A bit of Devon countryside
Not sure what I can say with words about the Devon countryside that can't simply be said with the photos. It's rural, pastoral, wild and also well tended.
The roads are mostly tiny (to us americans) one lane tracks with tall hedges on either side - unless you're out on the moor, then it is just vistas for miles and miles. The hedges serve many purposes - lowers the noise of traffic (though calling a car going by once an hour traffic is silly :P) delineates farm borders and their original purpose; serving as trackways between farmlands for the farm equipment to travel on.
It's neat to drive on them, because interspersed with this claustrophobic feeling of the hedges are the little breaths of open fences to the farmland. Little windows out into the wider world of what is going on - and has been going on here - for centuries and centuries.
When you do get a broad expanse to look at - and really, you get it quite often Devon just spoils you in that way - it looks like this. Literally everywhere you go.
I've tried to put a finger on why I find the English countryside so perfect compared to my American one I see so often. North Carolina has tended farmland just the same. Not sheep (it is cattle here that is everywhere) but it amounts to the same rural, farming countryside. But it isn't the same. But I have finally figured it out.
The *greens* are different. In England they are saturated, brighter, more vibrant. And just walk on English grass with your bare feet. It's the softest, velvety pillow on your toes. What are they doing to their grass?! Even our high end Fescue and Bluegrass isn't as soft. Even the golf green Bermuda grass isn't as vibrant. But even their trees aren't as dark leaved as ours. It's just a subtle but noticeable difference and while I have come to love our rustic North Carolina beauty, nothing compares to England. <3
Then of course like everywhere else in England there is history to be had in Devon. Gads of it of course. It is really rich in Bronze Age relics and stone building (that's for another post) but Castles and sights abound. I've written about Okehampton Castle before - but my earlier visit was before the season opened in May so this time we got to walk all around the ruins and up into them. It is a really impressive site.
Soon after the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the castle was begun as a motte and bailey castle with a stone keep, then it was converted into a sumptuous residence and hunting lodge in the 14th century by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon. Much of this work survives. After the last Courtenay owner fell foul of Henry VIII in 1538, it declined into a 'haunted' ruin.