Tag Archives: beach

Day out: Dartmouth Castle

14 Oct

Another place on my list: Dartmouth.  Somewhere in the bloggy mists I’ve mentioned that we once lived in Hanover, New Hampshire, home to Dartmouth College.  So a visit to the original Dartmouth in Devon was a must-do.  Without much time to visit, we made good use of our English Heritage pass and spent the afternoon at Dartmouth Castle.

Dartmouth was an interesting maritime town — traffic back and forth through town includes a ferry ride!  The Britannia Royal Naval College is in the background.

IMG_3988edA crazy-making drive through small winding streets brings to mind the tight quarters of a ship.  Even the cemetery slides up and down hills and holds tight where it can.

IMG_3990edThe parish church by the Castle has a simple ship-shape elegance.

IMG_4006edWithin the Castle, one can tour the original battlements, set to defend the mouth of the Dart.

IMG_4030edInside and out, there’s not an overwhelming amount to explore, but it is all well preserved and there are many kid-friendly touch-and-learn stations for extra enrichment, and benches for tired parents to sit while the kids run up and down … and up and down … and up and down …  (You might want to download and print ahead the Step Inside guide.)

IMG_4014edThere’s a pretty-ish view of Dartmouth from here, as well.

IMG_4028edIt’s a beautiful place to indulge in dreams of pirates.

IMG_4021edThe water is an amazing green, due to the limestone in the area. (I believe.)

IMG_4022edaIf only there were a bit of sun, you might believe you were in the Caribbean.

IMG_4043edA beautiful cove facing the Channel, where I like to imagine mermaids and smugglers sneaking in past the guards sitting bored in their towers above.  This used to be a public swimming beach, and remains of the former swim platform are visible on the lower left of this photo.  This day, we got to spend uncrowded moments sorting through the rocks for shells and listening to the waves.

IMG_20140901_143313edCream tea and sandwiches at the nearby Castle Tea Room were surprisingly good.  But our best souvenirs were dainty small shells and a final English Heritage guidebook to add to our collection.


What I learned today about Weston-super-Mare

21 Aug

1.  Weston-super-Mare exists.  

Earth-shattering, I know.  But for reasons that defy sense, I was unaware that miles of soft sandy beach with convenient beach-side parking and a large boardwalk/entertainment pier existed a mere sixty-minute drive from my home.

2.  Miles of beach, but no … water?

How is this even possible.


Soft sand, plenty of room for games of volleyball, kite flying, castle building, picnics on the beach.  But no waves.  Where?  Where is the water?  This is not low tide.  This is … all there is.  I think?

3. Rip-off ‘edutainment’.

Just like back home.  But the kids won’t care that you’ve essentially paid fifty dollars to visit toilets off the sand, because as you cruise through Seaquarium, you will hear the most excited child-squeeeeeeeee ever released on the planet: “MOMMY!!  ALL THE NEMOS!”


4.  The Grand Pier.

Really?  Okay.  Seems like an over-reach, but I suppose it has a sort of future sci-fi Dune kind of look to it from here.  That’s cool.  I’ll  point out that while it sounds nice to enjoy boardwalk fish and chips  sitting high above the sand (again — where is the water???), it is not so awesome when you are forced to breathe in the evidence of Britain’s smoking problem.  Stop smoking, people.  No joke.  IMG_8039

5. Seagulls are evil.

Like the look of these fresh hot doughnuts?  Just pulled out of the fryer filled with who-knows-what misbegotten oils and made with hideous gluten and covered in crack-cocaine sugar?  We did, too, until a seagull FLEW DOWN FROM THE SKY AND ATTACKED ME.  Took a doughnut right out of my hand as I was putting it in my mouth.  Not an exaggeration. People around me screamed.  My own children ran away from me.

Not that I blame them.  I’ve noted the evilness of seagulls before. Today they were perhaps the agents of the paleo gods, since I didn’t get more than a bite before the attack.


So, to sum up all this fabulous learnin’:  Weston-super-Mare is worth a visit if you like hanging out on the beach but aren’t particularly bothered about going in the, you know, water.  Bring lots of sand toys, and more money than you expect — to spend on random entertainment, seagull-proof gloves, and extra doughnuts.  If you have a warm sunny day in England and an uncomplicated summer day to fill, it’ll be a win.