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davidx Plymouth - A travel report by David
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Plymouth,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
5577 readers

davidx's travel reports

Plymouth - the first one.

  18 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
I was born in Plymouth and lived there from the age of 8 to 19. Devon and Cornwall are counties with so much to see and that started me on the desire for exploring different places. No photos? Sorry, I know it’s crazy but I haven’t got any!


Plymouth was a great place to grow up and I still know nowhere I should prefer. The combination of coast, wooded valleys and moorland within a short distance was all a boy could want. It was formed by the linkage of three towns; Sutton, Stonehouse and Devonport [once called Dock]. However in the early middle ages, Sutton, which contains the centre of Plymouth and the Hoe, was only an adjunct of Plympton. The situation of the latter was preferable as it included easy access to fresh water but, as the river silted up, it’s mouth became the obvious place for a port and the maritime was outpacing the agricultural in Plymouth’s development. It was in the 16th century that Plymouth burst onto the national stage. Sir Francis Drake started his round-world voyage here and it was from Plymouth that he sailed to harry the Spaniards. They regarded him as a pirate and his exploits did nothing to calm the enmity growing between the two nations. It was from Plymouth, too, that he carried out his daring attack on the armada that was being built at Cadiz. 1588 is the best known date in English history in Devon along with 1066. The former marked the defeat of the Great Armada off the coast of Plymouth by a far smaller English fleet. In the next century Parliament supporting Plymouth withstood a long siege by Royalist forces. The King’s son, Charles II, after the restoration, built the Citadel at the eastern end of the Hoe ‘for the defence of the realm’. Note which way the guns pointed. Clue: NOT out to sea. Plymouth lies roughly in the centre of a great bay with the old fort of Bovisand and the Mewstone Island to the east and Mount Edgecombe Estate in Cornwall to the west. The river Tamar, to the west forms the border with Cornwall. The sea immediately off Plymouth is known as Plymouth Sound and contains Drake’s Island. The Tamar is also the site of the large Royal Naval Dockyard in Devonport. It is at the mouth of the Plym, farther east, and to the Hoe that we look next.

Favourite spots:
The Barbican was my favourite area – I say ‘was’ because, although objectively it probably needed tidying, I don’t find the antique and other small shops a patch on the rather messy little streets that used to be there or the modern cafes and restaurants a patch on the slightly grotty old places where a young lad would come in with a crab for sale while you enjoyed the meal. However you can still see Elizabethan houses in the ironically named ‘New Street’, the show house being a mustsee, and the famous Mayflower Steps. This was the last land trodden this side of the Atlantic by the Pilgrim Fathers but only because they had to put in for repairs following the loss of the Speedwell. Go west from here past the Citadel to come to the Hoe, a sort of parkland with monument’s where Drake’s famous game of bowls was played. You can also see Smeaton’s tower, the top part of the third lighthouse to be built on the Eddystone rocks, 14 miles out.

What's really great:
The Sound is terrific. To me sea is a waste of space unless scenic or busy. This is both and it’s no rare thing for people to flock here to watch particular ships or a sailing race. Navy Days, when the dockyard is open to the public are a bonanza and a cruise past the dockyard and ships always has some interest. The Cremyll ferry across the Tamar to Cornwall is immensely picturesque scenery and you can get a bus to the small beaches of Cawsand and Kingsand, from which you can return to the Barbican by motorboat in the summer. On the far side of the Plym Estuary are Saltram House and Estate, owned by the National Trust The shopping centre around Royal Parade and neighbouring streets is almost a living museum of the late 40s. Plymouth was bombed something cruel because of the dockyard and was probably the first of our cities to get ahead with post-war development. For a time this made it almost a tourist pilgrimage site but inevitably its ‘modernity’ was transient.

Sights:
The two bridges over to Cornwall have to be seen, running side by side across to Saltash. The Tamar Road Bridge is pretty modern but beside it is the railway bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Prior to the road bridge there was a chain ferry across here but the larger Torpoint ferry, which was the main road to Cornwall, still exists further down the Tamar also running on chains. The Cremyll Ferry is for passengers only.
Plympton, now part of Plymouth, is still worth a visit.
River trips right up the Tamar provide a good outing and are particularly to be commended in the nesting season, when it’s one of very few places in England where avocets can be seen. If you explore http://www.tamarvalley.org.uk you can find a splendid day out combining boat and rail.

Accommodations:
Strangely, I have slept out twice in the city of my boyhood. The first time was for a conference of my Union, when I stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Hoe. This was terrific but way outside of anything I would consider at my own expense.
The other was an ordinary B&B on the eve of a crossing by Brittany Ferries to Santander in Spain, something instituted since I lived in the city. I nearly knocked myself out on a low doorway so I refuse to recommend it!
Talking of things since I lived there, the Plymouth Dome is later than my last visit and is not something I can talk about for that reason.
http://www.redtek.net/a bc/dome/dome.htm
http://www.britta ny-ferries.co.uk/

Hangouts:
The most atmospheric pubs are still those of the Barbican, though as far as I know the old spit and sawdust ones are no more.
Plymouth has expanded to take in many places that were villages and it’s worth trying the pubs at Saltash Passage, Egg Buckland and Tamerton Foliot. And further out, some at Plympton and Sparkwell.


Other recommendations:
I’ve not repeated here places that appear on my Dartmoor report. [Sheepstor] but most places mentioned in it are easily accessible from Plymouth. If you are planning a visit, you should definitely see that as well.
Nearer the city and excellent for children is Dartmoor Wildlife Park at Sparkwell [Cornwood bus]
Another area little known to ‘foreigners’, a term including most citizens of the UK as used here, is the stunningly beautiful estuary of the River Yealm with its strange sounding names for villages, Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo. [For beauty and swimming, pick high tide.]

http://www.beautifu l-devon.co.uk/plymouth.htm
http://www.visitply mouth.co.uk/inde x.html?_area=attr actions

Published on Friday February 25th, 2005


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Sun, Jan 27 2008 - 01:04 PM rating by vbx000

Great report! Although pictures would be nice this report really doesn't need them, your descriptions are so good.

I was born in Plymouth, Mi! (lol) But, a report on plymouth michigan would not be as interesting as this one.

Tue, Mar 01 2005 - 02:27 PM rating by horourke

I love this report. I come to work here in Plymouth frequently. Your information adds so much depth to the experience of the city.
You do not mention the terrible damage from 39/45 or the new pedestrian areas or the great thatre experience but then one report cannot include everything.
Do you like Sainsbury's sail-like roof at Marsh Mills.
How about the ski run.
I am just running on and once more thank you for the experience

Fri, Feb 25 2005 - 06:58 PM rating by mtlorensen

Your style of writing makes little need for pictures! Lovely report, David.

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