14th July – Lanhydrock, Exeter & the long drive home

The last day! And one that would see me driving back to my Sisters house. A journey of about 170 miles, the longest drive I’ve undertaken in one day, and all whilst very tired.

I planned to break up the journey with a couple of stops; firstly near Bodmin at a National Trust property called Lanhydrock. The second stop was in Exeter to pick up some clothes I ordered when I was sat in my tent!

The first leg went fine and I reached Lanhydrock house with no problems. I’d only decided to visit the evening before, I was looking for places to break up the journey and this place was in one of the many tourist leaflets I had picked up.

The current  estate dates from the 17th century, however the house as it stands was mostly rebuilt after a massive fire in 1881.

This is one of the better houses I’ve wandered around, lots to look at and lots of different rooms. Including the dressing/bedroom of one of the sons of the family. He was killed in the First World War not long after deploying. In his room are his cases that were sent back to the family after his death. At the time they were stored in an attic and were only discovered many decades later. They are on show exactly as they had been packed.

The Gate HouseFront of the House.The gardens are very nice too.If you are down this way the house is well worth a visit.

Back on the road, I headed for Exeter. I mentioned that I may visit the city before I left on my trip, and was warned by my Brother-in-law that the one way system was horrendous.

Well he wasn’t wrong! The traffic in the city was nearly at gridlock, and it took me 30 minutes and 3 different car parks before I was finally able to find a space.

I was only nipping into the centre to pick up my order, but I’d failed to realise just how big Exeter is. The shopping area is huge, and I had to find some wifi (thank you Apple Store) to actually find the shop I was looking for.

I saw the Cathedral very briefly and would like to visit again but I think I’ll let the train take the strain.

As I was approaching the city I was getting low on fuel, so my priority on leaving was to get fueled up. Which was harder than I expected. It took me a while to even get near the motorway, and although I knew there was a service station before getting onto the motorway, I just could never get into the right lane to get me in there!

On my third attempt I somehow missed both the turning for the services and the motorway and headed back into Exeter! I doubled back on myself and headed for the motorway, as I knew there was another services about 15 miles down, my only worry was that my fuel gage read 20 miles left!

I made slowish progress along the road, driving at 60 when I had to but dropping my speed down to 50 when the traffic cleared in an effort to save fuel; the sight of a service sign has never been so welcome!!!

The final third of the journey should have been straightforward; drive on the motorway for an hour and then I’d be in Burnham….It was a very long hour. The previous 12 days of sleeping in a tent, driving everyday, visiting somewhere everyday and not eating as well as I normally do, all started to catch up with me.

I’d only been on the motorway about 10 minutes when my concentration lapsed and I veered over into the next lane, coming very close to a caravan. That woke me up a bit but not for long enough.

In my last few months at work, I wasn’t that occupied and in the afternoon if I sat still for long enough, my brain would feel like it was going into shutdown/sleep mode, concentration would go and my eyes would slowly lose focus before closing and I would nod off.

That happened twice on the journey home – very scary. Thankfully nothing serious happened, and I was able to make it back to Burnham without incident.

My camping trip was over.

I’m writing this over a month later so I can reflect on the trip. I really enjoyed it, the weather wasn’t great but it didn’t stop me from doing anything I’d planned to do.

I coped quite well being on my own, I spoke to more people than I expected to, and being in a tent for 12 days wasn’t so bad. Although I’m in no hurry to repeat the experience. Perhaps next time I will go for a shorter length of time, or I’d get a bigger tent, campervan or motorhome. It’s quite easy to get cabin fever in a small tent.

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