Tour of Exeter Watch
Arrival in Exeter
- When you get off the train at St David’s Station, the most logical thing to do first is to go and have a quick peek at the St David’s accommodation. There’s a little row of shops which is fairly visible once you exit the station. Just before you get to the one nearest to you, you should be able to effectively walk behind the shops and follow the road round to see the houses. This is Brunel Close and is part of St Davids along with Kingdom Mews. You’ll see that the houses are like ‘proper houses’ with driveways and letterboxes.
- When you’ve finished having a look at St Davids, go back the way you came so that you’re outside the station/in front of the little parade of shops again. Walk along the front of the shops until you reach the zebra crossing with traffic lights. When you cross the road you’ll see an archway that directs you to the campus and the town respectively. If it’s after 10 a.m. when you get there, go to town first as the shops will be open.
- Both town and campus are very clearly signposted from here using either purple or green stickers. If it’s before 10 a.m. when you get there, follow the purple signs to campus first.
Directions to town
- Go through the archway and up the little hill until you get to the main road. Basically follow the green stickers - which should be stuck to lampposts – and you’ll get to town. Not sure exactly where it brings you out as I’ve never walked that way but I have a feeling it might bring you out at the clocktower. If so then you’ll see Blackall Road to the left of the roundabout, a small square to your right and town straight ahead. Look around the square if you like – nice houses plus my favourite restaurant, the Olive Tree.
- Presumably then you’ll head towards town, which is straight ahead. Be sure to stop at my favourite coffee shop, Boston Tea Party – slightly expensive but oh so tasty. On the right you’ll see a sort of passageway with a WHSmith sign on it – you can go through there if you want, into the precinct but there’s not really much of distinction there. There is a branch of The Works, Sainsburys, a pasty shop, Woolworths, and a small independent record shop there among other stuff.
- Keep going until you reach the end of the road. If you turn left then you’ll see the huge Princesshay shopping centre (which is brand new and I’ve not actually seen it) as well as various High Street shops such as Boots, H&M and Dorothy Perkins (though these might have moved into the Princesshay now so don’t panic if you don’t see them). One thing definitely worth turning left for is Gandy Street, which is just down the side of TopShop (if you’ve turned left at the end of this road then it’s on the left-hand side…my memory is hazy about it being down the side of TopShop but keep looking on your left and you WILL see it). Basically down Gandy Street you will find some gorgeous independent shops, mostly jewellery but a few other things too.
- Once you’ve had a peek down Gandy Street, come back the way you went and turn right and keep going, past McDonalds and BHS. It seems like rather a long walk but there are lots of interesting shops further down. This is Fore Street. Depending on how far you go you’ll also see the Zephyr nightclub. Keep an eye out on your right for McCoy’s arcade, which is worth a visit for The Real McCoy, and Electric Gypsy, which both sell vintage clothing, and there’s a few funky bead shops in there too as well as a café.
- Come back up the way you went and if you like you can go back through the precinct, or you can just carry on until you reach the high street again. Would probably recommend going back via the high street as the precinct will bring you out outside the clock tower again which is a bit of a step back.
- When you reach the Clinton cards/Laura Ashley sort of area, start looking on your right for a passageway. It will take you to the cathedral yard, where there’s a few more shops, a decent tea-shop (Hanson’s…sorry, this WILL include lots of places where you can eat and drink because I am a pig lol) and of course the cathedral. If you’re feeling energetic you can walk down the right-hand side of the cathedral, past the cathedral school and follow the road down to the quayside where there are a few more shops and of course the quayside.
- When you’ve finished with the Cathedral Yard/quayside, come back out (think the passageway to the Cathedral Yard is down the side of HSBC but as with Gandy Street not totally sure). When you’ve come back out, you’ll need to turn right to get away from town. Walk all the way down towards Boots and Waterstone’s. Take a sharp right AWAY from Exeter College (near which is a popular student haunt called the Old Firehouse), which will take you down a hill towards a restaurant called Harry’s, famous for its dessert, the Harry’s Heart Attack. Follow this road along – you’ll eventually walk past a Co-op (or certainly it was a Co-op when I lived near there), and Hillsborough Avenue, where I used to live at number 1.
- To get to campus, you can either take the small alleyway which appears shortly after the Co-op, or you can follow the road you’re on all the way up until you reach the crossroads of Prince of Wales Road and Union Road. The alleyway will bring you out on Prince of Wales Road and is perfectly safe. If you take the road, you’ll be able to see Kilmorie on the right.
- When you get to the crossroads, look right – you might be able to see the Spar where I slaved my days away as a student for cold hard cash. However, you need to turn left at the crossroads (regardless of whether you took the alleyway or the main road, cross at the zebra crossing at this point) for campus. You’ll see openings signposted to Hope Hall and Lafrowda. Go under the sign for Hope Hall – you’ll see the hall of residence on your left.
- Go up the small set of steps and you’ll see signs to Lafrowda, St German’s, Pennsylvania Court and so on. If you’re in the mood, turn right and go for a little walk to see Penny C – Ransom Pickard (Randy P) is also down there, but I heard it’s been condemned and so won’t be open to students soon anyway. To see Lafrowda and the main campus, turn left at the signposts. The buildings you see immediately to your right are St Germans. There are 4 blocks in all and the one you see immediately to your right is Chagford, the ground floor flat being where I lived in my third year.
- Follow the passageway through and just past the bike sheds on your right you’ll see Lafrowda blocks Q and R – I lived on the top floor of block Q in my first year. The blocks with the green panels on the front are enhanced blocks and cost about £10 more per week. The ones with the yellow-grey panels are standard blocks.
- All of the blocks are clearly labelled and basically the blocks you don’t want to be in are K, J, L, and M as they are closest to the student nightclub! Fine if you don’t mind a lot of noise…
- On your left you’ll see Rowe House – mostly for postgrads and returners but some undergrads live there too. Keep following the road that Rowe House is on, and you’ll soon reach Cornwall House – our ‘union’ if you like. The Lemmy is there, as is Café Ritazza and the Refectory (where you can buy food and drink) and so is the Porters’ Lodge, where you’ll collect your post from if you live in Lafrowda, St Germans or Rowe House. The porters will also sell you stamps, drinks and snacks. When you get to the outside of Cornwall House, your luck is in if you see a battered silver Toyota Corolla outside, as it means you’ll get to meet the fabulous Gulam, who is basically Mr T in the guise of a porter. Talk to him if he’s there and he’ll give you all the inside stories (and probably have you in stitches too). Before going in, take a peek round the left-hand side of the building at the swimming pool (open summer term only).
- Once you’ve been enlightened by Gulam, walk through the Lemmy and out of the big blue doors. Follow the path round – you’ll go past the School of Business and Economics, and then as you cross the road (Rennes Drive), you’ll go past Amory Building, which houses Classics, History, Geography and various other courses. Go up the hill and on your left you’ll see a big metal barrier and a small parade of shops (none of which will be open on a Sunday). Have a look at the shops (Fifth Avenue it is not, but adequate for student needs) and the library (you can get in without a student card but I think it only opens between 2 and 6 on a Sunday). Once you’ve done that, swing round to the right (past the cashpoint) where you’ll see a big scary Japanese statue. You’ll also see Devonshire House – a real social hub of the uni where the majority of the societies meet. You might hear radio blaring out of the speakers – this is usually the uni radio station, Xpression FM, but when off air XFM is sometimes played.
- Go up the steps and through the doors. To your left you’ll see the box office, where you can buy your tickets for balls, events and gigs. To your right you’ll see a load of copies of Exepose, the uni newspaper (feel free to pick up a copy, it’s free) and through the double doors you’ll see the uni shop, the Works (part of the careers service) and the Ram (take some ID with you just in case - you should be fine in the day but on weekend evenings you won't get let in without a uni ID at all, unfortunately) – sample their famous fries and dodgy chicken nuggets if you dare…
- Once you’re done Ramming it (eloquent expression there), go out the way you came (toilets are just round the corner from the Ram if you need them) so that you’re standing in the foyer. Walk through the double doors immediately ahead of you and you’ll find yourself in yet another eatery area. Keep going and you’ll also see the M&D room where the University Theatre Company (EUTCo) performs a lot of plays and where CinSoc show all their films. Go through the doors on your right opposite the M&D room and up the stairs to the next floor. You’ll find the JCR here – a lot of societies use this as a meeting place/rehearsal area but people hang out here during the day too. Turn left and go through the dining area – they do good food in here but the service can be slow.
- When you go out of the doors, you’ll see the Refectory to your left and a salad bar to your right. If you go through the Refectory you’ll find the Starbucks franchise and yet another eatery. In between the Refectory and the salad bar you’ll see the stairs – go down them and you’ll be back in the foyer again. Go out the main doors, down the steps and then take a sharp right past a huge yellow sculpture thing. Go under the archway and you’ll see Queen’s Building on your left, which houses English, Film Studies and languages. Directly in front of Queen’s is a lovely green space, which includes a Barbara Hepworth sculpture, and is great for relaxing in the summer.
- Presuming you don’t choose to end here, turn right and go up the hill a bit towards the building that looks like a spaceship. This is the Peter Chalk Centre and you will in all likelihood have some lectures here too. (If you want to see some science buildings, swing round to the right of PCC and follow the road round to Geoffrey Pope and Laver Buildings.) Before getting there, you can go down the path (there are signs to lit and unlit pathways – either one is fine to take) and follow it round towards one of the campus’ most beautiful buildings and grounds. Reed Hall is primarily used for administration these days, but it is gorgeous and a lot of societies have their formal balls here too. In front of Reed Hall you'll see Nash Grove, which is I think unfortunately postgrad only now.
- Go back up the way you came, and go back down towards Queen’s building.
Going back to St Davids
- From Queen’s Building, follow the main road down the hill. On your left you’ll see the chapel and on your right you’ll see the pretty fountain, which is usually quite a tranquil area, hidden behind some foliage.
- When you get to the Washington Singer building (the huge one on your left almost directly opposite the fountain) take a sharp left and you’ll see Knightley, a music and drama building, on your right. (You’ll know you’ve gone the wrong way if you see tennis courts.) When you get to the junction turn right, and then when you get to the next junction turn left. There should be red signs on the lampposts directing you to the station.
- On your way down you’ll see the Imperial – perfect student stop for reasonably priced food and drink! (And of course, a toilet break if you need one at this point.)
- Keep following the red signs – they’ll take you down the alleyway towards the arch where you started.
- When you get to the bottom of the hill, you’ll see St Davids quite clearly. If you have the time or inclination, go round to the right of the station and go over the level crossing towards the River Exe if it’s a nice day. The village just beyond is called Exwick – I have known people who have lived there as students.
If it’s chucking it down with rain or your legs are hurting, you can get the bus to campus from town. Should be no more than £1. Go back onto the road with the clocktower, just round the corner from JJB Sport/Tesco/M&S and stay on the M&S side of the road where the pillar box is. Get on the green bus and it’ll take you to campus. The disadvantage of this is that you might not get to see all the bits of campus that you want to – the route I’ve chosen should cover everything you want, but if you get the bus you might miss bits you want to see.
Wear flat shoes and take an umbrella!
Take some ID in case you want to go into the Ram or Imperial. You shouldn’t need it during the day on a Sunday, but you never know…
It is perfectly possible to do this tour backwards. When you get to the archway across the road to the station, follow the signs to campus and when you get there, go up the hill past Knightley and Washington Singer, towards Queen's. There is a big campus map just up from Knightley so it should be easily followable from there. Work your way back down to Cornwall House and then through, down Pennsylvania Road or the alleyway to town and then back to St Davids (again will be clearly signposted on lampposts).
Anyone who wants this can feel free to print out and use it. Just don't pass it off as your own, eh?
I think most academic buildings/sites of interest are covered. Let me know if I've missed anything significant
One thing - its Purple stickers to campus and green to the town centre, and red to the stations. Its not a huge problem as the stickers are labelled 'City Centre' and 'Stations/St Davids Station/Central Station' and 'University of Exeter, Streatham Campus' Just may confuse people slightly
*any excuse to come back for a visit*
EDIT: I think theres a mens clothes shop around that area as well - cant remember which side of Gandy Street it is though!
I must say the bead shops were one of my favourite things about Exeter. And the tea shops.
Where awesome men obtain their clothing.