Cornwall, Devon and Somerset — otherwise known as the West Country — has had more than its fair share of wind and rain for the past two months.
The floods will recede, the railway lines will be repaired and the coastal towns and villages will recover. While the worst of the damage has been confined to a limited number of areas, the message that’s coming through loud and clear from the region is that it’s “business as usual”.
The evidence was clear for all to see at last Saturday’s well attended South West Group Travel Show at Weston-super-Mare.
Many of the region’s top attractions were on display and it didn’t take long before my little grey cells were buzzing about the potential on offer to creative travel agents in the land of living legends. Here are just a few examples.
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table make a great theme for a tour of the south west of England. The costumed guides at Glastonbury Abbey bring the story to life as the itinerary then takes in Glastonbury Tor the alleged burial place for the Holy Grail.
Then westward ho to Tintagel Castle where King Arthur was born and Merlin’s Cave below (watch out for the tides), Dozmary Pool Excalibur’s final resting place and Cadbury the Neolithic Fort ‘forever the town and castle of Camelot’. On the return to London there’s the Round Table in Winchester’s Great Hall. Food for thought…
Murder and Mystery
This year’s Agatha Christie Festival takes place on the English Riviera (aka Torquay) between 14th-21st September. Every year, Whodunnit fans from all over the world flock here to pay tribute to the Queen of Crimewriters as they enjoy talks from internationally renowned guest authors, tea dances and vintage fairs.
Expand the interest by following in the footsteps of Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis in and around the university city of Oxford, Inspector Barnaby in Midsomer Murder country and Sherlock Holmes in London.
Top it off with a performance of The Mousetrap now in its 62nd year.
I’m always looking for travel less, see more destinations for add-ons to the Chelsea Flower Show (late May) or the Hampton Court Flower Show (early July) and for me, the Classic Gardens of South Somerset ticks all the boxes. Take a look at www.visitclassicgardens.co.uk and you’ll see what I mean. Add in traditional pubs and traditional tea rooms and you’ll be on to a winner. Putting it all together’s the tricky bit but that’s where I come in!
Tours of Your Bookshelf
Rochester and London are important locations for a Charles Dickens themed literary tour but the story and the tour should start in the waterfront city of Portsmouth.
Britain’s greatest story teller was born there 2012 years ago and the Dickens walking tour includes his birthplace, buildings associated with his early life and times and a photo op at the recently unveiled statue of the great author, the first ever to be erected in Britain.
Rev Up and Drive Off
Two major car collections were represented at the show and they sparked a bright idea. Between 6th-7th September, Beaulieu home to the National Motor Museum is staging their annual Autojumble, the biggest outdoor sale of motoring items on this side of the pond.
Enhance the itinerary with a VIP visit to see the fabulous, gleaming collection of 400 cars at the Haynes Motor Museum and 3-4 nights in London. Finish the programme on a very high note with a special tour of Brooklands, the birthplace of British autosport and a couple of action packed days at the Goodwood Revival (12th-14th September) which delivers a stunning mix of classic cars and aviation.
John Wesley in the West Country
Talking to the people on the Bristol stand reminded me of the city’s strong associations with John Wesley and their Birthplace of America tour. The great evangelist visited the tin miners in Cornwall no fewer than 32 times over a 42-year period which means that there are quite a few important sites for inclusion in a customised Methodist Heritage tour into the West Country.
Finishing with Sunday morning worship in the John Wesley Chapel in London, presenting this itinerary to a Methodist Minister could attract a warm welcome.