Day Trips to Charmouth & Blenheim Palace

I had a busy weekend last weekend – Out on the road, exploring the country; something I plan to do most weekends over the coming months.

The enforced period of staying at home, not travelling, not going abroad, I have found difficult; Travelling at home and abroad is what I do to switch off. So there’s a lot of catching up to do.

I’ve now got an Excel spreadsheet on my computer listing all the counties of England and my aim is to do something interesting in each county. Some of them are things I’ll do with family / friends, others I’ll take myself off on my own.

On Saturday my sister and I drove down to Charmouth in Dorset, on the coast, not far from Lyme Regis. We spent the afternoon on the beach, had a picnic lunch and went for a walk along the coastal path.

Although there were lots of people at the beach (the car park almost full), it was big enough that there was plenty of space for social distancing.

On the way back we stopped at Cheddar in Somerset to visit Cheddar Gorge. Actually Cheddar would be a decent day trip within itself. We both went to Cheddar on school trips many years ago which is why we like the area.

There was quite a bit open, cafés, pubs, restaurants and shops have re-opened with social distancing measures in place, which gave a small sense of normality – something I have wanted all the way through the Coronavirus lockdown. After walking up and then back down the gorge a bit, we stopped in a local cafés to buy a milkshake before returnig to the car for the drive home.

Traffic for the day was mixed. The M5 was full of caravans going down to Devon and Cornwall, slow particularly past Bristol and something happening near Weston-Super-Mare – then stuck behind a caravan on single carriageway once I came off the motorway, all the way down to the Devon/Dorset border. The way back – largely a clear run.

On Sunday I went off on my own and drove to Blenheim Palace in neighbouring Oxfordshire. It was a nice Sunny day, warm but not too hot; There were plenty of people visiting the Palace but with a lot of outdoor space and social distancing measures in place it was perfectly safe.

In normal times you can expect to not have much space to move inside the Palace, in the Covid-era you can expect to sometimes have entire rooms to yourself. Staff are on hand to answer any questions, or download their App to use the audio guide. I stayed 2 metres behind a couple in front of me, and as they had questions it was almost like having a personal guided tour!!

The café and shop are also open, so I bought myself some lunch, got the chair out the back of the car, and sat eating outdoors (a lot of people were just sitting next to their cars).

Not everyone was going inside the Palace – some people only get tickets for the gardens & grounds – and with pre-booked arrival times it meant not everyone was turning up at the same time so it was quick & easy to get in.

It was a good day out and I was going against the traffic too – which gave me a relatively clear run in both directions.

Not yet decided where I’m going next weekend, but with some National Trust places re-opening I’m looking at Berkshire (relatively local – can’t be driving hundreds of miles every weekend) – perhaps somewhere like Basildon Park. I believe the house itself is closed but the grounds will be open; a good one to do if it is hot this weekend as forecast.

Photos from Blenheim Palace below.

Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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