Devon, Cornwall and Wales questions

Old Nov 15th, 2023, 05:48 PM
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Devon, Cornwall and Wales questions

Well we haven't been back to the UK since 2019 and pre pandemic. We are so looking forward to our visit and I have done lots of reading but Fodorites always have great helpful information.

After some time in France, we fly in to London Gatwick, mid May on a Saturday. We wish to hire a car and drive to Devon/Cormwall area and maybe some of Wales.
Our flight arrives at 1.30 so after picking up our car we will drive towards that area.

Trying to decide which route to take we will have 2 weeks and yes I know I will probably have to cull some places. We will fly out of Heathrow on the morning of the 2nd june. So will stay somewhere at Heathrow on the night of 1st June and hand the car back in.

This is our wish list, in no particular order:
Cheddar gorge
Cockington
Lynton and Lynmouth
Lustleigh village
Branscombe
Port Isaac (Doc Martin fans)
Penzance
Polperro
or other Cornwall areas.

We had thought of south Wales but realise something will have to go

The more I read the more I don't know. We had thought of just free wheeling it and booking as we go but late May may be busy?
Should we head south west from Gatwick and do Cornwall first and then head north up through Devon?

I value you opinions and suggestions.


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Old Nov 15th, 2023, 06:38 PM
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Free wheeling it is seldom a good idea in Cornwall/Devon . . . and especially not at the end of May due to the Bank Holiday. You probably should book any accommodations from 24 May through 27 May several months ahead.

It looks like you have 13 usable days (not counting your arrival Saturday) til you want to be near LHR on 1 June. If it was me I'd probably do a loop first from LGW to the South Coast, through Hampshire/Dorset/the Jurassic Coast, then down along the south Devon coast/Dartmoor, then into Cornwall, then north Devon/Exmoor - to the Bath area and on to LHR.
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Old Nov 15th, 2023, 11:10 PM
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Thanks janisj for your suggestions.
Thanks for the Bank holiday dates, I will make sure I book those dates as soon as possible.

Your route suggestion is most appreciated. Have you any suggestions for a stop along the way from Gatwick or is a drive to The Dorset area a possibility from Gatwick on our 1st day?

The more I research the more wonderful places pop up. Is a visit to Dartmouth worth including?
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 12:17 AM
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From LGW to somewhere near Dorchester/Durdle Door would take maybe 3 hours unless you hit heavy traffic.

Its been ages (decades) since I was in Dartmouth so can't really help that much. Last time I stayed in South Devon it was farther west in Hope Cove (near Salcombe/Kingsbridge) and didn't go into Dartmouth.
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 12:58 AM
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Unless you are flying in from continental Europe please don't fly and drive.

Getting to Devon or Cornwall can be a very tough drive. Doing it with a hint of jet lag would be murder

This isn't about the driver's skill, experience, toughness it is about road safety.

Check in, grab a shower, see some sights, a good nights sleep and start in the morning.

The UK has some of the world's safest road stats, lets keep it that way
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 01:19 AM
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Last week of May is also half-term break for English and Welsh schools, so Cornwall and Devon will be busy.
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 02:42 AM
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Thanks janisj and bilboburgler for your replies.

Bilboburgler we are flying in from France after spending some time in Europe. Our flight is just over an hour. We are also Aussies so we are used to driving on the lefthand side of the road.
Yes Janisj somewhere near Durdle door would be great. As we arrive on a Saturday, I will have to get looking straight away.
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by aussie_10
Thanks janisj and bilboburgler for your replies.

Bilboburgler we are flying in from France after spending some time in Europe. Our flight is just over an hour. We are also Aussies so we are used to driving on the lefthand side of the road.
Yes Janisj somewhere near Durdle door would be great. As we arrive on a Saturday, I will have to get looking straight away.
Thanks

You might like to look at Wareham in Dorset on the way to Durdle Door or alternatively Lulworth itself. Lulworth cove has just a few pubs with rooms, but the cove is lovely and lobster is on the card.

You may find that GPS takes you off the motorway system to get from Gatwick to Dorset. Stay on the M25/M3 as far as you can.

3 hours, with a tolerence of -0 and +3hours

Last edited by bilboburgler; Nov 16th, 2023 at 05:19 AM.
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
. . . 3 hours, with a tolerence of -0 and +3hours
As is always the case

At least it is a Saturday afternoon so traffic should be lighter. Won't be the 'getaway day' or the 'get back to work' traffic for the weekend.
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 01:51 PM
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Thanks Bilboburger.
Yes all the maps seemed to want to send us on a route via M25/M3, which seemed to me to be back tracking. I am not a big fan of the UK Motorways, we drove north out of London on our last visit, lots of big trucks and fast drivers! But I also realise probably on a Saturday the lesser roads may be busy with local traffic.

I had been looking at staying in Lulworth Cove, which looks lovely but expensive. Thank you for the suggestion of Wareham, it looks like a nice town for an overnight stay. We could always visit Lulworth Cove for lobster and a visit to Durdle door
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by aussie_10
Thanks Bilboburger.
Yes all the maps seemed to want to send us on a route via M25/M3, which seemed to me to be back tracking. I am not a big fan of the UK Motorways, we drove north out of London on our last visit, lots of big trucks and fast drivers! But I also realise probably on a Saturday the lesser roads may be busy with local traffic.

I had been looking at staying in Lulworth Cove, which looks lovely but expensive. Thank you for the suggestion of Wareham, it looks like a nice town for an overnight stay. We could always visit Lulworth Cove for lobster and a visit to Durdle door
Wareham, was for a period Capital of Wessex, (Wessex was what became England), and has some interesting historical bits, a posh hotel but also more sensible places like the Bear Pub to stay in, then it has a beautiful river to walk beside and is often called the Gateway to the Purbecks, which only makes sense when you get there.
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 01:40 AM
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Yes I am looking forward to staying in Wareham.

I have been working all day trying to put an itinerary together. Mapping out places of interest i have read about along the way. I am also mindful of long weekends and school holidays, but have researched soo many properties. With lots not available already for May!

Suggested stops along the way:

Wareham 1 night Durdle Door
Torquay area 2 nights (we like small towns - I haven't researched this area yet I know Torquay isn't small but somewhere nearby maybe) Visit Cockinngton
Polperro 2 nights
St Ives area 3 nights (This is over the long weekend so prices are ridiculously expensive. I am looking at staying a little way out in Lelant. This is for a base to explore the Cornwall countryside) St Michaels Mont, Lands End etc
Port Isaac area 2 nights (just north actually as this is still part of the holiday weekend and hard to get accommodation) Tintagel Castle
Lynton/Lynmouth area 2 nights (I haven't looked at accommodations yet)Interested in the cliff railway and the valley of the rocks
Cheddar Gorge or Bath area 2 nights ( we have been to Bath many many years ago and as this is a weekend I have heard that Bath can be very busy.
Our last night we will stay at Heathrow, we have an early morning flight the next day.

All suggestions for adding or removing places or ideas is appreciated. I value peoples thoughts.
Thank you
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 03:28 AM
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A few observations;

I would avoid Torquay completely. The town centre is now quite grim. A major redevelopment project for the harbour starts later this year and will continue throughout next.

As you appear to have discovered Cornwall will be very busy at that time. Port Isaac is delightful but the narrow roads leading in an out make it a very difficult place to get in an out of. Unless you have accommodation in the centre with parking, it will involve parking at the public car parks and trekking up and down the hill to the centre. We tried visiting over the October half term break and just gave up. We were staying in Padstow which, although busy, was a lot easier to get in and out of.

Bath is busy at most times. It is not car friendly so again, I would suggest finding a place with parking. An alternative ( as you like small towns) is Wells, one of the UKs smallest "cities". An amazing cathedral, a nice place to stay and handy for Cheddar Gorge, Wookey Hole, Glastonbury. Even Bath is less than an hour away.

You have a lot of destinations so when planning journey times, I would take what Googlemaps suggests with a massive pinch of salt. On our trip down there last month GM predicted 4 hours, it actually took close to 8 hours. I would add 50% on to any predicted journey time. On the day (s) I would use Waze in preference to GM or satnav , IME is is much more accurate and provide usable alternatives if traffic is bad.

Wise move to stay at LHR the night before your homebound flight.
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 08:01 AM
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Getting into St Ives by train is a good trick, stay outside in a cheaper town and then just jump on board
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 02:00 PM
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Thank you for your observations crellston.

Torquay area was really for a base to visit Cockington and maybe Tontes or Dartmoor. Maybe I will have a look at staying in Totnes. Brixham? too busy?

We will be staying just outside Port Isaac and will make sure we go early, yes I read about parking up the top. But it has always been on our list so we will try and visit.

Thanks for the suggestion of staying in Wells, it has a lot to offer and hadn't been on my radar until now.
We use Waze in Australia and find it very accurate.

I always appreciate local knowledge and any suggestions
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Old Nov 18th, 2023, 08:57 AM
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Hi Aussie10,
Dartmouth should definitely be on your list, lovely town and area. There is a ferry across the estuary to access the Torbay area, but the Dartmouth side is so so much better.

On your way from Gatwick avoid the M3, M27, route if you can, M3 A303 is better and more scenic and if you haven't already visited it you will be driving past Stonehenge, absolutely awesome. I would stop for the night at Sherbourne or Ilchester, lovely small towns. From there down to Burton Bradstock for a coffee stop on your way to Lyme Regis or Beer for your next stay, Charmouth near to Lyme Regis has a beach where you can find ammonites amongst the pebbles.

On your way to your next stay in Darmouth pop into Exeter for lunch and then Totnes for tea. If time permits visit the south hams towns of Salcombe and Kingsbridge and if a beach day Bantham beach across from Bigbury on sea
Next stay would be in Fowey in cornwall, stunning place, if you find somewhere on the Esplanade to stay you will be very happy . Whilst staying here I would definitely not miss taking in the Roseland peninsular, St Ives where you can a boat across to Falmouth (the maritime museum is great) sometimes you can get a ferry to Truro which stops at the Pandora Inn at Mylor bridge. Porthcurnick beach with the Hidden hut behind it is well worth a stop if you take in the Roseland area. Don't miss Truro either

That should be enough for the first week, which is not a holiday week, from Friday 24th to the 2nd will be much much busier as it is half term and very busy

will be back with some ideas for the second week later


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Old Nov 19th, 2023, 12:34 AM
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Wow thanks tonyee for all your great suggestions and driving ideas.

I've spent so much time investigating these places and ideas. My list keeps growing. I did have a stay in Totnes on my list but I have changed to staying in Fowey. It looks lovely and lots of nice walks and ferry trips. I must admit I hadn't contemplated visiting Falmouth, and I will need to read about Truro.

It looks like we will be in the St Ives area over the long weekend. I hope it will not be too busy. Is it worth going down to Lands End?
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Old Nov 19th, 2023, 12:45 AM
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The old joke, Fowey is lovely to visit, but so many tourists! (Pron. Foy)

Lands End, forget it
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Old Nov 19th, 2023, 01:33 AM
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I liken Lands End to Loch Ness -- famous but not much there there. More something to tick off a list. Many (MANY) better uses of your time. Instead spend the time around Marazion, St Michael's Mount, Mousehole.
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Old Nov 19th, 2023, 02:03 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj
Mousehole.
Pron Mozzhill
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