You’ll probably have heard of Exeter, a small city in Devon. It’s in the middle of Devon, and you’ll definitely have passed through it if you’ve ever gone to Cornwall by car. You can also get there by train – many South West and First Great Western trains run frequent services into one of Exeter’s many train stations. It might not sound like the most interesting place to go, but it’s definitely worth a look if you need somewhere to stop on your way to faraway Cornwall.
The main feature of Exeter is its city centre, which features a Roman wall, a ruined castle, and hundreds of shops and restaurants within walking distance! The Roman wall was built to house the old heart of the city, and in this historic centre you’ll find an old and ruined castle atop the hill. As well as being a Roman city, Exeter was also important in the Middle Ages, so you’ll often see really old buildings in the centre. Along the high street alone, you can see buildings that date from the Dark Ages to buildings that have only recently been built, so it gives you a feel for all the different phases Exeter has been through on its path to becoming a fully modern city.
Exeter was, in the past, a city very heavily connected with religion, and the centrepiece of this is the Cathedral. Built in the 13th Century, it features hundreds of intricate statues of famous religious people all around the exterior. The Cathedral square is also a nice place to enjoy a traditional Devonshire cream tea on a sunny day, watching the seagulls gliding overhead.
From there, take a walk down the hill to the quayside. Exeter isn’t on the sea, so its quay is on the River Exe, a pretty river that flows delicately into the English Channel at Exmouth. On your way, you’ll probably encounter a seemingly random Middle Ages structure, partly a bridge and partly an entranceway. Presumably, this led to the old heart of the town, which I mentioned earlier. Even though it’s in the middle of a roundabout, it’s really impressive – and the fact you can walk around on it unrestricted also adds to its feeling of secret charm!
If you, like me, are a big fan of food, then Exeter has something for you. In particular, there is a pub called the “Old Firehouse”, which serves apparently excellent food. However, get there early, because it’s ridiculously popular. Want to know the reason why? Of course you do! It’s because J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series of books, created the Leaky Cauldron pub in the image of Old Firehouse, as she was a student at the University of Exeter and was probably inspired by her surroundings. As well as this, Diagon Alley was inspired by Exeter’s Gandy Street, which is just off the high street and claims to be the narrowest street in the world. So, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, then Exeter city centre for you will be like heaven!
If you fancy getting out of the city, catch a bus and go for a walk in the beautiful rolling hills of Devon, mere miles from Exeter. Perhaps if you’d like a coastal retreat, then Exmouth is the town for you – the massive estuary of the Exe River and the coast are a watersport lover’s dream.
So, with all that to offer, how could you resist a little trip to Devon’s cosmopolitan capital?
Image from: http://www.edwardianexeter.co.uk/photos/large/exeter-quay.jpg