The final nine nights of our September New England holiday were spent on Cape Cod at one of our very favourite places : The Lamb and Lion Inn at Barnstable. This year was our fourth visit but this shrank in insignificance when we met two couples who had been visiting for their 18th and 23rd times respectively.
The Lamb and Lion Inn right on the 6A
So, I was pretty familiar with the Old King’s Highway but have only on more recent visits realised the full historical significance of this road. When you cross the Sagamore Bridge you join Highway 6 the main dual carriageway that links the Sagamore with Provincetown 72 miles away. However, to reach the Lamb and Lion and follow a slower pace and drop down a gear or two you need to take the Route 6A to the north.
The 6A leaves the 6 at Sagamore and rejoins it just west of the town of Orleans and in total the OKH is 34 miles long and traverses seven towns and is just yards from the beach in some places. In fact it is hard to realise that you are so near the seaside as you drive along but turn left (north) down almost any lane as you drive from Sagamore to Orleans and you’ll find sandy beaches hugging Cape Cod Bay or, nearest to us at the L&L, the lovely sheltered Barnstable Harbour.
Sunset at Barnstable Harbor Beach
When we stay on Cape Cod we have a very limited “comfort zone” so the part of The Old King’s Highway that I’m going to tell you about is just that between Barnstable and Dennis. I just checked on Mapquest and it’s a distance of about 11 miles.
I have tried to find out exactly which “Old King” the highway is named for but it’s not mentioned in the bits of literature that I have collected and no sign on “Google” either. I assumed King George III but it’s much older than that – a late 17th century extension of the King’s Highway from Plimouth. The whole of it is designated a Regional Historic District and is the largest such district in America. It is also one of America’s most scenic highways.
“This 34 mile roadway winds through 7 cape towns, past hundreds of historic sites and landscapes, including farmsteads, cranberry bogs, salt marshes, sea captain’s homes, and village greens.”
In addition there’s America’s oldest library (The Sturgis Library), a famous artist’s home (Edward Gorey), a Coastguard Museum, a unique secondhand bookshop (Parnassus Books), an Historic New England property (The Winslow Crocker House), great eateries and interesting, one-of-a-kind shops and galleries, roadside fruit and veg. stalls (we recommend the heritage tomatoes), shipyards and churches and cemeteries and all of those just within our 11 mile zone.
Historic House plaque – one of very many along the 6A
Deacon John Hinckley House (one of many historic properties along 6A)
Thomas Hinckley Lived Near Here – such signs abound on the 6A!
Inside The Sturgis Library, Barnstable
The Trayser Coastguard Museum, Barnstable
Hallet’s Soda Fountain
My ice cream soda is ready!
Parnassus Books (so much more inside!)
The Winslow Crocker House
(Sea) Captain Bang’s Hallet House
Edward Gorey House
Sesuit Harbor Cafe