Posted by: glenswatman | June 21, 2013

20130611-20 Devon & Cornwall

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TUESDAY 11 JUNE – Looks like summer is over for now as we had rain in the night and it is still drizzling as we take our breakfast.  Heading down the coast we try to drive the Paignton walking trail with atmospheric cliff top views through the mist.  In Totnes we follow the town trail and admire some lovely old buildings.  Tuesday mornings they hold an Elizabethan market with stall holders dressed in costume.  We joined English Heritage before we left so visit Totnes Castle (£3.60).  It’s really just a circular defence on the top of a hill with little to see and poor views through the drizzle.  A couple of miles drive takes us to the ruins of Berry Pomeroy Castle (EH £4.90).  There’s a free audio guide and it really makes the ruins come to life with lots of stories.  Final castle of the day is the presently lived in Compton Castle (NT £5).  A couple of interesting facts we glean are that one of the original owners acquisitioned Newfoundland and was half brother to Sir Walter Raleigh.  We’re a bit castled out so it’s lovely to stop off in the village of Cockington and make the most of the dry spell to ample around past the thatched homes and through the parkland.  Whilst the weather is holding we visit Babbacombe with a lovely cliff top coastal walk.  There are problems here with landslides and we can see ruins on the cliff top.  Someone didn’t heed the advice of “Homes under the hammer” and bought it at auction unseen for £155,000 and a week later lost half to a landslide.  We detour on the way back to look at The Gleneagles Hotel, now run by Best Western it became famous as the inspiration for Fawlty Towers when John Cleese stayed there.  The only indication of this today is that they call the bar “Basils Bar”.  Back at our hotel I fit in half an hour’s swim in the indoor pool before our evening meal.


WEDNESDAY 12 JUNE – We use the ferry to get to Dartmouth, at £4.70 for a car it is a real money spinner taking only 5 minutes.  Dartmouth has some really lovely old buildings but it is rainy so we don’t linger.  Dartmouth Castle is more like a fort (EH £5) in a strategic position at the entrance to the river.  Our coastal journey would be wonderful on a sunny day but today it’s often hard to see the ocean through the pounding rain.  On Blackpool Beach we are almost envious of the people parked up having coffee in their cosy motorhome.  Slapton Sands was used as a training area for the D-Day invasion; recently they round a Sherman tank off the coat and now have it on display as a memorial to the many that lost their lives.  The road towards Overbeck House (NT £7.50) near Salcome is amazing, Very steep and narrow with lots of hairpins winding down then across bays and up again, definitely not motorhome territory.  The house is the Edwardian home of an eccentric scientist and contains a polyphon Victorian music box as well as his own invention the rejuvenator.  Over a cream tea the rain fails to stop so with brollys up we brave it to view the amazing terraced gardens complete with plants from all over the world, some most unusual sculptures and glimpses of fantastic coastal views.  On the way back we call in to view High Cross House (NT £7.20) a modernist house.  What a waste of time with very little to see inside and out, so glad we have membership and didn’t pay full price to visit.


THURSDAY 13 JUNE – Greenway was the summer home of Agatha Christie (NT £9) and we thoroughly enjoy the tour around the house.  Interestingly Agatha trained to be a concert pianist but hated performing and this changed the course of her life.  Her second husband Max was an archaeologist and the house is full of things collected during their trips abroad.  After a quick look at the gardens we head off to our next property Colton Fishacre (NT £9).  Today it is a little brighter and not raining so we begin in the magnificent gardens that go all the way down to a cove.  There are plants from all over the world and it is magnificent.  In the bay we spot a sea in the water.  The house itself is equally impressive originally belonging to the D’Oyle Carte family and done in Art Deco style from the 1930’s.  The style seems timeless and it would still be a magnificent home today with lime washed wood and fabulous furnishings and accessories, so much more impressive than yesterday’s modernist offering.  Brixham is quite an attractive fishing port banking steeply up a hillside and makes for a pleasant hours stroll.


FRIDAY 14 JUNE – We easily park in Plymouth and begin our walk in the old Barbican district with many historical things including the Mayflower steps.  The Hoe is a magnificent stretch of lawn with many war memorials and naturally tributes to Sir Francis Drake.  We continue the walk to do a good circuit back through the back streets.  Crossing the Tamar Bridge we drive into Cornwall then down more country lanes to Carbeil Caravan Site near Downderry.  It’s a naturist site and we have booked a static caravan for the week.  Kelly meets us and shows us around and explains facilities.  It’s a dull and drizzly afternoon so we are happy just to settle in.


SATURDAY 15 JUNE – Driving along the coast we are a little surprised how poor the beaches are being mainly pebbly and grey.  Admittedly the grey skies do nothing to enhance the area.  Looe is a very attractive small town, the planned regatta has been cancelled due to the poor weather forecast but many entrants have turned up and stroll the town complete with Viking style hats. Polperro is such a narrow fishing village in a valley that you have to park on the outskirts and walk in.  It is really attractive with narrow roads, pretty houses and lots of streams.  At the picture perfect harbour we pick up take away fish and chips and sit and enjoy the view.  Back at Carbeil we are lucky enough to be able to strip off and enjoy the warm sun between clouds.


SUNDAY 16 JUNE – The rain is back so we have a lazy day reading and festering.  Turns out that although Devon & Cornwall are often seen to have the highest temperatures in England they also have lots of rain.


MONDAY 17 JUNE – They say there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing.  Well we put on our waterproof coats and set out for a walk along the beach but I’m not sure who we are kidding.  With the wind and rain beating into our faces it really isn’t fun.  It fairs up in the afternoon and we chat to motorhomers Roger & Veronica who come from Sussex.  Unfortunately Steve can’t join us when we have a wallow in the hot tub.


TUESDAY 18 JUNE – Time to play tourist again and we start off at Restormel (EH £4) where there is a ruined castle, very little to see and very few people bothering to!  Nearby Lanhydrock (£12.20 NT) is  the busiest property we have been to.  It’s a Victorian house with beautiful gardens and it was used in the Alice in Wonderland movie.  Inside the mansion we are amazed by just how many rooms there are in the kitchen section complete with all mod cons such as a massive spit roast that would hold a cow and a marble table with a channel for cool water to keep the products on top chilled.  A highlight is an amazing plaster ceiling with figures showing stories from the bible.  Leaving National Trust properties you are funnelled through a shop, Disney style, and there we find a wonderful AA 1001 walks in Britain book reduced from £30 to £10.  It’s like a ring binder with each page having 3 walks on each side and you take the page out, fold it and slot it into a supplied plastic sleeve.  With walks ranging from 2 – 10 miles it will be perfect for us.  Rough Guide recommends Blisland where we walk a number of muddy farm tracks but fail to find the famous Jubilee Stone on the moors, as Steve puts it “another fine mess you have got us into”.  We journey across Bodmin Moor encountering shaggy cows, sheep and wild horses.  Golitha Falls are a pleasant woodland walk but the falls are more like rapids over a few boulders.   Siblyback Reservoir is a lovely spot with a water ski track.  We’d stop for a drink at the cafe but with a minimum of £2 to park it makes it an expensive drink.  At Minions we follow an AA walk and are really impressed by the standing stone circles known as the Hurlers and then the climb up to Cheesewring.  At the top are numerous natural rock piles and magnificent views all around.  In Upton Cross we check out the outdoor theatre which puts on many popular shows.  Nearby live Viv & Laurie who we have made contact with through Hospitality Club and are visiting for a meal.  Viv’s son has had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is now cured and has gone on to have 2 children which is really inspiring.  They are a really well travelled couple and have often taken a couple of years off work at a time to explore the world in particular Asia.  After a delicious curry we watch some really good compilation photo clips of their travels and compare notes.


WEDNESDAY 19 JUNE – Hooray it’s a sunny day and perfect for sitting out and making the most of it.  Late afternoon we walk to the local Spar for a few groceries and some delicious ice cream.


THURSDAY 20 JUNE – Heading east along the coast the area by Freathy is remote but very attractive with loads of individual holiday cabins built into the cliff side.  At Rame we talk to the coastguards who are keeping watch.  We’d picked out an 8 mile walk to do but intermittent rain puts us off and we settle for a shorter stroll around Mount Edgcumbe Country Park.  It’s a really attractive area with formal gardens and walks along the lovely waterfront looking over to Plymouth.  The nearby village of Cremyll is also really pretty and has a wonderful “time and tide waits for no man” clock.  Backtracking to Torpoint area we curse the country lanes as not only are they narrow with high sides obstructing visibility but it is now really misty.  Antony is another NT house ((£8.30) owned by the Carew-Poles family who still live there today but hand it over to the National Trust a few afternoons a week.  Every room has dark wood panelling and lots of enormous dark family portraits.  The family are obviously avid readers and travellers judging by the quantity and type of books in every room.  There are some attractive features in the garden including a few hidden modern sculptures.  It’s still miserable weather so we head back.




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