The Road Scholar photography program we considered taking here ended its itinerary in Lyme Regis, so we wanted to see why. LR is in Dorset just across the Devon border, so it was another lengthy drive. We have put 1,000 miles on the car since we arrived. We're glad that it gets 50mpg, but we're looking for things to do a bit closer to our condo the next few days. The challenging roads here have taxed the driver, although the Devon roads are a bit less narrow in most places.
Lyme Regis is another scenic seaside town with a port encircled by concrete barriers to protect the craft inside. The beach is composed of large rocks rather than the nice sand we saw in Cornwall, which is typical in this area. The locals covered the stones on the swimming beach with sand imported from France according to the somewhat sheepish lady at the Visitor's Information Center. I can't imagine spreading out a towel and resting on rocks. The beach was lined with colorful rental cabins, where vacationing families can store their beach paraphenalia. Although summer temperatures are long gone, we saw a few braves souls swimming nevertheless. Many of the ice cream shops and beach gee gaw kiosks were closed.
Lyme Regis is the westernmost point of what is known as the Jurassic Coast, because so many fossils from that era have been found in the crumbling cliffs. Gift shops sold fossils and rocks and toy stores sold model dinosaurs. We're also in Jane Austin and Agatha Christie country. LR had its heyday between 1500 - 1700 when a vast array of goods were brought into and exported here, running the risk of pirates and buccaneers. A large market was flourished for 600 years. When the trading declined, Lyme became a mecca for people who believed in the medicinal properties of swimming in the sea and breathing fresh air. More recently LR got a bit of fame as the location for Meryl Streep's film The French Lieutenant's Woman.
Our next stop was at Forde Abbey. As the name would indicate, it began as a monastery, but was seized by Henry VIII in his quest to shut down the Catholic Church and its holdings in his struggle with the Pope to get an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. After he seized all the lucrative holdings, he gave them to his friends and those whose affection he wanted to ensure, keeping the best bits for himself, of course. These days the wealthy folks who own these old buildings struggle to keep them in good repair. The family who owns Forde, lives upstairs and lets tourists like us enjoy the downstairs and the magnificent gardens. You might think that the garden season is pretty much over in October, but this is a subtropical climate and there were still plenty of bloomers to enjoy. A huge kitchen garden was still looking bountiful. It's so much work to take care of all that acreage. A man on a tractor/mower was driving up and down 60mph and he only made a dent in all the grass that needed to be cut.
There is more we would like to see on the Devon coast, but the drive is just too far from the Torquay condo. We'll just have to come back again.