Wednesday 29 June 2016
Kerry and James’ house, Saltash
The weather was terrible when I woke up, very wet, and the rain was predicted to last all day. I thought this was lucky for the following 2 reasons: firstly, Kerry offered me the chance to stay a second night (which meant a proper bed) and, secondly, instead of walking past Plymouth I could take a bit of time to explore the city.
Kerry dropped me off near The Barbican, the old part of the city that dates back to the 16th Century. After just a short walk across the footbridge spanning one of the wharves I was soaked.
I stopped at Jacka Bakery for coffee and a truly excellent pain-au-chocolat. This bakery has been certified as the oldest commercial bakery in Great Britain, dating back to 1597, and it supplied The Mayflower with biscuits for its voyage across The Atlantic. Ancient ovens are still visible, but unfortunately unusable.
Just down the road is the Plymouth Gin Distillery, established 1793, the oldest one in England.
I took a tour around The Mayflower Museum, which overlooks The Mayflower Steps, the point where The Pilgrims set sail for New Plymouth. I met an American couple whose ancestor was on the ship.
Plymouth likes its plaques and memorials. There are a lot. There are plaques commemorating all the famous sea journeys that started from Plymouth, and memorials commemorating the famous men that set sail from here.
Most of the plaques at The Barbican Wharves were reminders of how the British colonised the New World; The Mayflower sailed for America in 1620, The Tory sailed for New Zealand in 1839 and plenty of ships sailed for Australia in the 18th Century.
Up the hill, past The Royal Citadel, built in 1655 for King Charles II, to protect the seaward approaches to Sutton Harbour, I reached The Hoe. More memorials. There are 23,000 names on Plymouth’s Naval War Memorial for the two World Wars, all sailors or marines based at Plymouth.
At the other end of The Hoe were 4 imprints in the grass, signifying the spots where The Beatles sat for an iconic photograph. All very strange.
I wandered through the Stonehouse area of the city and went to the Rocksalt cafe for lunch. Highly recommended. After that I caught the bus back to the Tamar Bridge and walked across it into Cornwall again. I really enjoyed my day in Plymouth.