Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Short notes on a sustainable holiday

One of the first things people tend to ask me, when they discover we don't have a car, is 'What do you do on holiday?' (actually, the first things they tend to ask are 'Why?' and 'How do you do your shopping?', but we'll leave those aside for the purposes of this note!) So, to answer this perennial question, yes, it is possible to go on holiday in the UK without a car.

Dawlish, Devon

WH and I have just got back from a short break for our wedding anniversary. We used a combination of public transport and our own two feet to get us from A to B, B to C, C to B, etc, and not at any point did we cry 'Oh, I wish we had a car!' (Of course, I wasn't dragging the suitcase). Here is how we did it:

Day 1: Train from Reading to Dawlish, Devon (direct).
Arriving at Dawlish station - you can see it's right on the sea front.

The B&B in Dawlish was just a ten minute walk (uphill, admittedly) from the station. Arriving early afternoon, we then took in a short walk up the coast to Dawlish Warren along the sea wall (about 1.5 miles), then back to Dawlish for some very fresh fish and chips (the fish was fresh, the chips less so).
Day 2: Train from Dawlish to Torquay. Walk from the railway station through the town and up the hill to Babbacombe, to visit the model village (about 3 miles). We then walked back into town, indulged in a short game of crazy golf and then went to a lovely restaurant on the harbourside, Seaspray, which had great locally-sourced food (although WH did plump for the scottish salmon, I had a plaice fillet, which had been caught locally). Back to Dawlish by train.
Day 3: Bus from Dawlish to Bishopsteignton, then a walk up to a local vineyard (only 1 mile, but all uphill!). Old Walls Vineyard is one of five vineyards in the district and is family-owned - we were treated to a fantastic and very detailed tour by the owner himself. There was a break half-way for lunch, then a tasting to finish. Needless to say we came away with a bottle....
Back down the hill to the bus stop, then back to Dawlish. Dinner that evening was at a local bistro, Too Delicious, where we enjoyed some more locally-sourced produce in our starter of Brixham crab cakes, followed by steak for WH and chilli con carne for myself.
Day 4: Train from Dawlish to Exeter, where we spent the day discovering the city and buying some souvenirs. Back to Dawlish by train, and back to Too Delicious for dinner (it was that good). This time we both opted for fish and chips, which were definitely delicious and I finished with an amazing Devon cheese board.
Day 5: Another walk along to Dawlish Warren with another round of crazy golf (it was a different course, after all!), then back for lunch in Old Mill tea room before catching our train back to Reading.

Holidaying without a car:
  • Yes, you do have to choose destinations that can be reached by public transport, but that isn't really a large restriction!
  • Yes, you do have to plan your activities a bit more carefully. But that just involves a trip to the local tourist information at the start of your break to get local bus and/or train timetables.
  • Yes, you do have to do some walking. But it's good for you. So there. It also serves as a great excuse for stuffing yourself at every opportunity (I neglected to mention the cream teas and ice creams we enjoyed - all from Devon, of course!)
  • No, you don't have to camp - I had enough of that as a child and fortunately WH enjoys the benefits of a nice comfy bed and private bathroom facilities just as much as I do. Indeed, campsites are often more difficult to get to without a car (not to mention carrying all that gear).


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