Rain overnight and continued on and off all day. Drove through Exeter early this morning, a pleasure to actually drive through a town without the ever present traffic congestion. Very old town but clean. Interesting story behind the Clock Tower, A man built a horse watering trough in the square and when he died, his wife thought he deserved something better for the town to remember him, so she erected the Clock Tower.
From Exeter we took the longer slower way to Plymouth travelling through the Dartmoor National Park. This was a drive of contrasting scenery. Initially driving through forest with trees and shrubs close to the road, normal, and overhead canopies as well. The road winds through the hills and would have been a great ride on a motorcycle. We've seen a few around the last few days, mainly BMW GS 1200/1250s more so than road bikes or cruisers. Scooters and smaller bikes are everywhere here, usually with "L" plates.
Out of the winding forest roads we entered the high moors where the sheep and cattle run free to roam the road so you have to be careful. Signs warning of sheep sleeping on the road are a regular sight. By this time we were travelling through thick fog which made it harder to spot the animals, and the usual car drivers that don't bother to switch lights on. Beautiful drive, even with the restricted visibility of the fog but enough clear places to get a great idea of the area.
Through Plymouth, by this time it was railing heavily, and although it was Sunday, the traffic was quite heavy. We crossed the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall, we were going the best way and apparently; the toll is only charged one way. An early version of the plan had us also driving through parts of Bodmin Moor but that changed by the final version. As we were running ahead of schedule, a first, we decided to back-track a few miles to visit a site we had earlier considered. Bodmin moor has a lot of historical sites across it but we headed for a point on the south-eastern edge at the Minions. And no, before you ask, there were no little yellow barrels in blue overalls. The site is called the Hurlers Stone Circles and consists of three known stone circles sitting alongside each other. The southern has only two stones still standing while the centre circle is about 50% complete. The northern circle is somewhere in-between. The stone circles are believed to date back to around 2000BC and legend has it that a team of hurlers were playing a game on a Holy Day and were transformed into stones as punishment. The Pipers are similarly named as they were supposedly playing music on a Holy Day and also punished.
We spent about 1 and a half wandering through the slush of the moor looking at and hearing about the site. We were lucky enough to arrive on a day when some of those involved in ongoing investigations into the site happened to be there. After explaining where things were in the fog, they were a bit concerned for us as it is very easy to get disoriented in the fog. Robyn, one of the researchers, took us under her wing and gave us a tremendous personal tour and history of the site.
Not far from the Hurlers Stone circles are two stones called King Doniert's Stones. Originally two Celtic Crosses on bases are believed to have been erected by King Doniert around 850AD. The crosses no longer exist but it is interesting to see the mortises in the top of the two stones where the crosses were mounted.
Well worth the detour and it was the next two stops we should have avoided. First to Goonhilly Earth Station, a large complex of radio telescopes and space communications equipment. Unfortunately the station is no longer open to the public so a visit wasn't possible. Next on the list was a visit to the Lizard Lighthouse and cliffs. Took a while but we found the place and as usual there is limited parking available. The two hour detour to Minions had taken a toll on our available time so when the offer of parking for an hour was $6.00, we moved on.
Tonight we're in a small but nice B&B in St Hilary just outside of Penzance. Took some finding at the end of a muddy road when we arrived late this afternoon but that was easy compared to finding it again in the dark after dinner, and it wasn't the drink.
Tomorrow we spend the day visiting a number of places around the southern Cornwall peninsula.