Yesterday we were up long before the crack of dawn to embark on one of our Green Express Tours train trips, this time all the way down south to Exeter. 3.45am the alarm went off, and five o’clock the taxi arrived to take us to Huddersfield station. As ever on these occasions there was lot’s of greetings of familiar faces. J was accompanying us for the first time on a Green Express tour train, so as we waited for the train to arrive I filled him in on the usual procedure of boarding at whatever carriage happened to stop where you were stood and then
fight work your way down to your allotted carriage and seats.
It was late arriving at 6.15am. We all clambered on board the nearest carriage and then we all slowly worked our way down the aisles to our respective carriages and seats. We were in coach H. Bags stashed onto the rack, bottoms parked on seats, we settled down for what we knew was going to be a very long journey. Normally when the train is running late, they try to catch up to time but strangely we began lagging further and further behind our schedule. Not only that, but every time we came to a stop it was a jerky stop throwing everyone forward in their seats (and causing havoc if you happened to be trying to drink at that particular time!)
Following one particular sudden jerky stop, one of the stewards walked through the train to inform us all that the front engine had broken down, and we were now to be pulled by the one at the other end. We then resumed our journey with the other engine doing the pulling. We finally arrived in Exeter at 12.30pm, about 15 minutes late. The train then left to continue onto Dawlish and Paignton. It was to return to pick us up at 5.15pm, so we had a just under five hours to see all the sights of Exeter.
Armed with our usual trusty map, we made our way out of the station to make our way to the Quay. The weather was fine, but I had expected it to be far warmer than it was seeing as we were so far south. There were lot’s of students sitting outside the numerous cafe’s and restaurants, and one in restaurant in particular caught my eye because they served some enormous pizzas which the students were all gathered around sharing. We really should have spent more time exploring here as we didn’t get to visit the Quay House visitors centre which was over a bridge from where we were. In fact we didn’t really see most of the Quay and will have to take in the rest of it if we get down there again.
We then made our way back up the slope towards the Cathedral. As we arrived, the bridal car (a dressed up volkswagen camper) arrived just in front of the Cathedral doors. To loud cheers from all the spectators dotted around the park area that surrounds the Cathedral, the bride emerged and they all went inside. Because there was a wedding taking place, we were advised to return later to tour the Cathedral, so we decided to continue on to the Exeter Underground passages. We had a hard time finding this venue as we ended up passing it a few times. It was in between two shops and so was easily missed by anyone not familiar with the area, and that was despite J’s map reading skills.
We were shown a short film about the Underground passages explaining why they existed, and then we all had to don hard hat’s and place all our bags into lockable lockers before following our tour guide down into the passages. K had to wear one of the children’s hat’s as the adult one’s were too large for her head. It was all very interesting as the tour guide kept stopping at different parts of the passages and explaining things to us, but I wouldn’t recommend this particular attraction to anyone who is at all claustrophobic!
The passages were very narrow, which explains why we all had to leave our bags behind, and also very low! K wasn’t too bad as she is only five foot but even she kept having to stoop. Poor J was nearly doubled in two for most of the tour! You can found out more about the Underground Passages HERE.
Emerging from there, we made our way back to the Cathedral, but again we were thwarted from making the full tour because there was now a service taking place, so we had to resign ourselves to just looking around the main area. It’s a stunning Cathedral to look around with its high vaulted ceiling and well worth a visit if you are ever in Exeter. We also visited the Cathedral shop for some souvenirs and then exited and walked back towards the shopping area to do some last minute browsing and gift buying. I couldn’t find a fridge magnet that I liked anywhere though.
We slowly made our way back to the train station where we had a bite to eat before crossing over to our allotted platform to await our trains arrival and the journey home. My feet were throbbing and my back was really aching by this time, all I wanted to do was sit down. We had really done quite a bit of walking around. At last the train pulled in and we all clambered on board to take our seats for the journey home. Of course everyone wanted to know whether we had enjoyed our day and we asked them about there chosen venue’s as well. We fairly flew back on the return journey, and we stayed ‘on time’ for most of the way, arriving back in Huddersfield for just after 11. 15pm.
You’ll not be surprised to learn that as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep! It’s so nice to go travelling but its oh so nice to come home!