Back in May I visited some friends who took me to Dunster Castle, a striking property run by the National Trust that overlooks the medieval village of Dunster. The village itself is worth exploring; it is positively quintessential with a number of shops and historical titbits including the Yarn Market on the high street and a doll museum (which regretfully there wasn’t time to visit, but I can only imagine how many terrifying china dolls fill its rooms).
The castle is set in a vast stretch of greenery, with a dozen or so walks which are highlighted in the free village guide. The views from the castle are something else – acres of fields, and even the coastline can be seen. What remains of the original castle is actually very little, as so much of it was destroyed centuries ago to prevent any further use as a fortress.
Although the site has been home to a castle for over 1000 years, much of what remains is part of the country home of the Luttrells, and the interior is modeled on what the place would have looked like while the family still lived there.
While I was visiting, I also had the opportunity to do a kitchen tour. We had an exceptionally knowledgeable guide who explained how the hierarchy of staff worked, and how and why the different technologies were installed through the years. It really was fascinating to see ‘behind the scenes’, as the kitchen had been mostly untouched since staff had left it years before.
For the ghost hunters out there, the castle also has numerous reports of supernatural activity, though we didn’t experience anything strange. There is a space beneath the castle dedicated to these stories, but most eerily is the oubliette, which although is sealed over, still feels unnerving to stand above.
North Devon really is beautiful, and I implore you to visit Dunster if you’re ever in the area. More information on Dunster Castle, run by the National Trust, can be found on their website.
Do you know of any other great castles worth visiting? I’d love to see more!
Hi all, Jon here!
Who am I? Well I’m just your average Joe really but of late I have undergone a change and am on the road to becoming somewhat of an amateur traveller, or explorer you could say.
It’s quite easy to get lost in your own little bubble or become trapped within your daily routine; but once in a while it needs to be popped, wouldn’t you agree? Once that bubble has been popped, your mind is open to the rest of the world and the great outdoors is yours to explore.
That’s what happened to me. After graduating last year I went straight in to the world of work and got stuck in the whole “eat, sleep, work, repeat” pattern. I started to feel like this was it now, could I look back years from now and tell of the wonders I’d seen and the places I’d been?
I always wanted to explore places and visit different countries, but it was always just a dream. This brings me to a quote I remember from the good old Karl Pilkington, odd I know but humour me:
“Your dreams should never be better than your real life. Unless you’re a sloth, because then they’re asleep a lot aren’t they?”
Okay so I digress, but my main point from this quote is that dreams shouldn’t be better than real life – life is what you make of it. So in the New Year one of my resolutions was to travel more. I don’t often make mad decisions, favouring not to be the risk taker, but I went against my own belief and went for it. I presented a random idea of a long weekend away somewhere with some friends of mine and they were totally up for it! That’s how it all started!
Ireland was the first adventure – we travelled to Dublin for the May bank holiday. This was the first time I had ever stayed in a hostel which wasn’t that bad at all, so I’m going to do it again – it’s a great way to make some new friends along the way too!
I never envisioned Dublin to be quite like it was – it was so busy! There were people everywhere, and not just fellow tourists – the pubs were heavy with the locals by 11am!
We took a day trip out of the city to see the lakes of Glendalough and the rest of the Wicklow National Park. The views were endless with such vibrant scenery; there was something very tranquil about this area. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing day-to-day; this is what I had dreamed of doing and was finally doing it!
A month later and I found myself en route to Loch Lomond, Scotland with a few of my friends from university. Never heard of Loch Lomond? Let these pictures do the talking:
My visit to Scotland was somewhat different, more of a challenging journey as opposed to being the tourist I was in Dublin. Over the course of three days I had been island hopping in a canoe, hiked up Ben Lomond and then overcame a fear that I never thought I had in the form of Go Ape!
Don’t get me wrong, though challenging, it was almost total relaxation – in some odd way – I was just in awe of what I was seeing and doing. This then led the way to my most recent venture, Snowdonia!
With my trip to Snowdonia came new experiences in the form of camping – wait what? You’ve never been camping before Jon?! Well only once and it was only one night. I have to say I really enjoyed it!
The sound of the rain delicately tapping against the tent, the sound of laughter from the other campers on site, the combined smells of the various fires and barbecues, the eerie silence when all of this died down, and then of course the feeling whilst climbing up Snowdon.
After scaling Ben Lomond I felt like, well I felt like I could conquer the world – yes a slight exaggeration for those of you who have climbed higher, but it was my first time and we’ve all felt it!
So whilst walking the path towards the peak of Snowdon I once again felt it, like I’d found my calling! An odd phrase to use and maybe even a little over the top but it feels right; I don’t know how else to describe it!
Although my travels haven’t spread much further than the UK as of yet I feel that I have already seen so much, and this has only wet my appetite to see more. So that’s what I am going to do! Of course given the usual constraints such as finance I won’t be one of these hardcore travellers by any means but heck I’m going to give it a go! Watch this space!
So next stop Belgium! Then Barcelona! Then, who knows where 2016 will take me…though fingers crossed for Japan!
I leave you with a cliché quote, but a relevant quote nonetheless:
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only from one page.” – St Augustine of Hippo
Well, it’s safe to say my eyes have been well and truly opened and my pages are turning. I implore you to do the same; you won’t regret it.
Until next time.
For more travel pictures from my adventures give me a follow on instagram: @paxo.91
So, we’re onto day three of Wanderlust Week! To celebrate our travel-themed week, a travel-themed word for our flash fiction challenge is needed…
How will you interpret the theme? Winner gets a book up to the value of £10 from The Book Depository! Write your piece of flash fiction in 500 words or less, submitting before the end of the week! Entry is £1, payable at the link below.
So what does travel mean to you? Is it the sense of freedom? The fear of the unknown? The understanding of how different cultures live? Or is it even a way to discover yourself?
Many of these questions have run through my head in the last year since I graduated University and the travel bug has taken hold. This year I have already visited four different countries and its only July; on top of that I’ve got another three trips planned for 2015. It’s safe to say I’m addicted. I’m addicted to flying, to driving, to exploring to all the things that get me to another part of the world. I mean if I had money I would not be working a job I don’t want to work, living in an area I don’t want to live in, away from the people I want in my life. However it’s all about making that money that makes me do the thing I do love; Travel.
So this year, I’ve climbed mountains, I’ve drunk beer in Bavaria, I’ve tried things I’ve never done before; quad biking, canoeing, jet skiing, scuba diving, skydiving. I’ve eaten haggis, sauerkraut, dog food (might as well have been). I have a new life, new ambitions, new reasons for waking up and it feels great and I am actively encouraging all the people I know to try it too, its invigorating.
My biggest adventure however comes at the end of August. A two-week trip around Iceland; in a campervan. Meticulous planning, endless excitement and anticipation of one of the most naturally beautiful countries, undoubtedly in the world has well and truly taken hold of me. The fear of missing a single breath-taking waterfall, the curious nature of the “elves” that the Icelandic people so categorically believe in, the hope that despite the season that the Northern Lights will appear one night that I lay staring at the stars. Travel intrigues us, it stimulates us, it makes us question the who, the what, the why, it can define our past present and future.
In this “blog” I could have talked about a place that I have been in detail, given you exact prices, exact feelings I felt, what the best places to eat, drink or visit but
I didn’t want that. I wanted to inspire you to feel how I feel. I want people who haven’t considered seeing the world to reconsider and I wanted the people who already travel to be reminded of its encompassing pull on our lives. Just book a flight, to anywhere, get out there and don’t look back other than to make money for that next adventure. Keep moving and never look back.
Amy’s adventures can be followed on her Instagram: doswell89
August’s book has already been announced – see here for details! Reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before with other people has been brilliant fun, and I can’t wait to do it again next month with Ender’s Game.
To kick off August, Wandering Words is hosting a week of travel posts, celebrating adventures both home and abroad. This will include a number of posts from guest bloggers, and a travel theme on Monday for the monthly Flash Fiction Theme Competition.
I’m really excited about this week, as it will be my first time opening the blogging gates to guest writers. Tune in tomorrow for our first guest post of the week. Hopefully you will be inspired to step out of your comfort zone and do some adventuring.
Want to get involved? Comment a link to your own travel stories in any of the posts this week, and I’ll be sure to check them out!
Wanderlust will be an event hosted at Wandering Words during the first week of August (Saturday 1st August through to Friday 7th August). It will be a celebration of travel both abroad and at home, with contributions from a number of bloggers and avid travellers.
Want to get involved?
Although a number of contributors are already lined up, I thought it would be nice to take this opportunity to showcase the adventures of my followers. So, if you are interested in contributing to Wanderlust week, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your submission, with ‘Wanderlust’ as the subject line.
You can talk about travel tips, journeys that changed your life, places you felt inspired by. If you are selected, you will be expected to provide a small bio and link to your website. I am open-minded with regards to layout and content, but please spell-check your work, and ensure any photos used are your own or accurately referenced.
Please note: this is not a competition and there are no prizes; there are a limited number of spaces and the best submissions will be selected. These will then be posted on the blog over the week, under our Guest Blogger profile, and will include a bio and link for each author.