Sunday, July 15, 2012

South West England

The South West of England is a land of mystery and magic. From the pixies of the Cornish hills to the Arthurian mysticism of Somerset, the very landscape is steeped in the stuff of legend. You can’t help but walk through history wherever you go , whether it’s in the shadows of Stonehenge or Avebury, hunting for fossils along Dorset’s Jurassic coast or following in the footsteps of Cornish smugglers.



The area is one of tremendous contrasts. Picture-postcard countryside and quaint villages roll one after another throughout Somerset and Devon , while the stunning 630-mile (1014-km) South West Coast Path , Britain’s longest way marked trail, takes in bustling ports , dramatic coves and glorious beaches even the south west’s three great moors couldn’t be more different, if you excuse the pun. The heathered slopes of Exmoor stretching across Somerset and north Devon contain evidence of the country’s most ancient farmland, some older than the Domes day Book itself. Its rolling hills and combes, rich in woodland and pasture, are populated by Exmoor ponies and red deer, while the spectacular Exmoor sea cliffs-provide a rocky resting spot for seabirds. However, it’s little wonder than Arthur Conan Doyle decided to let the demonic Hound of the Baskervilles loose on the stark, forbidding expanse of Devon’s other moor: cold, bleak but breathtakingly beautiful Dartmoor. Of course, another fabled creature is said to stalk the wilds of north Cornwall: the beast of Bodmin Moor. Tiny in comparison to its near neighbouring moors, Bodmin’s gentle sloping hills, offer a wild and windswept landscape.


Bodmin Moor
Bodmin Moor

When it comes to food and drink, the South West again serves up its fair share of legends. Jamaica Inn, immortalised by the pen of Daphne du Maurier is no work of fiction but an old staging post on Bodmin, and a welcome sight for walkers.

There’s the world-famous pasty, said to originate in Cornwall (though often contested by Devonians), head-spinning Somerset scrumpy cider and irresistible clotted cream tea – believed to have originated from Benedictine monks in Tavistock over 1000 years ago. The once sleepy fishing harbour of Padstow has been transformed by its cuisine, and is now bursting with the best seafood the region has to offer, thanks mainly to the efforts of celebrity chef Rick Stein.

Padstow Harbour

Whether you feed your belly or your imagination in the South West, one thing is certain: once you’re under the region’s spell you’ll be bewitched forever.

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