A Weekend in East Devon and Our First Airbnb Experience
Many of our favourite travel bloggers have been raving about the advantages of staying in rented AirBnB properties when travelling for short and also for longer stays, so we felt it was time to check it out for ourselves.
After joining the AirBnB site, giving our details and having few attempts at choosing a good photo of me and hubby (easier said than done, since some were too serious, others were too smiley, or too cheesy…) and scouring available and suitable properties in the town of Seaton, we opted for a hill top property that had good reviews and looked rather old and charming. We sent the owners a request for a one night stay over the weekend of May 7th /8th 2016 and full of trepidation waited for their reply.
It was not long before we got their positive reply and started packing our bags for a weekend in East Devon, only 1:30 to 2 hrs away from our home in the South of England.
Since the weather forecast was for a dry day with spells of sunshine all throughout the weekend, we decided to travel there by motorbike, enjoying a taste of Dorset with some culinary stops along the way. Starting with breakfast with beautiful views at Portland Bill, the Lobster Pot coffee shop and restaurant is conveniently located next to the Portland Bill Lighthouse.The Isle of Portland in the Southernmost point of the County of Dorset, England, is a limestone tied island, a barrier beach called Chesil Beach joins it to the mainland. The Bill has 3 lighthouse towers, see the main one below.
It was quite steep going up the hill and in particularly for me being in the back of the bike it did feel a little scary at times as we climbed higher and higher via some very narrow lanes and windy roads, but the views out to sea and beaches down below were getting better and better making it all very worthwhile.
After exploring around the light house we continued our journey along the beautiful Dorset coast line, past Portesham a small village that I visit every month for work when I run a dietetic clinic at the extremely friendly GP Practice. The coastal road via Abbotsbury is very scenic with amazing views of Chesil Beach – this stretch of coast line became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001 due to its Jurassic Coast status and amazing geology that takes you back in time to 185 million years ago.
Our lunch stop was at the charming Hive Beach Café in Burton Bradstock where we indulged in some local sea food delights and a taste of their catch of the day. It is a very unpretentious place with top-notch sea food cooked to perfection; a gem of a place right on the beach.
We tore ourselves away after a nap on the sand opposite the The Hive Beach Café and then jumped back on the bike to continue our ride along the Dorset coast via another beautiful sea town … Lyme Regis nicknamed “The Pearl of Dorset”. The town has a harbour wall known as “The Cobb”, which features in the British writer’s Jane Austen‘s novel Persuasion, and in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, a novel by another British writer Mr. John Fowles, as well as the 1981 film of the same name which was partly filmed in Lyme Regis.
As per Wikipedia:
“The town is noted for fossils found on its beaches and in the cliffs which are part of the Heritage Coast—known commercially as the Jurassic Coast—a World Heritage Site stretching for 153 kilometres (95 mi), from Orcombe Point near Exmouth in the west, to Old Harry Rocks in the east. The coastal exposures provide a continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations, spanning approximately 185 million years of the Earth’s history. Localities along the Jurassic Coast include a large range of important fossil zones.
The Blue Lias rock is host to a multitude of remains from the early Jurassic, a time from which good fossil records are rare. Many remains are well preserved, including complete specimens of important species. Many of the earliest discoveries of dinosaur and other prehistoric reptile remains were made in the area around Lyme Regis, notably those discovered by Mary Anning (1799–1847). Significant finds include Ichthyosaur, Plesiosaur,Dimorphodon, Scelidosaurus (one of the first armoured dinosaurs) and Dapedium. The town holds an annual Mary Anning Day and Lyme Regis Fossil Festival. A fossil of the world’s largest moth was discovered in 1966 at Lyme Regis.”
We arrived in Seaton in mid afternoon and our Airbnb host waved us and our bike into their courtyard which had lots of space to park and securely leave the motorbike overnight until the next day.
She was super friendly and invited us to join her, her husband, son and daughter-in- law for a cup of tea in their lovely garden overlooking the sea. We could not have felt more welcome and relaxed and after some chatting and getting to know them a little and find out about the local area and the history of their over 100 years old property, we were shown our room for the night. The room was spacious, it had facilities for making tea, coffee and cold drinks, and there was courtesy biscuits and some bottled water. We also had our own bathroom.
They recommended dinner for us at an old Pub by the river Axe an easy 2 miles walk from the house via the beach front promenade of Seaton. On the way to the Pub we explored Seaton, a small seaside town that dates back thousand of years to the Iron age. The Romans were also here and in 2013 builder Laurence Egerton, a metal detector enthusiast, unearthed the Seaton Down Hoard of copper-alloy coins. The hoard of about 22,000 Roman coins is believed to be one of the largest and best preserved 4th Century collections ever found in the UK.
The next day was all about walking another stretch of the South West Coastal Path (we have being doing small sections of it recently) taking us from our host’s house in Seaton to the neighbouring little fishing village of Beer.
The route is not without its perils though, since nature takes its toll on the geologically unstable chalk cliffs and landslides are common. In July 2012 after a prolonged period of heavy rain an 80 m long landslide of the cliffs adjacent to Beer took a big chunk of the old coastal path and so a diversion, to take the walkers inland along the new Beer Road ( B3172) had to be implemented. Our hosts told us how to avoid the dangerous area and where to pick up the safer path.
There were some steep parts at the start of the path, but plenty of gorgeous views across to Seaton Bay and the Axe River Valley, to reward our efforts along the way.
We carried on along the path over the cliff top, with plenty of stops to take on the views until we started our descent to Beer beach and its charming fishing port. There are steep steps down through the Memorial Gardens with several benches and viewing terraces where one can get a good rest and relax taking in the beautiful views.
We left for our walk early since we wanted to have breakfast at Beer and we were lucky to have had the most perfect crisp fresh, sunny morning with hardly anyone on the path… just us and nature with its peaceful silence interrupted only by the tweet of birds and the sound of our foot steps along the path. We found visiting this coastal town in the shoulder season, in this case May/2016, to be the perfect time, depending of course on the unpredictable British weather. Fewer tourists combined with the lower prices making it a great combination.
We later walked back the 2 miles, to our AirBnB house to collect our bike and rode it back round to Beer where we parked the motorbike at the village car park and walked down to the sea front to find a yummy place for lunch. We did not have to walk far to find another charming old British Pub and enjoyed sitting in their garden with sea views and the traditional British plate of fish, chips and peas to polish it off….a fitting end to our weekend motorbike road trip.
After our all fresco meal we rounded it off with a quick walk along the beach to help it down , then hopped on the bike for the run home and getting ready for the week ahead … refreshed and invigorated after a lovely break.
Our first AirBnB experience was a great success, our hosts were welcoming, friendly and helpful. They gave us the key to their home and left us to explore a new area at our own pace. The property was clean, spacious, comfortable and very charming. The site is very easy to use once you subscribe to it. There are many great properties all over the world that vary from a room in someone’s house to a whole house or apartment. We have since stayed at another gorgeous AirBnB property in the Cotsworlds and have booked a stay at apartments in Lagos, Paris and Amsterdam.
Have you used AirBnB properties on your travels? What is your take on it? Let me know in the comments.