Friday, July 28, 2017

Playing the Touist: Lyme Regis

There are places you see pictures of and think, there, I want to go to there. That is how it is with me and Lyme Regis. The water crashing against the Cobb is, to me, what it should be like when you visit the coast. Yes, much can be said about a nice beach, but unless you have some wind and great crashing waves, well, do you really feel the power of the ocean? Lyme Regis is made all the more desirable as a travel destination by it's literary connections. John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman as well as Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures about fossil hunter Mary Anning are set there. But of course it's the connection to Jane Austen and Persuasion that make it a sacred site to me. When the company from Uppercross sets out for Lyme Regis little do they know how it will change all their fates. This is where Anne's bloom begins to return. This is where she first sets eyes on her cousin Mr. Elliot. While much sorrow is attached to this trip because of Louisa's fall, this is the place where Captain Wentworth starts to realize that Anne still has a hold on his heart and that Louisa's accident might forever destroy his chances of regaining Anne's hand. Lyme Regis is the linchpin of their happily ever after and therefore should not be missed by the true Janeite.

But what is really interesting about Lyme Regis is that unlike other Austen travel sites this one would be approved of by Jane herself! While Bath is a must, Jane hated Bath. And other locations where often just visited in her mind, but Lyme Regis? Jane visited Lyme Regis at least twice, once in 1803 and again the next summer in 1804. By the way she describes Lyme Regis in Persuasion you can feel her love for the place coming through. Her esteem is pouring off the page: the Cobb itself, its old wonders and new improvements, with the very beautiful line of cliffs stretching out to the east of the town, are what the stranger's eye will seek; and a very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better... these places must be visited, and visited again, to make the worth of Lyme understood. Thankfully Lyme Regis has not shied away from their Austen connection and their Literary Lyme Walking Tours are now officially Jane Austen Tours! They operate several types of Jane Austen Tours, from short tours to day tours, from Lyme Regis all the way to Bath and any other city by arrangement. But as this post is about Lyme Regis, perhaps I'd start there, standing on the Cobb.


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