Can you identify where I am, and what I have seen and learnt on the way?


My friend called William and I are in the smallest Devon town and it was close to the outbreak of a terrible disease in the county during this century. NO, my friend’s surname is not Cleave!!

The town is the starting place (in alternate years) of a half marathon and was created as a result of the disease. My friend is very fit, and was tempted (best foot forward and all that), but the prize may not be as bejewelled as he thinks.

Disappointed, but not defeated, he discovered there was a cycle trail not far away, and he knew where we could hire bikes – there was no escape for me! Although I did insist on stuffing a pasty in my mouth before leaving.

Off we went, in cavalier fashion heading to a town nearly 10 miles NNW, but was it the large one or small one I asked. Not quite either, friend replied, just an old transport centre.

On the way we pass 2 nature reserves on the left. One with links to the history we have already discovered, the other with links to the history we will discover later. We saw reminders of that half marathon along the way as well.

Once we had our bikes, the idea of a gently declining ride sounded very appealing, but friend had been studying a map and was keen to test his fitness.

That place sounds interesting he said – it could be where the monarch lived in poverty during the epic battle near here. Friend was really being stupid now, but off we pedalled – and wow, that was a hill! It might have been less than 4 miles in a SEE direction, but I was suffering from lanes and hills when we arrived.

Only 124 houses, although many were very pretty, so possibly worth the journey. But no sign of the monarch’s abode, even though it had royal connections, and we then discovered it was named after a Saxon peasant!

However, close-by was something far more interesting. An entire village was built and owned by somebody rolling in money. His vast mansion is now a ruin, but the pack he founded lives on in the grounds.

We both agreed it was time to return, and although the return to our hire point was mostly downhill, even William was puffing when we got there.

Still time for a much easier journey friend convinced me, as he assured me were going from 161ft above sea level to 7ft (he forgot to mention that was start and finish!!). Off we went, and there was an uphill section and for some reason I got ‘otter and ‘otter.

Most of the time we were following several transport routes. The most interesting terminated close to the local RHS establishment – but it had a different name then. This route transported materials from the ground in both directions, so was ideal – until replaced by what we were pedalling along!

We could have diverted to see a massive stone industrial construction, built for a specific purpose, or crossed a bridge, that I assume used to cost .0020833p at a toll.

However, it was getting late, and we passed the olden times opportunity of continuing a sea journey to Wales or beyond. At last, we reached our final destination, left our bikes, and retired to another monarch sounding establishment – although we could not afford the suite named after a local author!




Brian Butler 21.3.20