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Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey
Buck­land Abbey

Buck­land Abbey, near Yelver­ton, Devon, rep­re­sents a British nation­al trea­sure, impres­sive by any stan­dards. Upon our first view of the estate, we entered one of the biggest, old­est stone build­ings I’ve ever seen in my life. The grand, wide entrance doors alone dom­i­nat­ed the entire hill­side and instant­ly cap­tured my imag­i­na­tion and inter­est in its ori­gins. Once inside, I mar­veled at the cat­a­pult­ed ceil­ing, stur­dy wood­en beams, and sol­id walls — in place for hun­dreds of years. Snoop­ing around, I felt sad that none of the fur­ni­ture from its incred­i­ble past had sur­vived. Walk­ing light­ly in sacred silence, we stum­bled upon a huge wood­en sign on legs and read the text out loud: “THE GREAT BARN

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Adventures & Learning Travel

Granite Way Cycle Path

On route again through last underpass
On route again through last under­pass

We ful­ly expect­ed a fun day, our first taste of bik­ing in the UK. We embarked on the Gran­ite Way, a main­ly traf­fic-free cycle route from Oke­hamp­ton to Lyd­ford, Devon and a part of the exten­sive Nation­al Cycle Net­work (NCN) in the UK-route 27 “Devon coast-to-coast”. Built along the course of the old South­ern Region rail­way line, the rel­a­tive­ly flat trail cov­ers about 15 miles.

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Articles Travel

Castle Drogo

Granite stone with impressive door at Castle Drogo
Gran­ite stone with impres­sive door

What con­tains 2355 sol­id gran­ite blocks and leaks like a sieve?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the last cas­tle built in Eng­land claims that hon­or.

Yes, Cas­tle Dro­go leaks pro­fuse­ly and water will ruin the prop­er­ty with­out imme­di­ate action. For­tu­nate­ly, the Nation­al Trust, own­er since 1974, has come to the res­cue and the building’s inte­ri­or now faces a bone-dry future, but will wait five years for the priv­i­lege. In the mean­time, scaf­fold­ing around the struc­ture sup­ports the (hope­ful­ly) brave and patient work­men who will care­ful­ly remove and return 680 tons of stone from (and back to) the Cas­tle roof — a Grand Design Ground­hog Day, to be sure.

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Articles Travel

Knightshayes Court

Stables hold pride of place at entrance to estate
Sta­bles hold pride of place at entrance to estate

Locat­ed in Tiver­ton, not far from our tem­po­rary thatched-roof cot­tage, Knight­shayes Court rep­re­sents yet anoth­er Nation­al Trust loca­tion where we spent a hap­py few hours. The Trust acquired the estate in 1973 after the death of its own­er Sir John Heath­coat-Amory. His fore­fa­ther, John Heath­coat, inven­tor of an inno­v­a­tive lace pro­duc­tion machine, orig­i­nal­ly chose the site for its view of his plant — the largest lace-man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ty in the world at the end of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry.

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Adventures & Learning Articles

Finch Foundry

Three waterwheels power mechanical tools
Three water­wheels pow­er mechan­i­cal tools

Locat­ed in the small vil­lage of Stick­lepath, near Oke­hamp­ton and with­in the Dart­moor Nation­al Park bor­ders, this his­toric foundry remains the last work­ing water-pow­ered forge in Eng­land. Owned by Tom Pearse in 1810, the mill oper­at­ed then to pro­duce the high-qual­i­ty serge fab­ric (or twill-weave wool) need­ed to dress the British army in its dis­tin­guished scar­let jack­ets and white breech­es.

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Adventures & Learning Articles Travel

Dartmoor National Park & Prison

Moorland stretches for miles over pastures and valleys
Moor­land stretch­es for miles over pas­tures and val­leys

The Park

Locat­ed in south­west Devon coun­ty, this stun­ning land­scape show­cas­es some of the wildest nat­ur­al beau­ty in Britain with 368 square miles of pale pur­ple heather, deep green forests, and ancient gran­ite rock for­ma­tions – known as tors. The Park ranks com­pa­ra­ble in size to the US Mount Rainier in the state of Wash­ing­ton. In con­trast, Yosemite holds more than three times the land mass.

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Adventures & Learning Articles

Eden Project

Overview of Eden Project
Overview of Eden Project

In 1998, a 35-acre chi­na clay site in Corn­wall, Eng­land stood silent and unpro­duc­tive. Today, the Eden Project demon­strates how enough vision and resources can trans­form a min­ing pit into a green, con­ser­va­tion-ori­ent­ed par­adise for all to enjoy. Record pro­duc­er Sir Tim Smit, Eden co-founder and chief exec­u­tive, pro­vid­ed a dri­ving force for the crit­i­cal change back to pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. The Project, now a reg­is­tered edu­ca­tion­al char­i­ty, exists to bring peo­ple and nature clos­er togeth­er through “gar­dens, exhi­bi­tions, events, expe­ri­ences, and projects.”