The hill pictured above is quite famous, it’s called Gold Hill, but not everyone knows that it is located in Shaftesbury in Dorset.
Gold Hill, is a steep, cobbled street with houses from the 1700s. It used to be a place known for for its views of the Blackmoor Valley, but became very famous when it featured in a Hovis bread commercial. Gold Hill has its own museum. It should be noted that this town is the only one of any importance on the hills in Dorset.
Shaftesbury was officially founded in 880 by King Alfred who fortified the city and also built an abbey. In the next century King Edward was assassinated by his stepmother at Corfe Castle and buried in Shaftesbury Abbey which then became a pilgrimage site. Now relatively little remains of this abbey, but you can visit the Shaftesbury Abbey Museum and in its garden you will see the ruins of the abbey itself.
You can also see St Peter’s Church, a Tudor-style Town Hall which dates back to the 1800s. If you wander around Shaftesbury and love literature you can stop at Ox House which was a house mentioned by Thomas Hardy in the book Jude the Obscure.
Shaftesbury also has a famous cultural and arts centre with many exhibits, of a very high standard for a provincial venue, and events. However, we must remember that Shaftesbury has only 7000 inhabitants and therefore things to do are very limited. You might not want to stay here for a week.
How to get to Shaftesbury?
You will almost certainly not come to Shaftesbury on purpose, but will pass by during a visit to Dorset. The whole area around Shaftesbury including the surrounding countryside is well worth a visit
To get there you can take the train to Exeter from Paddington in London and get off at Gillingham which is close to Shaftesbury. In fact, in Gillingham you can take the X2 bus which takes you there in 16 minutes.
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Stowe House a large building from the 17th century
Stowe House, an old country house is located near the abandoned village of Stowe in Buckinghamshire. It is now a private school, but is open to the public during the school holidays along with the magnificent gardens and park.
The house was built in the late 17th century with the help of the great architect Christopher Wren who seems to have participated in the construction of most of the buildings in the second half of the 1600s. The palace was later modified,perhaps during the 1700s although the latest changes they were made in 1779. All the famous architects of the time such as John Nash, James Gibbs and Robert Adam worked to improve the building.
The palace belonged to members of the Temple family who made money and became members of the small aristocracy thanks to the sheep and wool trade. They bought the house and land here at the end of the 1500s but only a century later they decided to rebuild a home.
The Temple family produced several counts, viscounts and barons and their humble abode became a reference point for the nobility of half of Europe. The parties in this house were famous because they could last for days and days.
Now even if you manage to visit the villa, you will only see a limited number of rooms but it is worth going there only for the magnificent gardens which are managed by the National Trust, also during the course of the year there are always seasonal or artistic events. The gardens have several structures and statues and will keep you busy for a whole day.
Morlaix in France, a medieval centrewith dreamlike houses
Just look at a couple of photos of Morlaix in France to immediately understand that it is a city to visit, especially for those who love old medieval houses. But not only that, it is also a great base for exploring Brittany and the coast overlooking the English Channel and the Atlantic.
The thing you will notice right away is the incredible viaduct that dominates the city, it was built in 1861. The nice thing is that you can go up (at least up to the first level) and walk over it admiring the view, admission is also free.
There are also some of the old wooden houses that can be visited. One of the best known is the Maison dite de la Duchesse Anne which dates back to the 1400s and is a real beauty built in the style of the area. La Maison a Pondalez is another beautiful house from the 1400s, recently renovated that houses the city museum.
The beauty of Morlaix is also to wander aimlessly through its medieval streets and discover it in this way. You will also find a lively market every Saturday and a harbor which also hosts several yachts.
You will have no problem finding food, go around the Rue Ange de Guernisac to find excellent restaurants, if your wallet is low on funds you can always live on cider and galettes, Breton crepes made of buckwheat and also suitable for those who do not tolerate gluten.
If you have time ten km from Morlaix you can find the Cairn de Barnenez, a huge cemetery from Neolithic times, the largest in Europe
Herm Island – a little hidden paradise
Years ago I was introduced to Herm island by my dad. He loved Islands and discovering new places. He would investigate and learn all about strange places and make it his mission to visit them.
Herm is a tiny little Island with no cars motorbikes or roads to worry about, located in the Channel Islands it is only 3 miles from Guernsey. Perfect as a place to relax and forget the hustle and bustle of modern life. The fabulous unspoilt beaches and quiet sandy paths that wind around the whole island are a wonderful way to spend magical hours in splendid isolation.
Shell beach was one of most amazing natural places I have ever experienced. The whole beach stretches for miles and is unlike anything else I have ever seen. Made up entirely of millions of minute, perfect, and wonderful , exquisite shells rather than sand that explains the name.
Belvoir bay is a wonderful little cove for bathing and it feels like you have discovered it all for yourself especially if you stay on the island and can enjoy it after the day trippers have left in the afternoon. A puffin-breeding colony is also located on the far end of the island,the comical little birds are fabulous to watch.
Staying on Herm Island
There is only one hotel on Herm Island and it is pure quality, The White House Hotel is set in stunning gardens and has captivating sea views. There are also a few holiday cottages and a large field equipped with ready set up tents for families so you don’t have to bring all the equipment.
The only way to reach Herm is via boat, either aboard a private yacht or on the passenger ferry. Which takes just 20 mins to reach this paradise island. Boats operate all year round from St. Peter Port with an hourly ferry from May to Sept.
I spent many holidays over the years exploring and falling in love every time with this unique little place which I hope you will discover for yourself one day.
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