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Train Journey into the Past

Last Friday, the first day of March, Pioneers set off on an adventure to Exeter.

As we left the village on the minibus, the heavens opened and we were assailed by a hail storm, the icy spheres beating a rattling tattoo on the roof of the bus. Fortunately, the storm was a brief one.

We weren’t going all the way to Exeter on the minibus: we completed the last part of the outward journey on a train on the Dartmoor Line (reopened in November 2021), which we boarded at Okehampton station. The journey, which took about 40 minutes, took us to Exeter Central station, a short walk from the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.

The museum, described as a jewel in a Venetian casket, was opened in 1868 and contains many different collections, many of local, national and international importance and outstanding historical or cultural significance.

Perhaps the best known exhibits are the ones about the natural world and human creativity over the millennia, and the various cultures of the world: there is a wonderful assemblage of fossils and minerals (not to mention the stuffed animals), and human artefacts, including tools and costumes across the ages. After exploring the museum, rumbling tummies were insistent that it was time for lunch.

Snaking along sun-bathed streets, we made our way to Exeter cathedral and had our lunch on a sunny cathedral green. After lunch, we entered the cathedral and completed the Saints Treasure Hunt.

Each of the ten saints in our hunt have symbols that represent them (for example, the fishing net of Saint Andrew). The saints had ‘lost’ these symbols, and it was our task to search for them hidden around the building; it didn’t take us too long to find all the missing items. With satisfied smiles on our faces, it was time to make our way back to the station to catch the train back to Okehampton. As we weaved our way through our fellow pedestrians to the station, we took the opportunity to pass the ‘house that moved’. The ‘house that moved’ is a 700-year-old Tudor merchant’s house that was moved (intact) in 1961 90 metres from the corner of Edmund Street to West Street to allow for a new road layout. However, we don’t think that it really would qualify as a mobile home!

At Exeter Central, we had just enough time to have a quick snack and a pit-stop before our train departed. In what seemed like no time at all, we arrived at Okehampton, clambered onto the minibus and were on the road back to school. Thanks to Mr Mould for organising the trip, and to Mrs Langford, Mrs Mart and Mr L for accompanying us. It had been a grand day out!