I arrived at Lyme Regis late in the afternoon. I had a small map of the town in my Lonely Planet guide, and the street on which my B&B was located seemed quite normal â€“ until I turned in to it â€“ it was no more than a glorified footpath! Thankfully only one-way traffic, although I had my doubts to begin with! Lyme Regis is a tiny village tucked into the side of a valley in a little bay. The houses, all white and pastel pinks and yellows seem to tumble into each other. Being mid-winter it was very quiet, and unfortunately a few places I would liked to have visited were closed.
My B&B, Coombe House, was very pleasant, and the hosts lovely and interesting people. Hughâ€™s comments in their little introductory folder were very entertaining! I stayed for two nights, as I wanted to have a full day to wander about the town.
My main reason for choosing to visit Lyme Regis rather than any other adorable seas-side village was because it was one of the settings for my favourite Jane Austen novel, Persuasion. I had read that Austen visited the place with her family, and really loved the place. I had also enjoyed the film adaptation starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. I wanted to see the places that featured in both the novel and the film.
I spent the day wandering along the seashore, making my way slowly to the Cobb, the protective wall that enables the bay to be used as a port. In spite of the fact it was winter, and it was snowing wildly throughout most of the rest of England, it was a perfect day, with a clear blue sky and sunshine. The beach was pebbled, and I loved the swish the water made on the smooth rocks. I walked along the Cobb until I found the steps Louisa was supposed to have fallen down. The steps Jane Austen had in mine are called â€˜Grannyâ€™s Teethâ€™, and were a little too precarious to tempt me to walk down them. A little way further along were another, more stable, set of steps that were used in the film adaptation.
I returned to the town to wander up the high street â€“ a very steep climb to the top! The town seems largely unspoiled by tacky tourism, and there were some charming shops. I found a sweet little second-hand bookshop at which I found a copy of Baedeker about Italy. I had always wanted to see this book since I had read A Room With a View. I couldnâ€™t resist buying it, although at 25 pounds, I have no immediate intention of flinging it into the Arno when I visit Florence! It came in quite cold in the late afternoon, and even began to snow a little.
I left the following morning well satisfied with my visit to Lyme Regis. I really did fall in love with the place and should love to visit again some day. My B&B host encouraged me to visit one of the local charity shops to buy the copy of Persuasion she had seen there for only a pound, particularly as I was now heading to Bath. I am glad I took her up on the suggestion as I devoured it in two weeks â€“ being able to picture the places Austen writes about really does bring the novel alive!