Thursday, 29 January 2015

Devon days out

BUCKFAST ABBEY is the only English medieval monastery to have been restored and used again for its original purpose.

Founded in 1018 during the reign of King Canute (or Cnut if you prefer the Anglo-Saxon), the abbey offers 1,000 years of history. 

After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, it fell into ruin until 1882, when a small group of French Benedictine monks began a 30-year re-building job … without the benefit of helmets and handrails.

Visitors will see the abbey church, and get the opportunity to enjoy three gardens (lavender, sensory, and physic) and shop: the bookshop is one of the largest religious and spiritual bookstores in south-west England, and the gift shop sells ceramics, biscuits, preserves, and Buckfast Tonic wine. 

The industrious monks there also run a restaurant … and bee-keeping courses. There are no entry or parking charges.

A BIG attraction on the Devon coast in Torquay is Kents Cavern, one of Europe’s most important Stone Age cave sites

The complex is a protected national monument and a major visitor centre for the UNESCO-endorsed English Riviera Global Geo-park.

The caves – with rocks said to be 400 million years-old, and stalactite and stalagmite formations – are open every day for guided tours which end in an underground exhibition chamber. 

Access for wheelchair users is restricted.

Outside, there is a Stone Age woodland trail, indoor kids-archaeological dig area, and hands-on cave art areas.

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