Today I got up at 06:30 expecting to get ready for a day trip over to Guernsey. To make sure we’d get there my Mum who has on occasion had travel difficulties saw the Doctor to help with her nerves, and also brought a hip flask of brandy with her. However, she hadn’t used the medication she’d been given or the drank the brandy; she instead felt that she couldn’t go on the trip. I did wonder how much of this fear of the boat trip was caused by watching Titanic a few nights previous.
However, myself and my sister were told that we should still go on the trip however she said she’d have been upset had we gone. This did mean we no longer knew what we’d be doing today. After a while the decision was made to cross into Wiltshire to visit Salisbury, and then back to Dorset to visit Shaftesbury and into Somerset to get to Sherbourne.
At our first stop in Salisbury we visited the Cathedral. Unlike some of the cathedrals I’ve been to this one does not charge entry and allows you to go around the cloisters and see the Magna Carta for free. If you want to go in the main part of the Cathedral there is a suggested donation of £6.50, but it is only a suggestion.
In the Chapterhouse, where they hold the Magna Carta, it is surprisingly kept in almost direct sunlight, but they don’t allow photography in this room. I think that’s perfectly understandable really as the number of people who would try and use their flash (or not know enough about how their camera works so the flash goes off anyway) could cause damage to the document over time. Apparently this copy is in better condition than the one in Lincoln Castle.
The cathedral also has a nice cafe in the refectory where they use proper tea leaves in their teas and also make cakes and bread on sight in the adjoining kitchen. The flapjack I had there was pretty good!
Once we’d finished at the cathedral there was little time to see the rest of Salisbury so we headed back to the car and headed towards Shaftesbury. Along the way we made a slight detour though to find somewhere to have lunch. The nearest place we found was still in Wiltshire, and was an English Heritage property called Old Wardour Castle – built in the 14th Century. On the way to this though we passed an interesting church in Wilton that looked very European.
Eventually we made it to Shaftesbury and parked up so we could go looking for Gold Hill – a steep hill lined with old buildings and made famous by the Hovis advert from the 1970s. Between the picturesque scene and Dvorak’s New World Symphony (9th movement) it’s no wonder it was so memorable. I spent a bit of time here trying to get a reasonable photograph and even wandered down the bottom before running back up it (it was quite some effort!).
At the top of the hill they have a museum which includes very few pieces, and upstairs they have a section to commemorate it being 100 years since the start of the First World War. What I didn’t realise though is that there was a statue next to this building that makes reference to the famous advertisement. If I’d seen it there would have been a fair chance I’d have photographed that too, no matter how silly it may seem to do so.
We then moved on to our final stop of the day – at Sherborne Castle. There are two properties here – one which is owned by English Heritage (the old Castle), and then there’s the one which is actually a stately home formerly owned by Sir Walter Raleigh.
You can either pay £6.00 to go around the gardens, or £11.00 to also go around the house. We chose the latter option, though what they don’t tell you until you’ve paid and reached the house entrance is that they don’t allow photography there, or mobile phones. I can understand disallowing flash photography, but to disallow photography altogether is a real shame. It’s also an annoyance they don’t tell you this before you pay.
The interior of the house isn’t that special and I wouldn’t say it’s worth the price we paid – especially when you compare it to Athelhampton House or most of the other stately homes I’ve visited over the years. At one point I took my mobile phone out of my pocket when I got an email and one of the stewardesses there “told me off” for using a mobile phone in the house as it’s not allowed. Before I’d even done that she’d already had a real attitude and I think it really affected my opinion of the estate.
Outside the gardens aren’t really much to look at and would be better described as grounds. There is a large lake with trees around it, and on the far side there is a wall which offers (poor) views of the old castle. They recommend going to the view point (which they described as a 45 minute walk, but took us 10 minutes) but why they don’t tell you is that you can barely see the castle as it’s too close and deliberately positioned so that you can’t see it that well (so you’d have to pay English Heritage to see that one properly too I guess).
Eventually we headed back to Weymouth and had a meal at the Brewer’s Fayre. Unfortunately their car park is pay and display which seems a bit unusual for a restaurant (and they don’t refund the charge to customers), but I assume it’s because it’s near the beach. When we got there we were told there was a 30 minute wait (which meant our car park ticket was effectively useless as 20 minutes after we’d parked it would change to free parking) so we thought we’d try out the crazy golf in the meantime. Sadly that turned out to close at 17:00 so we headed to the beach for a while instead. In the distance we could see some sort of navy ship, though it wasn’t until I photographed it that I could tell it looked more like a small aircraft carrier.
As the evening drew to a close we briefly had some rain, a sign that our final full day in Dorset might be a little cooler than the 27 degrees sunshine we’d had today.