From a North American point of view the distances in Britain should be negligible. The distance from Morchard Road to Exmouth (see the fishing trip pictures) is just over 40KM, nothing, this is the distance I have to drive cross town in Calgary to take my daughter to visit a friend, a mere 25 minutes of driving.
In Britain, for a variety of reasons, the same distance takes about an hour and a half. My father in law drove us and here are my observations from that journey.
The roads in Devon are narrow, usually single lane with no shoulder, and quite a bit windier. Nothing like our straight line of sight roads in North America. Consequently, you can never really open up the throttle and achieve the speeds that one can on North American road. Clenching my teeth and death gripping the dash I checked dad’s speed and it never exceeded 90KMH and usually averaged much lower as you had to slow down passing through the numerous towns along the way. There are also few passing lanes and even then passing is challenging as the traffic is generally heavy in both directions.
Passing though Exeter took a majority of the time, although we never got stuck the way we do during rush hour in Calgary there were numerous lights and traffic circles where we had to wait our turn to go.
My overall impression is that it takes significantly more concentration to drive in Devon than I have ever had to devote to driving in North America with the wide open spaces and practically straight roads. The result is that at the end of the journey in both directions I find myself as exhausted as if I’d driven from Calgary to Vancouver rather than a mere 40 kilometres.
The alternative is to take the train which overall I have found much more enjoyable and stress free. On the way back from Exmouth Shareen and I took the train back and I’d say it wasn’t faster but much more relaxing.
My father in law states that the service has improved dramatically in the last few years, the result of which is that so far the trains are clean, run on time, and have courteous staff. Completely worth it.