Thursday, 10 March 2016

A Ramble with Reg







The opening day for the 2016 season at Fairlynch Museum is drawing closer and many of Reg Varney’s fans are looking forward to visiting his centenary exhibition ‘Our Little Clown.’

This post is specially for some of those 12.5K members of the On the Buses Fan Club who think that they'd like to follow in the footsteps of their favourite actor, in Budleigh Salterton and beyond. It can be a long ramble, with stops for refreshment in Reg's chosen pubs, or a bit shorter.

Fairlynch Museum opens only in the afternoon, and I would recommend spending some time at the exhibition before going further afield. And of course there are plenty of displays on other interesting subjects at the museum.

So why not spend a few days in our beautiful area!  Have a look at http://visitbudleigh.com/  to see what accommodation is available.





ESPECIALLY THE WEEKEND BEGINNING FRIDAY 1 JULY. 

ON THAT DAY AND ON SATURDAY 2 JULY A SPECIAL TRIBUTE SHOW IS TAKING PLACE IN BUDLEIGH FOOTBALL CLUB. 

A SMALL GROUP OF BUDLEIGH RESIDENTS INCLUDING REG'S DAUGHTER JEANNE HAVE BEEN PREPARING THIS VERY SPECIAL EVENT. 

IT WILL RAISE MONEY FOR THREE WORTHY CHARITIES, BUT MORE IMPORTANT, IT WILL SHOW US SOMETHING OF THE REAL REG VARNEY: THE GIFTED EAST END BOY WHO MADE IT TO THE TOP OF HIS PROFESSION, WHO 'GAVE LAUGHTER TO SO MANY' AND WHO IS STILL REMEMBERED WITH AFFECTION BY MILLIONS. 

YOU CAN READ MORE AT 
http://fairlynchmuseum.uk/onewebmedia/Home%20Page/Latest%20News/Before%20the%20Buses.pdf





















Driving to Budleigh Salterton along the B3178, approaching from the north, you meet Coastguard Road which turns into Coastguard Hill. 

Many people get their first view of Budleigh from this spot, and it’s popular with people who simply want to sit in their cars and admire the view.

That’s what Reg and his wife Lily liked to do. 
















At the top of Coastguard Hill I noticed that flowers had been placed on this bench. I thought of Reg, ‘very cut up’ as a neighbour told me, when Lily passed away on 4 November 2002.

But let’s discover what Reg enjoyed about Budleigh Salterton.
















Further down the hill, of course, and looking east rather than west you get this wonderful view of Otter Head.

Parking can be difficult in Budleigh, especially in the summer. Many people park in the Lime Kiln car park near Otter Head.

Or you may be lucky and find a space in the Fore Street car park.




















Reg was not so lucky here one day when he damaged the wing of his car – ‘I was dazzled by the sun’ – he explained.

The entrance and exit are quite narrow so be careful. 

We can now start our exploration of Budleigh on foot.  
















The little hut at the entrance is where the town’s first Tourist Information Centre was located. It was here that Reg, having just arrived in the area, met its manager Mrs Sue Newcombe. ‘I love the look of Budleigh Salterton,' he told her.
























The first thing to do in the town is to visit Fairlynch Museum and the exhibition ‘Our Little Clown.’ Turn left out of the car park on to Fore Street and head towards the beach.


















The museum is on your left and the exhibition you’ve come to see is on the first floor. It's called 'Our Little Clown', recalling the title of Reg's own autobiography.

 But it's not the only exhibition. You could spend a good two hours here and have to come back to see even more things.  And that's why we have FREE ADMISSION! 



















Don’t forget to visit the shop where you can buy not only one of those useful pencil sharpeners…

 





But also this brilliant new book – the first-ever biography written about Reg.  It’s not a heavy tome, just something to take away as a souvenir of the exhibition, and I enjoyed producing it.



















And now for a wander round the town, following in Reg’s footsteps.  Turning right out of the museum, continue along Fore Street. On the left is the Spar, which he used to visit for groceries and so on. The shop front has obviously changed. Yes, things do change in Budleigh in spite of what they say.



















Carry along westwards along Fore Street and take the first road on the right, which is Chapel Street. On the left is The Premier Café where Reg would call for the best fish and chips in town.

















Opposite is The Salterton Arms, one of the pubs that he knew, still serving good food and drink.
















Retrace your steps to turn right and join the High Street. On the left is Coles the Butchers, a very traditional kind of place where Reg used to shop.


















Opposite, in a prominent position on the High Street is Staddons Garage where Reg took his car for servicing and repairs. They sometimes have interesting vintage sports cars in the window.



















Further up on the left is The Feathers, one of Reg’s favourite pubs for a meal out.

Cross over the High Street and go down Ragg Lane to Brook Lane. Turn left at the end to join The Lawn.


 




Opposite is Budleigh Salterton Medical Centre where Reg was registered as a patient.



















Just a little further on is Budleigh Library where Librarian Margaret Hallett has good memories of Reg.  He called there regularly to borrow books. 




















Head back towards the High Street, passing on the left the bakery where Reg used to shop, though it was known as The Lawn Bakery then.

We’re now going to head back towards The Feathers and take Cliff Road up to Steamer Steps and Budleigh beach.


 

















On your right is what used to be the Rosemullion Hotel, where Reg and his wife spent their first night in Budleigh. It has been converted into flats.

















But this is how the Rosemullion Hotel used to be, as shown in this old postcard.

Spend a bit of time admiring the wonderful view – plenty of benches there. I hope that before too long we'll see local pebble artist Simon Wood's personal tribute to Reg which I know will attract a lot of attention.  

Simon has made quite a name for himself in recent years with his depiction in pebbles of everything from an octopus to a 16th century galleon. I was worried that after the winter storms we wouldn't have any pebbles left at Budleigh, but in mid-March he told me: 'The beach is looking good, plenty of materials and lots of space.'  

Simon will probably need help to gather pebbles for his Reg project, and when he's ready I'll make the call. As for what the project might be, no prizes for guessing! 

Now comes a bit of a climb along the Coast Path. Just before the top, turn right into Victoria Place. 





















Here you will find Pinewood Nursing Home, where Reg died on 16 November 2008, six years after losing Lily.    

Carry on down Victoria Place and cross the B3178 to go up Station Road, passing the Public Hall on your left.


















Just a bit beyond is The Green. One of the first benches here is dedicated to Reg and his wife.















I love the inscription.

Now aim for the south-west corner of The Green where there is a path leading to Meadow Road. Go down Meadow Road to the B3178. Turn right and take the first right, called Little Knowle. It’s a peaceful part of Budleigh, with an old Baptist Chapel on the left. Follow Little Knowle until you reach the crossroads of Halse Hill, Little Knowle, Knowle Road and Dark Lane, where Reg lived. 

















Enjoy the walk up Dark Lane, following it north. It’s an ancient track through Triassic sandstone cliffs and tree roots which look almost as ancient.

























You can visit the St Peter’s Burial Ground, another peaceful place,  where  Lily is buried.

This is really the end of the Budleigh Salterton Reg Ramble. 

If you feel like doing a few extra miles take Bedlands Lane to the B3178. Turn left, follow the main road for a bit and then go right up Dalditch Lane, passing Lily Farm Vineyard  and going underneath  the old and impressively high railway bridge. A track on the right will take you  through the woods towards East Budleigh, but I’ll leave you to find that on the map.  

















You should come out almost opposite Hayes Barton, the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh, pictured here even though Reg never lived in this ancient and beautiful  house.















Turning right along Hayes Lane you will eventually come to the village of East Budleigh, opposite the Sir Walter Raleigh pub where Reg and his family enjoyed many outings.


















I'm sure you know the story of Sir Walter Ralegh, his cloak, Queen Elizabeth I and that puddle. 




























From East Budleigh you could go to the picturesque village of Otterton and spend some time at the King’s Arms, another of Reg’s favourite haunts.  


You will be relieved to know that there is a bus service back to Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth.

I hope you enjoyed the Ramble with Reg. Here's a useful map.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, and quite moving to learn about Reg and Lilly. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete