If you’ve been keeping track of the ‘where I’ve been’ widget in the sidebar, you might have noticed that I’ve been doing a decent job of exploring England. I’ve recently added Bath, Bristol and Ross-on-Wye to Cambridge, Horsham, Windsor, Leicester, Bridgend, Swansea, and Whitland to my list of places I’ve visited in the UK.
This was mostly thanks to the abundance of bank holidays we had in April and May. For the final long weekend in May, Tom was invited to one of his old school friend’s wedding. I was looking forward to the celebration and spending a relaxing long weekend out of the city.
Tom and I debated driving and taking the train to Exeter, so I checked GoEuro, the travel search site I discovered a couple months ago when planning my trip to Edinburgh. It gave the costs of each, but not wanting to be tied down to a car we opted for the train, even though it wasn’t as flexible. We got open return tickets for about £70 each.
There is a slow train and a fast train from London. One will get you to Exeter in 2 hours; the other one, which is the one we took, takes almost 3.5. That weekend, there were delays and cancellations and that meant the trains were packed – people were standing in the aisles – and it took us hours to get there. I definitely wish we had splurged on those fast tickets…
The wedding party and family stayed in Powderham Castle, which is where the cocktail hour and reception happened. There was a suggested list of places to stay, which Tom compared the prices of very diligently (as I mentioned in my interview here). I wasn’t really that fussed about where we stayed, but Tom wanted somewhere nice while also being where other people were staying.
One my of colleagues recommended The ABode, which was right across from Exeter Cathedral where the ceremony would be taking place. It wasn’t on the recommendation list, but we found a really good deal on Laterooms and it had a really great rating for service. There was also a Michael Caines fine dining restaurant and Champagne bar, so I was pretty much sold!
The ABode lived up to its service and comfort level. I’ll talk more about it when I write my review of the ABode!
Things to Do
Exeter is actually a pretty small place and within a day or two, I had explored most of the main town on foot. There is a lot to keep you entertained, especially if you’re into shopping, walking, or cycling. Exeter is also a good place for making trips to other parts of south Devon and Cornwall.
Exeter Cathedral is over 1000 years old and it is a beautiful piece of handiwork. This is where the wedding ceremony was held and we arrived early and got a chance to walk around the place a bit. The carvings outside were very intricate and the stained glass was lovely.
I felt like I was walking around a part of history here.
While we were there, they were hosting the Off-Quay festival (clever, right?). We took a walk along the canal and listened to music. We stopped for a snack on the other side of the river and had delicious falafels for £5. There are artisan shops, cafés, and pubs to explore and dine at as well. We walked part of the length of the canal, but if you’d like to see the whole thing you can take the Exeter Ship Canal Journey from the Canal Basin to Turf Hotel. It’s a great way to see the natural wildlife and marshes while relaxing – if boat journeys don’t make you queasy that is!
Take a Hike
We followed some walking trail and ended up at pub – how very English! I didn’t note the name of the path, but there are signs that point towards ‘The Double Locks’, which is a hotel and pub. There are actually locks there too… I’m not sure which is the namesake of the path, but I get the feeling people go there for the booze more than the scenery!
There are also cycling trails around Exeter, which will take you to other towns in South Devon. I think it would be lots of fun to do if I went back!
Ah yes, and we came upon some cows. And lots of cow poop.
Visit Parliament Street
This street just off Exeter High Street dates back to the 1300s. It’s also considered the narrowest street in the world and at its narrowest point is only 25 inches wide.
It also smells intensely of urine.
See Old Exeter
Exeter is old. There are areas that were built by the Romans.
There is ‘The House that Moved’ – the house dates back to the 1500s and it was listed just after Exeter City Council decided to build a new road. Since it was a listed building, they could no longer demolish it, but they the works for the road were already underway, so they lifted it and took it to another side of the town!
There are ruins all across the town, and more plaques you read and further you explore the more you’ll find. The cool thing is that in Exeter, they actually let you walk around them.
There are also underground passageways that were constructed in medieval times to bring water into Exeter. Though a lot of Exeter’s history can be viewed above ground, you can go underground on a tour to view this impressive piece of the city’s history.
Almost forgot the catacombs, which we discovered by accident (as I do, because I never actually plan trips properly…)!
There’s Some New Exeter Too…
Even Exeter is doing the street art thing – I came upon this piece which people didn’t seem to notice (Tom said he didn’t see it!). I recognized the style from the Street Art Tour I took last summer on my visit to London.
I can’t remember the artist’s name, Vhils attaches small explosives to parts of the wall, or uses power drills and chisels to create the pieces in (presumably) a very messy process. He focuses on destruction for creation, believing that taking away the top layers allows us to reach some purer. Here’s the piece in London that has since been removed (I think he used a jackhammer for this one):
I had a lovely time in Exeter! I got to dress up, eat delicious food, meet Tom’s old friends and hang out with some I already knew! I’m really glad such a happy event brought them all together again 🙂
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