. We actually drove (unintentionally) through the narrow streets of the old town but since we were already in the middle of pedestrians, I thought we might as well continue, so we did a loop to the quay and then back along the river bank to the main road.
The countryside is very scenic and we are looking forward to seeing more of it. One of the interesting things we came across were a number of crosses by the roadside. Crosses carved from stone are obviously used as memorials. However, in the more remote areas of England, ancient stone crosses with no clear memorial function are found not only in churchyards but also beside the road, often at junctions. It seems that these wayside crosses were probably placed on pilgrimage routes, particularly between monasteries and holy sites.They may also have been used mark church paths to guide parishioners or pallbearers to the main church in a town.