Day 1. Visiting Taunton at the start of our Cornwall road trip

This road trip to Cornwall took place towards the end of October 2020 just before further lockdown restrictions were put in place in the United Kingdom.

With most overseas travel not an option, it has been a perfect opportunity to embrace all that is lovely about England and I couldn’t have been more excited as we packed up the car for a ten day road trip.  Cornwall lies at the south western tip of the country and is noted for its rugged coastline and sandy beaches.  I had vague recollections of a two week family holiday in Newquay as a young child and so I was long overdue a return visit!

Stonehenge, Wiltshire
The stone circle of Stonehenge in Wiltshire

On the way, we got our first ever look at Stonehenge as we were held up in slow moving traffic along the road that passes it, so I was able to take a photo from the passenger seat.  It’s stone circle is one of the world’s most famous pre-historic monuments and on 21st June each year visitors from around the world gather to mark the summer solstice.

The Museum of Somerset, Taunton
The Museum of Somerset in Taunton

Our journey continued into Somerset where we decided to spend a few hours in the county town of Taunton as it lies close to the main route into the south west.  Our first stop was at The Museum of Somerset which offers free admission and is housed in the 12th century great hall of Taunton Castle.

Entrance to the Museum of Somerset in Taunton
The castle entrance to the Museum of Somerset

The museum tells the story of the county and contains mosaic panels from the Low Ham Roman Villa and Roman silver and bronze coins from the Frome hoard which were only discovered ten years ago.  It’s an interesting museum with artefacts presented in modern galleries which are easy to follow.  There’s also a gift shop and pleasant cafe overlooking the courtyard.

The courtyard of the Museum of Somerset
The museum’s historic courtyard

Moving on from the museum, we walked through Castle Green which in medieval times was the large outer bailey of the castle and continued on to Fore Street, the heart of the town’s shopping centre with a wide variety of stores and cafes.

Tudor Tavern, Fore Street, Taunton
Tudor Tavern now Cafe Nero on Fore Street

Along here we admired the Tudor Tavern, a three storey half timbered house with intricate patterned stud work.  It was originally a clothiers shop before becoming a grocers.  After lying empty for several years it was bought by Cafe Nero in 2003 who undertook restoration work enabling visitors to the coffee shop to sit in it’s remarkable medieval hall.

Old Market Hall, Taunton
The Old Market Hall on Fore Street

At the top of Fore Street is the old market hall, a symbol of how the town was once dependent on its local agricultural economy.  Nearby, we came across historic Bath Place, a charming narrow lane which it is hard to believe was the main route into the town from the west until 1894.

Bath Place, Taunton
Bath Place with its original shopfronts

It’s definitely not to be missed as it comprises a near complete set of quaint 19th century shop fronts housing some really nice independent stores and cafes.

Church of St. Mary Magdalen, Taunton
The church of St. Mary Magdalen

Dominating the skyline from afar is the church of St. Mary Magdalene so we went closer to take a look.  This grand perpendicular Gothic church has the tallest church tower in Somerset at 164ft (50 metres).  We didn’t get any opportunity to look inside as it was closed but I’m certain it’s interior is equally impressive.

Independent shops and cafes in Taunton
Attractive courtyards with shops and cafes

Taunton is home to the Somerset County Cricket Club which I recognised from television, as it hosts both county and international matches.  We had hoped to visit its museum which documents the history of the club and displays a collection of related memorabilia but as it is run by volunteers all of whom are retired it was closed due to the pandemic.

The River Tone in Taunton
From Bridge Street we headed to the riverside

Instead, we decided to take a walk along the banks of the River Tone which flows through the town.  Information boards indicated that the river is home to a wealth of wildlife including kingfishers, voles and otters but there were none visible as we wandered along.

Mill stream in Goodland Gardens, Taunton
Mill stream in Goodland Gardens, Taunton

Taunton had been a lovely place to break our journey and we looked back on our visit as we continued on our way through Devon and into Cornwall.  We’d planned a two centre holiday enabling us to visit as many places as possible without the need for lengthy car journeys.  Our first base was at Camborne in the south western part of the county, conveniently located just off the A30 trunk road.  The town is best known as a centre for the former Cornish tin and copper mining industry when the mining boom in the early 19th century was at the heart of world copper production.

John Francis Basset Hotel, Camborne
The historic John Francis Basset Hotel in Camborne

Our accommodation for five nights was at the John Francis Basset hotel which is operated by J.D. Wetherspoon.  The hotel is located in Camborne’s former market house which was paid for by the local landowner J.F. Basset.  Check-in was very efficient and our room on the first floor was well equipped and spacious.  After a short walk through the town, we enjoyed a tasty meal of fish and chips in the hotel bar and over cups of coffee we discussed our plans for the following day.

 

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Taunton

44 thoughts on “Day 1. Visiting Taunton at the start of our Cornwall road trip

  1. Pingback: Blog Sharing Saturday: Love Traveling Blog – Griffin's Nest

  2. jasonlikestotravel

    Taunton looked like a lovely place for you to stop. Bath Place looks like a lovely walk in to town too. Looks like a nice hotel in that picture too, I’d never think to stay at a ‘Spoons’ but I suppose October was a pretty good time to do it with all of the restrictions 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Taunton is an ideal stopping off place on the lengthy journey down to Cornwall and I liked the look of the town very much. The Wetherspoons Hotel in Camborne was excellent. We had a nice big room with a stylish bathroom and other facilities you’d expect in a quality hotel. It was great just being able to wander downstairs each morning for our cooked breakfasts and the same in the late evening when we didn’t have to go back outdoors after eating and having a drink in the bar. Being in Camborne we were in a good location for accessing south Cornwall with reasonably short journeys and although it did not have a car park, we easily found somewhere to leave the car five minutes away.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. jasonlikestotravel

        Our company has an office in Taunton so I’m familiar with it, I just haven’t ever really seen much of its appearance or what it looks like so interesting to see 🙂
        The hotel stay sounds great too 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

          1. jasonlikestotravel

            Haha yeah. The company I joined had a pretty strong presence throughout England and Scotland, they were then taken over by a company with much more of an international presence so have offices in many countries, including Gibraltar. I wasn’t seeking it out but just happened to pass it.

            I’ve not had any real need to actually visit most of the offices unfortunately but you’ve been to a few places that I didn’t know much about but I know we have offices at so it’s always interesting reading more about them 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

  3. I visited Stonehenge over five years ago, and I honestly found it a let-down, especially when I had to pay £15 just to access the site. However, Taunton looks to be a worthwhile place to visit, especially with that charming Tudor Tavern, as well as Bath Place and church of St. Mary Magdalene. One day, I hope to visit!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I know and it’s a beautiful part of the country that I’ve so far neglected. It’s years since I was there but hopefully I’ll get to visit Cumbria and the Lake District National Park later this year, that would be nice! Thanks so much for continuing to read my posts and for your welcome thoughts Ken.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We see a lot of Cornwall on our television here in South Africa (I think it’s called “Location, location, location” and they always show the most beautiful houses and scenery) … I’m really looking forward seeing more of your trip!
    The St. Mary Magdalen church is beautiful – and I’m glad you’ve taken a picture of Stonehenge (I never get tired of seeing photo’s of this monument – can you call it that? ☺️).

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for your interest in the start of my Cornish road trip. Taunton was a lovely town to stop off at for a few hours and we were so fortunate to be there on such a sunny day. Interesting to hear that you see a lot of Cornwall on SA television. Do you also watch Doc Martin? It’s one of my favourite programmes and we visited the village where it’s filmed during our road trip! Hope you have a good weekend.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s been years since I passed through Taunton – 2004, on a similar pilgrimage to Cornwall from London. And then, before that, oh, 1978, when I lived in nearby Lyme Regis, I had friends in Chard. Thank you for this revisit. It seems to have changed very little.

    ps: Love the obligatory ‘Stonehenge from slow-moving car on A303’ snapshot. A fine tradition!
    (I read yesterday that the plans for the tunnel beneath it – to free up traffic and, I suppose, stop snaps such as yours, edges slowly closer to fruition. Proof, if it were needed, that some people have no heart, imagination, magic or soul within)

    Safe travels and enjoy Kernow! 🙂 xo

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments Nick. Taunton in the bright autumn sunshine was a very welcoming place and one I’d happily return to. We absolutely loved Cornwall and the weather was mostly very kind to us. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series and thanks for the update on Stonehenge!

      Liked by 4 people

  6. So pleased to see a great review of Taunton. I lived nearby for around 20 years and saw the town develop. Back in the 70s & 80s it was just a market town with very little else to offer, but over the years it has changed into the vibrant and welcoming town that you have described so well. Looking forward to hearing more of your tour. Cambourne isn’t at the top of most peoples list as a base, but your choice looks great.

    Liked by 4 people

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