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Getting Here

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crossroads_signpostLocation

Gaia House is a historic listed building set deep in the peaceful countryside of South Devon, UK, with views of the scenic wilds of Dartmoor National Park. We are a mile from the nearest village of Denbury and four miles from the nearest town of Newton Abbot – about half way between the cities of Exeter and Plymouth.

Please scroll down the page to find detailed information on the different ways to get to Gaia House.

Gaia House’s carbon footprint

Having analysed Gaia House’s carbon footprint, we are aware that retreatant travel, and particularly flights, is the dominant source of greenhouse gas emissions linked to our operations.

We warmly encourage the use of land-based public transport, car and taxi-sharing, as well as arriving by bike to help reduce the carbon footprint of Gaia House’s activities. Access our lift share message board.

Click here to read an inspiring account from a retreatant who has travelled to Gaia House overland from Finland several times

Anna Backholm, Finland:

“It’s not like I never fly. I had almost stopped, but then the Dharma started drawing me to India and the US. Sometimes it feels there’s reason enough, maybe, though the decision to fly never feels easy. But within Europe, as much as possible, overland travel has become the norm for me. At least one way. Six times to Gaia House so far, from Finland, where home is. Usually for somewhat longer stretches of time. For just one week, travel that could take 2-3 days and 2 nights, one way, might be a lot.

One gets used to things. And it has become a part of what a long retreat is for me. Leaving the busy life at home, last minute to-do-lists. The first bit of the trip is often quite fidgety, then gradually landing to meet what’s inside, underneath. On the way back, the first shock of meeting crowds of people, outside-of-retreat ways of life. Then gradually finding my way back to my centre. Maybe also seeing some shifts, from the retreat, how I might relate a bit differently from how I used to. Getting this time to sense into who I might be now, before meeting the people and the life back home.

Meditating, reading, listening to talks, just being. I used to not do Internet, but data roaming getting cheaper and cheaper, wifis appearing, things change. Why not also connect a bit, gradually? Take time to slowly go into the pile of e-mails. Start searching for the next retreat or course… And then I find myself fully caught up in the digital world, checking one thing after another, frustrated when the signal is momentarily lost. Remembering again how this addictive pull is one of the big challenges in the life outside of retreat.

These are not always easy, these times of slow transition, sitting or half lying down in various trains, buses, ferry. And yet often it feels there’s a value. The time is needed. To my surprise, I may even find myself looking forward to these stretches of time, just for myself, in a kind of no-man’s land between one life and another. Seeing the scenery go by, concretely sensing the distance I travel.

And there is the deep sense of alignment within. I can do it this way, my life situation permits using the extra days. And I wish to do it this way. For nature, for us, for all and everything that is to be affected if, or maybe when, climate drastically changes. Knowing my possible flight might not be much in this world of 100,000 flights per day. And yet feeling clearly this direction within. I am the one whose decisions I can make. What I choose has a meaning and resonance in myself. And who knows what might ripple out.

On the practical side, there’s many ways to do it. Some people take their time and travel in short steps, visiting friends and places on the way, sleep in beds. Travelling overnight is kind of an easy way to cover distance, though. So I often lean towards that, even though they no longer operate the handy overnight train from Cologne to Copenhagen. Overnight buses do take it to another level of challenge. But weirdly, I am starting to find even two night buses in a row a do-able thing, being quite healthy, not the worst sleeper, and good at curling up in a horizontal posture if I happen to get two seats.

One somewhat extreme, cheap combination, which I’m using while writing this, is bus from London to Germany, waking up for passport controls, and for the ferry, if we do not use the tunnel. Then a day of trains, another night bus from Copenhagen to Stockholm, and a day ferry over to Turku, Finland, through the beautiful archipelago. Or it could be more trains, which is quicker, especially for crossing the Channel. Or a night ferry to Turku, or directly to Helsinki, though that one does have a bigger carbon footprint. Or for different, quite lovely sceneries, there’s a route through Poland and the Baltic States: Direct bus from Berlin to Tallinn, 25 hours, or Warsaw to Tallinn 17 hours, then a short ferry trip to Helsinki.

Overland travel is more expensive than flying. That’s one weird fact about our world. To keep it still affordable, I try to book early. www.goeuro.com is one websites to start from, showing both trains and buses, though sometimes the options are a bit limited. It’s often better to search in pieces, and the trick is to know to and from where. You can try different cities, and suddenly there’s some nice cheap option. Often I book with www.bahn.de, a connection to somewhere in Germany, and another one onwards from there. You can find special fares for these, especially when booked exactly three months in advance. www.seat61.com gives some great advice. For last minute plans, I tend to go more towards buses.

When the trip approaches, there’s one more thing to plan. What shall I eat? To nourish myself, to enjoy myself. As I’m both vegan and gluten-free, and love to go cheap, I need to put in some effort. In which cities might I have time to find a food store? What doesn’t go bad? Nuts, dried fruit, avocados, other veg, canned beans or lentils, peanut butter, chocolate… In each country it is quite different what you can find. Some are havens for just any type of ready-made food, wrapped in horrible plastic. I find even cooked quinoa that does not need to be kept cold. Some countries have great salad bars in food stores. Some have such a variety of vegan spreads in glass jars. And the tiny tetra packs of almond or soy milk, just enough for one portion of muesli, are actually easiest to find in Finland.

There is some limit there. Finally getting home, I feel I might not wish to do this kind of a trip again for quite a few months. It is work, too. But might that give a reason to fly? Or to see that yes, distances are long, so I only travel as often as feels do-able? At the moment it turns towards the latter. Luckily we have a real abundance of retreats and things taking place in Finland, too. Long distances are only needed at times.”

A graph showing our carbon footprint analysis

 

Info on different transport options

Getting here by rail or coach

 Gaia House is accessible by train or coach to Newton Abbot in South Devon.

  • By train, the journey is less than three hours from London Paddington (Great Western Railway) and four hours from London Waterloo (South West Trains) (often a cheaper route). Trains to Newton Abbot are on the Exeter to Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance lines.
  • There is a National Express coach from London Victoria direct to Newton Abbot, arriving next to the Railway station. This coach trip is about a five hour journey.

 Useful tips:

  • It is advisable (and often cheaper), to make reservations for the coach or train at least 7 days in advance of travel, and to book a return ticket.
  • Train and coach tickets can sometimes (but not always) be cheaper if you book a ticket to Exeter, then book a separate ticket from Exeter to Newton Abbot.
  • Because of continuing rail line works, you may be delayed or need to transfer to a replacement bus service at some point in your journey, especially when travelling on a Sunday.

Links:

 

Share a lift or taxi
Please consider arranging a car/taxi share to make your journey as carbon neutral as possible. To arrange a lift or a taxi share from Newton Abbot or further afield, please leave a message on our lift share message board.

Please do not make any travel arrangements until your retreat place has been confirmed by Gaia House, and check the time you need to be at Gaia House for registration – for most group retreats this is between 2pm and 5pm.

One person in your group will need to book a taxi in advance with Teignbridge Taxis, letting them know what time to pick you up from the station, and how many people will be sharing the taxi. On the closing day of group retreats we will organise taxi shares back to Newton Abbot.

Teignbridge Taxis – 01626 333 333

 

How to get here by car

If coming from north (e.g. London, Bristol):

  • Stay on M5 until it ends and becomes the A38
  • Take A382 to Newton Abbot (for 3 miles)
  • At roundabout take 2nd exit A383 signposted Ashburton
  • After just over 1 mile turn left on to Orchard Grove leading to Chercombe Bridge Road (Opposite Newton Abbot Car Centre)
  • Take 1st left to stay on Chercombe Bridge Road
  • Follow road for 1.5 miles past sign for East Ogwell, turn right at signpost
  • Continue down here for 0.5 miles and through the hamlet of West Ogwell
  • Gaia House is on right, up a sweeping drive and next to the church.

 If coming from south (e.g. Plymouth):

  • From A38 take A383 to Newton Abbot
  • After just under 4 miles turn right on to Orchard Grove leading to Chercombe Bridge Road (Opposite Newton Abbot Car Centre)
  • Take 1st left to stay on Chercombe Bridge Road
  • Follow road for 1.5 miles past sign for East Ogwell, turn right at signpost
  • Continue down here for 0.5 miles and through the hamlet of West Ogwell
  • Gaia House is on the right, up a sweeping drive and next to the church.
  • Please avoid driving on the grass verges in West Ogwell. In wet weather particularly they quickly become rutted and unsightly, which upsets local people who tend these areas and destroys flower bulbs planted in the soil. In snowy or icy weather, drive first to Denbury (the roads are always gritted to Denbury), and then from Denbury to West Ogwell.

 

Nearest airports

From London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted or Luton Airport:

  • From Heathrow Airporttake a Rail-Air link bus to Reading Railway Station for the direct First Great Western service to Newton Abbot. Alternatively there is a National Expresscoach direct to Newton Abbot.
  • From London Gatwick Airport, either take the Thames train to Reading (then change for Newton Abbot); or take the Thames train to London Victoria – where you can pick up the coach – or travel via London Undergroundto Paddington Station for the train. Alternatively, use easyBus or National Express.
  • From Stansted Airport,take the Stansted Express train service to Liverpool Street Station in London, or use easyBus or National Express, or Terravision. From Liverpool Street Station travel via the Underground (District, Circle or Hammersmith Lines) to Paddington Station. Or take the London Underground Central Line to Tottenham Court Road, changing to Northern Line (South) for Waterloo Station.
  • From Luton Airport, take the First Capital Connecttrain to St Pancras, then take the Underground (or walk!) to Paddington. Alternatively, use easyBusNational Express, or Terravision. If you go to Victoria, take the Underground to Paddington or Waterloo.

 

How to get from Newton Abbot to Gaia House

By local bus
  • The Country Bus Timetable shows the times for bus 176, which runs between Newton Abbot and Denbury, but it is not a very frequent service. To get to the Sherborne Road bus station from the rail station in Newton Abbot, follow the walking route instructions below to step 3, but when you get to Courtenay Street turn right, then turn left along Sherborne Street to find the bus station.
  • From Denbury you will need to walk to Gaia House (about a mile’s walk): From South Street, turn right into East Street, continue on this road (keeping left at a fork) until you reach a T junction, then turn left, and Gaia House is sign-posted to the right.
OR
On foot or by bike

 There are two possible walking routes from Newton Abbot Railway Station to Gaia House:

  • Cyclists or walkers, especially for the muddy months, can follow small roads, using this Bing route(about 3.5 miles: 1 hour and 10 minutes) Please wear high visibility clothing, and watch for traffic.
  • WALKERS ONLY: Using mainly footpaths, for the dryer months (or for the hardier types), here are some directions (about 4 miles: 1 hour and 25 minutes):
  1. Leave the station, cross the road, turn right (West).
  2. Walk down Queen Street past all the shops for about 0.5 miles.
  3. When the road ends at the junction, turn left onto Courtenay Street, then straight on along the pedestrianised shopping area.
  4. At the end of the pedestrianised shopping area, just before a clock tower, turn right down Bank Street (you pass a bookshop and the Country Table cafe on your right).
  5. At the end of Bank Street, you see an enormous Asda looming to your left: head towards the entrance.
  6. As you get to Asda, there is a river running parallel to the front entrance (the River Lemon): your route takes you along that river past Asda (heading West), initially following tarmac cycle lanes on its right (North) bank.
  7. Go under a bridge, carry on, following the river adjacent to some industrial premises. Don’t cross the footbridge on your left towards the houses.
  8. The path comes to a junction alongside another narrow bridge. Turn right past the backs of the houses, then follow the path around to the left.
  9. Carry on this path! Go around an open area past the entrance to Bradley Manor.
  10. Now follow the river through the woods and across open fields for about a mile, before crossing a narrow lane by a ford.
  11. Carry on following the river, over another field then back into the woods for another kilometre.
  12. The path brings you out through someone’s garden.
  13. Come out onto the road, turn left, go over the bridge, turn right up the steep muddy and rocky lane, and at the top continue to the right on the tarmac road.
  14. Follow this road for 500m until you get to a crossroads: a dirt road is on the left adjacent to a barn, and a tarmac road is on the right.
  15. Turn left, go through the gate and down the hill to the stream.
  16. Follow the footpath up the hill, through a series of fields, heading for the stiles or gates in a South-West direction.
  17. When you get to West Ogwell church at the top of the hill, go through the churchyard to come into Gaia House from the front.