I will make no bones about it. I love my city. Exeter is a hotbed of independent shops and cafes alongside the bigger brand names that all come together to make my home city great. Not only do we have fantastic shopping and dining destinations but the city is steeped in history going back many centuries. Exeter was in fact the most south-westerly Roman fortified city in Britain but there were settlers here long before then. Exeter became a religious centre in the Middle Ages right through to Tudor times. The area I’m concentrating on in this post, the Cathedral and Cathedral Yard, being founded in the mid 11th century. The city has had many ups and downs over the years with quite a lot of the centre being bombed heavily in the blitz, but now through rebuilding it is considered one of the cultural hubs of the area and a centre for modern business and the thriving tourist industry.
I would like to share with you my day as a tourist in my home town. A day out featuring some of the best independent cafes and experiences that Exeter has to offer in a small part of town known as Cathedral Yard. Here is a video of my day…
Starting the day with tea and cake in one of my absolute favourite places. Cakeadoodledo is a cake lovers dream! Owned by one of the nicest people you are likely to meet. Kate Shirazi has a passion for baking that in turn creates delicious delights to tickle your tastebuds. I love the selection that ranges from the elegant simplicity of a traditional victoria sponge to the downright decadent chocolate mocha bomb. Sugar high’s are a regular occurrence here! In the summer months the pretty courtyard is opened up so you can enjoy the warmth of the sun while you indulge.
The next foodie haunt on my day out was The Plant. A buzzing vegetarian cafe with amazing views overlooking the cathedral. The perfect stop off point for lunch. The Plant have an amazing array of quiches, tarts, panini, salads and cakes that are all homemade on the premises by the talented team. Always busy serving top quality nourishment to hungry workers, tourists and ladies who lunch. The clientele is very mixed and I love that. Doesn’t that speak volumes about the quality of the food?
After lunch it was time to get moving. I had a date with a red coat tour guide. The Red Coat Tours run all through the year except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Provided by Exeter City Council and led by volunteers free of charge. Different days have different tours taking visitors on various routes around the city. My tour was a short one at just an hour long. I joined the ‘Introducing Exeter’ Tour which centred around the Cathedral Yard and Southernhay. My guide was full of relevant information and historical facts that brought to life days of old as we walked the tour route.
After leaving my Red Coat Tour at the entrance to the Cathedral I made my way inside to meet up with my guide for the Cathedral rooftop tour. Pilgrims and tourists have been visiting the cathedral since medieval times and remains one of the most visited places in the West Country. I joined the tour and made my way up a narrow spiral staircase into the roof space. Our guide talked us through the history of the cathedral as well as the modifications made to keep the cathedral in tip top condition for centuries to come. After exploring different rooms we ended up in the bell ringers room. Our guide, an ex bell ringer himself, was very animated about his specialised subject. I learnt that a peel of bells are always feminine and a singular bell like Big Ben for example are always masculine.
The part that I had been looking forward to finally came around and I made my way out onto the roof. Seeing the city from above was extraordinary. You can really map out the history of the city. The high street area completely devastated during the Beidekker Blitz bombing was one of the first notable areas that sprung out. Completely rebuilt in red brick it really does stand out from the surrounding areas.
The next notable area that stood out were the ruins of the Royal Clarence Hotel. I could actually see right inside what is left of the building. It really brought back many sad memories of the 48 hours that the hotel was burning.
Our guide pointed out all the historical sights from the rooftops. It really was very informative and made all the better with the wonderful weather. Obviously once you are at the top you have to come back down so I traversed the narrow spiral staircase back to terra firma. This tour is not suitable for anyone suffering from claustrophobia or acrophobia.
So there you have it. A little insight into the Cathedral Yard area of Exeter. Hopefully if you are a native of the city like me it will inspire you to explore what is on your doorstep. If you are a visitor then take a peek behind the scenes and delve a little bit deeper into the history of my home town whilst taking in the wonderful independent cafes on the way. We all need cake right?
I would like to say a huge thank you to Angel Wade Photography for documenting my day in film and pictures.