Sidmouth to Falmouth
Monday 19th May 1997
We had travelled down to Devon yesterday to visit Emma and Stuart in their new place at West Hill near Ottery St Mary. We had transported Emma's bike and several other large items of theirs. After unloading and having lunch – sitting outside in the sunshine, we had a pleasant walk to the River Otter through the lovely Devon countryside. We spent the rest of the day with them and stayed the night in the Tiv.
We left after a late breakfast. The weather was rather different from yesterday – torrential rain. We headed for Sidmouth to continue our "Road Round Britain" and the rain continued. The roads were narrow and very full of the traffic. Streams gushed down the road and visibility was bad. Hence we didn't see Sidmouth in the best light! We had difficulty in finding the seafront. When we did we drove along to the eastern end and turned around by the red cliffs. Lots of small boats were scattered at this point. There were lots of "trippers" about in the rain, mostly elderly. We drove along the front to the western end of Sidmouth but couldn't take the road further westwards as there was a width restriction of 6 feet. (we have been along here by car many times since). We retraced our steps northwards to the A3052 which we took westwards to Newton Poppleford. We had wanted to turn left towards Otterton, but again there was a width restriction so we continued on the A road taking the A376 South from Newton Poppleford turning off to drive through Otterton – a very picturesque village. We recognised a pub we had stopped at when walking this area in 1982! (This is now Emma's local pub - the Kings Arms!)
It was all "no through roads" after Otterton so we returned and drove to Budleigh Salterton, where the River Otter reaches the sea. Even in the rain we could admire the red cliffs and pebbly beach and thought it would be nice for a walk on a fine day. However at this point (midday) it was still raining torrentially.
We had beans on toast for lunch, looking out to sea. By the time we had finished, the rain had stopped and the sky had cleared. It remained dry for the rest of the day, with a lot of clear blue sky. We walked into the unpretentious main Street of Budleigh Salterton. Having given it the "once over" we walked back as far as the estuary – a walk we had thought impossible an hour or two earlier. At one time there were salt pans at this point. Now it is a winding river which flows out to the sea beside the red cliffs.
With Emma outside her place at Ottery St Mary
We returned to the van. By now the Museum was open and we spent half an hour or so looking over the large amount of exhibits filling the rooms of the attractive thatched house. We drove on to Exmouth – driving first to the eastern end and had a quick walk on the sandy beach, with the red cliffs behind. We drove to the western end and walked around the old harbour area, where I remember walking before (1987). Exmouth looked attractive and well kept. We walked back, partly along the beach.
We now drove up to Lympstone on the Exe estuary, an attractive little place, but like much of Devon, not made for motorhomes! We drove back to "A la Ronde" – the National Trust property, having stopped for diesel. The house closed at 5.30, with last entry at 5.00. It was now just after 5 o'clock, so we had to be content with seeing the outside and sitting in the warm sunshine on a seat looking down to the estuary.
We drove a couple of miles to a certificated site surrounded by Devon countryside at Woodbury.
Well known to us (now) Budleigh Salterton
After supper – pizza and salad prepared by Adrian, we walked out through the village, past the church lit up behind the village green to a rather smoky pub. The night was clear and the sky still light when we returned at 10.30 pm.
The campsite at Woodbury
Tuesday 20th May
It was dull and cloudy when we awoke, but soon turned to rain. We left at 10.40 and drove via Black Hill to A la Ronde. It was raining heavily by the time we arrived – this time we were too early and had to wait for it to open. We found the many small rooms of this 16 sided "roundhouse" had plenty to see. There were lots of collections of shells and pictures made from all types of materials. The house belonged to spinster cousins in the late 1700s and later to a reverend gentleman who had altered it greatly.
We left just before 12.00 and drove northwards, diverting to drive down to the River Exe at Exton. Unfortunately today visibility was not good. We continued through Topsham and will have to stop and explore this interesting sounding place in fine weather (explored many times since).
At Countess Wear we turned left across the River Exe and remembered back to the time we stayed here in 1982. We then drove down the western side of the River Exe, skirting around Powderham Castle to Starcross and then on to Dawlish. We would have liked a walk at Dawlish Warren, but it was too wet.
It was still raining as we sat beside the railway next to the sea at Dawlish to have our lunch – a repeat of yesterday. We had almost given up hope of it ever stopping raining, but luckily it did and we walked up through Dawlish to the Museum at the far end. Here there were rooms full of memorabilia. We were sorry to have forgotten all the family history stuff regarding the Knights/Cottons and couldn't remember enough to link in to.
We walked back to the seafront, then drove along beside the sea to the far end, remembering many previous trips. Back at the Tiv we drove to the Church (of St Gregory the great) where they were just closing, but a very chatty lady (a Mrs Robbins) said we could look around. We found the register of the tombstones and with difficulty (the plan was very faded) located whereabouts the gravestones of several Knights and Cottons were. Our lady chatted on – she was a Londoner who had come to Teignmouth for a holiday when she was 17 and never went back! She had lived in Dawlish for many years.
Out in the graveyard we managed to locate the graves – all but one. They were very difficult to read and one was buried quite deeply, so Adrian used our Portuguese shovel to dig away so that we could read the bottom of it! We still couldn't locate the last tombstone and Adrian returned to the church on hearing voices in there to locate it on the plan. Imagine his embarrassment when he realised that it was the vicar and one of his parishioners having a prayer meeting!
Anyway, his quest was successful, as we now found the final gravestone – buried by the undergrowth under a tree!
We now left Dawlish, at 5.30 pm, and drove towards Holcombe. Here of course we had to stop and walk down Smugglers Lane to the sea. The tide was high and we walked under the railway bridge with difficulty and almost dry!
We returned to the Tiv and drove up through Holcombe village (past Lobster Cottage) then continued to Teignmouth.
We had intended stopping at a small site overlooking the River Teign, looking across to the cottage at Coombe Cellars we had stayed in 1992 however having located it and turned back to it, we found it locked and overgrown and with no reply from the phone number given on the sign.
We opted for plan 2 – the site slightly inland at Luton! This however entailed several tours of Bishopsteignton, which had roads closed to complicate matters, then finally finding our way past Kingsteignton along narrow Devon lanes (luckily we met no cars) to the tiny hamlet, then across a ford and into a farmyard where with difficulty we located a small strip of field which was the site.
Rosie at Holcombe
It was now 6.45 and I got busy cooking bacon, sausage and mushrooms. It rained again, but stopped later and we ventured out through the farm and the ford and back down the road and found that there was a pub right next door to the farm! We returned to the Tiv after a drink.
At the campsite at Luton, Kingsteignton
Wednesday 21st May
In contrast to the last two mornings, today started beautiful. We enjoyed breakfast outside in our seclusion. We filled the Tiv tank with water and left late, driving down into Teignmouth with lovely views from our high up position. The site had cost just £2.
We crossed the bridge to Shaldon and decided to take the road along to Coombe Cellars, where we had stayed in 1992. We sometimes wondered at the wiseness of this decision, as the road was often narrow and passing difficult. We parked in the huge pub car park and walked along the beach to the end cottage. We still thought it a fabulous location
. We walked back to the Tiv and sat on the wall enjoying the view down to the Teign estuary in the warmth.
Our return journey was just as difficult – with a small bus turning into the narrow track to the pub just before we reached the road. We stopped in Shaldon and bought rolls, cakes and cream. This was difficult too but we managed to extricate ourselves and set off towards Torquay.
We soon stopped for lunch, at the end of the car park overlooking the sea. It was really warm now and I briefly donned shorts. However, just as we finished our excellent rolls, followed by ice creams with our cream and flake, large grey clouds gathered and the rest of the afternoon was very unsettled.
We headed for Torquay, stopping first at Babbacombe and having a brief look at the sea, but the rain had already begun to fall. We drove towards Kents Cavern, an area of very nice houses and trees and were enjoying a circular trip when we came across "road closed" and had to retrace our steps. We then stopped briefly in Kilmorie car park and thought the area lovely. I can well understand why people rave about Torquay, with its attractive shops right beside the pleasant harbour. We continued round past Littlemead (memories of meeting Joyce and Dave (Canadian cousins) here many years ago) to Paignton and Roundham Head and onto Goodrington Sands – memories of a mad dash to catch the steam train from here in 1987.
The sky now was really black and cars approached with headlights on. We drove to Broadsands, but like many car parks here there was a height restriction so we turned off to Brixham. The road showed that it had rained very heavily and at Brixham it finally hit us so we weren't able to explore this attractive harbour. We did watch a group of canoeists, one of whom capsized and the leader had to help him to right his canoe and help him to shore.
We drove to Bury Head Country Park, but it was still raining. On our way through Higher Brixham we passed a fire engine and saw that there was some rather dramatic flooding.
We turned off to a certificated site near Kingswear and on finally locating it found (again) that it was no longer a site and the tenant knew nothing about it! However it is an ill wind – we found that we were very close to Coleton Fishacre Gardens designed by the D'Oyly Carte's earlier this century and owned by the National Trust.
The best things are the unexpected and these gardens were delightful. The rain had now stopped and the scent from the azaleas was quite intense. The wonderful gardens filled a valley which ended at the sea. There were many unusual plants and some lovely vistas. A real gem of a garden.
Coombe Cellars - the pub & the idyllic cottage that we stayed in beside the River Teign with Emma & Tom in 1992
We left at 5.30 (when the gardens closed) and headed for the ferry at Kingswear. However when close to the ferry point we came to a lorry and a car parked by the side of the road and couldn't get through. After a long deliberation we decided to turn around (not easy) just as a car pulled up behind us! We managed it and found an alternative route to the ferry and drove straight on and left almost immediately for Dartmouth. We thought the scenery stunning and it reminded us of Picton in New Zealand.
We headed south through the pretty and narrow village of Stoke Fleming and past the lovely Blackpool Sands to Slapton, where we stayed on a club site enjoying the evening sun.
After supper we walked down to the beach, looking exquisite in the evening light. The sea looked turquoise against the beige of the shingle beach. The sky was a wonderful mixture of orange as the sun went down and then a full moon shone on to the sea. An evening to be treasured amongst our favourite memories. We had watched the little packet boat on what must have been an evening trip.
Adrian having breakfast at the campsite at Slapton
Thursday 22nd May
It was a beautiful tranquil morning. We had breakfast outside.
We walked up into Slapton village – a delightful narrow village with the ruins of an old tower. Adrian particularly liked a private bridge from one house to its garden. We stopped at the village shop and bought the provisions we needed plus a book on the vanished village of Hallsands.
We walked back then drove to Torcross at the end of Slapton Ley, arriving about 11.30. It was midday as we set off for Beesands, walking along the shingle beach, then up and over the cliffs to Hallsands. We sat on the beach here and ate our lunch then tried to explore the old village of Hallsands which was washed away by the sea in 1917. Unfortunately due to cliff erosion, the path to it was closed. We stood at the cliff edge and tried to envisage what it was once like.
We made our return walk inland via Bickerton and Beeson. It was a lovely quiet walk with the occasional excitement of thick undergrowth and boggy ground. We have been enjoying the multitude of spring flowers – campion – in profusion, a deep magenta wild gladioli, valerian and heaps more.
The final stretch to Torcross (as an alternative to the beach) said half a mile – but it didn't say that it was vertical! We felt well exercised when we returned at 3.30. We viewed the tank on display in the car park and bought a signed copy from Ken Small of his book "The Forgotten Dead" about the thousand young American soldiers who lost their life in the D-Day missions practised here.
We now decided to drive down to Prawle Point, but almost immediately got stuck behind a flock of sheep! We finally made it through East Prawle and parked in the National Trust car park to view the coastline at Prawle Point.
We now made our way in the Tiv to East Portlemouth, but the way along the river eastwards was barred from us as being too narrow. We had been having trouble with the narrow lanes, particularly as the width is so unpredictable, often narrowing unexpectedly. We returned to East Prawle and drove north a couple of miles, turning off to Chivelstone. Having negotiated a very narrow village street, we came to a fork of two equally narrow roads. We tried one, but after a mile or so of ever narrowing high banked road we decided to turn round and retrace our steps and find the wider "narrow" roads.
We found the A379 and followed it to Kingsbridge – even this was often narrow and of course had more traffic. We thought this whole area quite lovely and particularly liked the setting of Kingsbridge. We must return and explore this area more fully with bikes/scooter and walking – it is totally unspoiled.
After Kingsbridge, we headed west and luckily we met no traffic on the tiny roads leading to the certificated site at Whitlocksworthy. The farmer here was most uninspiring and told us that they had just cut the field "we weren't expecting anyone tonight". We assured him that we didn't mind the cut grass!
We parked in the rural field and had tea and cake sitting on the long cut grass in the sunshine.
Then at 6 o'clock we set off to walk the mile or so to the sea. Quite an idyllic spot and beautifully warm. We sat a while on the sandy beach then walked up to the village of Thurlestone. From the farm we had imagined this would be a modern village of "little boxes" houses. However, the actual village was ancient, with thatched cottages with names like "Woodbine Cottage" and "Just a Cottage". There was the site of an ancient well and later pump. The modern part was just an "extra". We walked back across the fields to the Tiv, arriving at 8.00 pm to cook supper.
Friday 23rd May
It was a grey and windy day – not at all what we wanted. Adrian was the one who couldn't wake up this morning.
We left at 10.30 and drove to the ferry at Bantham. We found that it didn't start running until the weekend. On the way we had met a large library van which Adrian skilfully managed to manoeuvre past on a very narrow stretch.
We now drove down to Hope Cove, which entailed quite a circular tour through Malborough. We tried to ascertain which of the two coves we came to in 1964 and 1971. We stopped at both, but the cold wind didn't entice us to stay long.
Adrian at Beesands and walking to Hallsands
The campsite at Whitlocksworthy - with the cut grass!
We drove back through Malborough again to Salcombe – a town in a lovely situation, but exceedingly steep and narrow. We dreaded what it must be like in summer. Parking and even driving through, were pretty impossible. We managed to park in a road above the town and walk down. We hadn't been able to find anywhere to buy rolls today and I fancied fish and chips for lunch. After a walk around, we found the "Captain Morgan's", right by the waterfront. We had first-class place (A) and cod (R) and chips. There was an ambiguous notice saying "no cigar/pipe smoking. Cigarette smokers please respect other people's right to eat in a clean atmosphere" or words to that effect. The couple on the table next to us started smoking and a woman customer asked them to stop. They did so but when the woman and her daughters left they started again. This time I asked them to stop, which they did, but left soon afterwards (grumbling)!
We made our way back to the Tiv and on driving out of Salcombe I spied a "swimming pool" sign. We diverted to follow it and found it to be an open air small pool and also closed! We headed for Kingsbridge, taking a minor road and after a couple of tours of the town located the car park and sports centre. I went in to enquire and found that the pool was still being built! We had a short walk up the main street of Kingsbridge then left and headed for Bigbury, taking the tidal road.
We made for Bigbury-on-Sea, where we had to pay £1 to Park, so we walked over to the island (remembering a previous visit – 1985) and walked to the top of the hill. Bluebells were still out and we enjoyed the views back to this almost entirely unspoiled coastline, seeing Hope Cove and Thurlestone.
Rosie at Hope Cove
We left and drove the short distance through Bigbury itself to St Anne's Chapel, where with difficulty we located the certificated site (no signs). We were directed to a patch near two unused static vans and one old caravan (with a horse tethered to it, but he was soon taken away. The caravan wasn't that old).
We had walked downhill a long way and now we had to climb up, but it was lovely in the evening sunshine with beautiful views down to the river.
The 'low tide road' at Aveton Gifford
We must return (visited in 2018 after Sara & Chris' wedding). We arrived back about 7.00 pm. Adrian decided we needed more water so made an excursion into the farmyard where we were surrounded by cows being milked and a large sow. Close by in a shed were nine little piglets! We couldn't get more rural. Before and during supper we watched a buzzard hovering overhead.
View down to River Avon
It was extremely windy at our hilltop position overlooking Devon countryside with cows and sheep surrounding us and the tall unripe fields of corn shimmering like velvet. The sky had now cleared to a clear blue and a beautiful evening followed. We immediately set off on the lovely walk down to the River Avon and the tidal road we had driven along. Just as we arrived there the tide began encroaching on the road. We waited 10 minutes or so by which time the road was quite covered.
Old caravan, with a lady coming to untether the horse
Saturday 24th May
The wind blew all night and we felt no inclination to get up in the morning. We lay in bed reading until 10.00 am. I was reading still Rebecca Stephens book of climbing Everest – I felt that I was up there in a tent, being buffeted by the wind!
We had breakfast, looking out over the Devon hills. The gas decided to run out so we played games making it last for the eggs, coffee and toast!
We cleared up (I had an extra "going home" clean) and left stopping at the "Happy Shopper" to purchase a newspaper, and baguettes for lunch, then drove the short distance into Kingston from where we planned a walk. We managed to park the Tiv in a side road and set off down a steeply sided green track towards the sea. We wore our fleeces, but by now the sun had been shining for some time. Out of the wind we realised that it was warm. The path went through high stinging nettles before we approached a delightful cove called Westcombe Beach.
We explored the beach for some time. It was sandy, with tall slatey rocks with vertical strata. We were annoyed at our decision not to bring our lunch with us – we had to suffice with a chocolate biscuit!
It was hard to leave this little bit of heaven, so unexpectedly warm and sheltered. Eventually we did and had to retrace our steps, but instead of returning all the way up the valley, took a different path over the hill to Kingston. Fortunately this led to a track then a road between high banks and so was not windy. By now we were in T-shirts.
We reached the van just after 2 o'clock and drove a short way down the road where we had lunch sitting on the grass verge with high banks either side. It was so lovely and warm here that we lazed and read the newspaper, reluctant to move off.
Eventually we did and drove back through exceptionally tall campion covered banks to St Anne's Chapel then to Modbury and so to the A38 to Exeter. At Ashburton we turned off looking for a cycle shop to enquire about cycle racks. We toured the village and finally asked a young couple who directed us – back where we had come from, near the A38 turn off. They didn't have a rack in stock anyway!
We had an uneventful journey, noticing the greater number of vehicles going westwards, particularly after joining the M5. Devon looked lovely in it's full greenness. We needed somewhere to buy gas and eventually found somewhere in Bridgwater, shortly before arriving at Renee and Lena's in Puriton at 6.30 pm.
We enjoyed tea in the garden, then a tour of the garden before coming in for a chat until late.
We travelled home after breakfast next day, stopping at Asda at Bristol, where Adrian bought a mountain bike!
Adrian on Westcombe Beach
A typical high-banked Devon road
Monday 19th February 2001
This is a continuation of our "Road Around Britain" – in May 1997 we reached the Westcome beach near Kingston, just to the east of the River Erme estuary.
We left Hermitage on Friday, having lunch with Renee and Lena in Puriton, then staying the night with Paul and Nicky at Parbrook, before spending the weekend in Otterton looking after Felix, while Emma and Stuart had their first "short break" since Felix's arrival last July. Felix was delightful and great fun.
We left Otteron in sunshine, after a week of dry weather with lots of blue sky and sunshine. The winter up to then had been particularly wet and grey. We stocked up at Tesco, then sat on a seat by the sea at Exmouth. It was so lovely in the sunshine, that we found it hard to tear ourselves away!
We left here late morning, enjoying the fresh springness as we joined the A38 and headed south westwards, turning off shortly before Ivybridge to take the road towards Mothecombe, on the western side of the River Erme.
We very soon discovered, or rediscovered, the problems of the narrow Devon roads and in fact got wedged in a narrow road with high steep banks and had to reverse and turn round. Later we found that we had seriously scratched the side of the Tiv!
We found a different route to Mothecombe and parked in a field and ate our lunch sitting in the Tiv overlooking the estuary of the River Erme. The bonus at this time of year is that parking appears to be free. We walked down to the beach below. Being half term, there were quite a few happy children enjoying themselves with their parents.
Adrian with Felix (now aged 19) at Budleigh Salterton
We now set off on a circular walk, westwards along the cliffs initially. We wondered why we missed the path sign to take us inland to Mothecombe and had to do some scaling of barbed wire fences etc. When we finally "found ourselves" and came out to the road, there was a sign saying that it was private land and that the footpath had been closed in 1981!
Ignorance is bliss! We got back to the Tiv at 3.45, but when we went to leave, we found that the Tiv got stuck in the mud! Thank goodness for the yellow "grip strips"!
We continued our westward route, coming to the pretty Devon villages of Noss Mayo and across a branch of the River Yelm, Newton Ferriers, looking lovely in their fjord like situation. Again roads were narrow, and there was nowhere to stop. We were delighted to see a mimosa bush in full flower.
We made our way to the A379, just west of Yealmpton – the first road we took became very narrow, so we didn't risk it this time and reversed. We were approaching the outskirts of Plymouth and decided to head for a CL at Furze Park Farm a short way inland on the road to Plympton. We found this fairly easily and once settled in had a cup of tea and buttered crumpet, as the sun went down.
I cooked fish for supper and we retired earlier than of late for a much warmer night.
Adrian by the River Erme at Mothecombe
Tuesday 20th February
The foggy start to the day didn't entice us up. After breakfast Adrian filled the water tank from the tap in front of the blackthorn bush – in fact the hose wasn't quite long enough and we daren't pull off into the mud, so had to resort to the "Harry Method" – using the water carrier and funnel. Hence it was almost 10.30 when we left, but the sun was now coming out to give a beautiful day. We drove down past the large greenhouses and crossed the A379 and headed down to Wembury, near the Yelm estuary on the Western side.
We parked in the National Trust car park, in front of Wembury church, standing in its isolated position near the coast. This is a splendid bit of coast. We looked out to an island rock – Great Mew Stone. It reminded us of Foradada rock in Sardinia. Out to sea, in front of the rock, was a strange buoy, looking like a man in a cycle cape riding a scooter – it had us bothered for a bit!
We set off for a walk, above the cliffs and towards the River Yealm. The weather was beautiful – at times it was too hot in a thin jumper and skirt. The gorse was in flower (of course) and there are also daffodils and primroses flowering. We even saw some really dark Devon violets – I had to pick one or two. We saw where the ferry would go, at the mouth of the Yelm, in summer – saving the coastal path walkers a long inland route around the estuary. We walked on a bit further to view the Yealm, which turns on itself at this point and we could see the arm we had crossed yesterday, with Newton Ferriers and Noss Mayo nestling far below.
We made this a round walk, returning via the churchyard and arriving back at lunchtime. As it was still pleasantly warm, I made up some sandwiches with a delicious wholemeal loaf and we took these down to eat on the pretty little beach. There were lots of families about, the children happily damming up the streams and having fun with buckets and throwing rocks into the water. We didn't leave until 1.40 – having travelled just a few miles south today!
We travelled on round this easterly promontory adjacent to Plymouth we drove down to Bovisand Bay and viewed the nice little sandy beach below. The view was spoiled by dull brown chalets on the opposite head land and static caravans in the long Valley below the beach. We left here just after 2 o'clock and had done 9½ miles today!
Continuing round towards Plymouth, we had wonderful views across Plymouth Sound. We stopped at Jennycliff Bay and enjoyed an ice cream, sitting on a seat beside the sea and looking to Drakes Island, with Plymouth beyond and the fine headland of Mount Edgecombe to the left. I had clotted cream on my ice cream, and Adrian had chocolate flake.
We continued round into Plymouth and made our way down to The Hoe, stopping briefly by the sea. Behind us were daffodils and polyanthus. A bit further on we found the place where we stopped in 1971 and took some cine film, when Paul was a small baby.
The South Devon coast at Wembury
Looking to Newton Ferrers & Noss Mayo
We headed now for the Torpoint Ferry, arriving at about 3.10 to see several queues of cars, but we didn't wait long and by 3.30 we were across the Hamoaze and driving through Torpoint. We were curtailed rather by width restrictions as we drove through this attractive peninsular. At one point we drove through fields of daffodils, grown for cultivation. We couldn't get down to St John, but had to drive through Anthony (Anthony house, a National Trust property nearby would appear to be closed).
At Millbrook we drove around the lovely peaceful Millbrook Lake, part of the estuary and contrasting greatly with the harbour of Plymouth across the water. We drove right down to Cremyll, where there is a passenger ferry back to Plymouth and adjacent to the large Mount Edgecombe Park, which seemed to be open. We didn't stop, but made our way past the twin towns of Kingsand and Cawsand and (making us think of Hallsands and Beesands near Slapton in Devon). We couldn't stop here either, but we were disconcerted to see that Cornwall appeared to still be charging for car parking. We continued to Rame Head and walked out briefly past the old coastguard station and towards a little Mariners Chapel high on the protruding hill. We drove back up the western side of this peninsular for a short distance and spied a parking area beside the road and overlooking Whitsand Bay and the wonderful coast to the west. It would appear to make a good place for the night. Later we sat as the light faded from the sky and lights came on in the distance. We think we were looking to Looe.
We had enjoyed what we saw of Plymouth – it's situation reminded us of Auckland, New Zealand or Sydney, Australia or Cork in Ireland – all places with water interspersed with land all around.
Rosie (with cine camera), Emma & Paul on the steps at Plymouth Hoe in 1971
Wednesday 21st February
It was a fine morning and became a really beautiful day with clear blue skies and warm sunshine. We enjoyed looking out over the sea to have our breakfast and left earlier today at 8.50. We drove initially high above Whitsand Bay with small dwellings clutching to the steep hillside and with the beautiful sandy beach below. It was a long way down (and back up) so we continued via Craft Hole to interestingly named Portwrinkle.
Here we walked down to a beach of varying coloured grit by a little harbour – apparently a pilchard fishing place of the past. The harbour had no water in it at low tide. We walked along over the beach of sand and horizontal rocks (reminding us of Robin Hoods Bay) to another sandy cove beneath, where we'd parked the Tiv. There were a variety of rocks here – I took a photo with one in the foreground, looking like a greeny-pink shaggy dog. At this early hour there were only one or two people about.
We continued driving along through Downderry – a village beside the sea, but with no visible access for parking for the beach, we continued to Seaton (another one) which had a lovely sandy beach and an area of green behind. Our "coastline book" (which is pretty old) said there was a holiday camp here – it must have been demolished and the area is very pleasant. Flowers abounded – daffodils, jonquils, bergenia. We walked on the beach – to a fast flowing stream which came out to the sea. There were nice rocks on the beach here too. We walked across to the post office, but it appeared to be "out of action". Being about 10.30 now, we decided to have coffee here, sitting on a seat in front of the Tiv, overlooking the beach, where by now many families and dogs were having fun.
At about 11 o'clock we set off again, driving inland to Hessenford and then down towards Looe, but diverting to drive to the pretty little beach called Millendreath. This again was sandy, and it made me think of Nolton Haven (Pembrokeshire). Again we walked on the beach which was wet in places, across to the sea and back. As we arrived, a chap had started talking to Adrian about "casting". He did casting, but not fishing he said.
We now made our way to East Looe and were able to park beside the road. We thought that Looe was really delightful. It was full of little shops in its tiny lanes. We walked through to the mouth of the river and were surprised to find a pretty little sandy beach here too. The sun was warm – one chap was just in shorts and one or two people were in the water.
As we wandered back we bought one or two things, including large hot Cornish pasties which we ate for our lunch, sitting on the wall of the Looe River.
This time we enjoyed wandering around the delightfully attractive fishing village. I finished up my film. Australians must love it here. We think it's pretty good too!
We now headed for Polruan, on the opposite bank of the River Fowey to Fowey itself. One stretch of the road was very narrow with high banks and went steeply downhill. Luckily we met no other vehicles – just a couple of walkers and it was difficult enough to pass them. We parked just before Polruan and walked steeply down to the delightful village (another one!) with wonderful views of the Fowey estuary. We walked to the ancient "blockhouse", which in the past with its "twin" across the water, guarded the entrance to the Fowey River. We walked back up via the "battery", where we sat for a while in the beautiful sunshine watching an old sailing boat, with the spectacular scenery stretching to Gribbin Head behind it.
It was 4.20 when we reached the Tiv. We drove on round to Bodinnick to get the ferry across to Fowey. We had made this trip before – once, with Emma aged nearly 2 years, but in the opposite direction. We were pleased that the only charged us £1.65 (car rate). This really must be one of the most attractive ferry crossings in the world. Of course the blue sky and sunshine today have made everything look extra good (and this is February!).
We now made our way to a CL at Trevorney, a couple of miles south-west of Lostwithiel. The owner was out when we arrived, but another "camper" showed us where everything was. He was a retired farmer and they had sold up were enjoying travelling by car/caravan. Adrian set about "chores" – "emptying", and seeing to the house battery, which has been having problems. The owner, a pleasant dark haired teacher, was quite chatty when she returned.
We had supper of pork, with the sweetly scented jonquils on the table, which we had bought in Looe. The problem with the battery was still evident – we sat beside each other, so as to use only one light to read!
The 'shaggy dog' rock at Portwrinkle
We drove across the bridge to West Looe and took the road to Hannafore, but very soon came to a standstill as a crane was delivering a large container to the roadworks site a bit further on, and we had to wait until the operation was over. After that it was a difficult job as the crane vehicle and a lorry following it negotiated us and other vehicles on the narrow road.
When we did get through to the shore at Hannafore (it was a no through road, so we had to come back anyway), we parked above the sea and had a lovely walk along the front in the beautiful sunshine, looking across to Looe Island.
Now it was round to Polperro – still in the warm sunshine. We had to pay 50p to park here, but didn't want to repeat our nightmare of 1987, when we found ourselves, in the car, in the narrow roads, with "no entry" one way and "road unsuitable for cars" the other.
View when eating Cornish pasties for lunch
Where we got stuck in 1987
Lovely views from Polruan
Bodinnick Ferry Now (not our photo)
Bodinnick Ferry 1971
Rosie & Emma by the ferry 1971
Thursday 22nd February
The day started misty, but cleared to give a cloudy day with a little drizzle around lunchtime and the glimpse of sun in the late afternoon.
As we planned to visit Lanhydrock this morning, we weren't in a rush to get off, as it said in the National Trust book that the gardens opened at 10 o'clock. I did a bit of cleaning and Adrian filled the water tank and chatted to the lady. We still arrived at Lanhydrock about 9.45 and one of the first vehicle in the car park.
The grounds here are enormous and the grey house is pretty big too. This wasn't open and neither was the church behind it, but we spent about two hours wandering around the vast gardens. There were several camellias in bloom and one or two rhododendrons, but everywhere was in bud, about to burst – it would look wonderful in a week or two. There were also great views – even better on a really clear day.
The road went downhill for a long way until it passed under a very high railway viaduct. We continued until the road started ascending steeply, then we decided to return, dreading the long uphill slog, but in fact it wasn't as bad as we'd expected – I even stopped to pick a few hazel catkins to go with the little daff's.
While Adrian fixed the bikes back on, I got lunch ready and we ate this and then headed back towards Fowey. We very soon passed the Eden Project, which was closed, as we knew it would be. We came down to the east of St Austell and looked in at a CL, then made our way via Parr Sands to Fowey.
We managed to park in a side street and then made our way down to the passenger ferry back to Polruan.
There was a small Museum with much information about the family – of 10 children, only two married and there appeared to be only one descendant. We spent some time in the well equipped shop, particularly looking at the books. We bought a leaflet on local walks which we hope to do.
There were quite a few cars in the car park when we returned. We then headed for the Luxulian Valley, which the campsite lady had suggested we visit. The problem was there was a 6ft width restriction. Not to be outdone, we managed to park the Tiv beside the road and set off on our trusty steeds. The road did in fact get pretty narrow, but was very pretty, beside a fast flowing stream strewn with large rocks – there were also large rocks in some of the nearby fields.
Lanhydrock a bit later in the year, 2003
Adrian cycling down the Luxulian Valley
From here there was a walk, the Pont Pill walk, taking you back to the vehicle ferry at Bodinnick. We had one setback, when we located the quay marked "Polruan ferry", and saw the ferry approach the Town Quay, some distance away!
We made our way there and were able to catch the next ferry. We then set off on this delightful and peaceful walk, high up in the hills around the inlet of Pont Pill, with views down to Fowey and Polruan as we progressed. The crossing point was at Pont, a little spot lost in time with just a couple of houses and the remains of a limekiln. Apparently there had been an isolation hospital here for sailors in the past. Leo Walmsley (1892 – 1966) the prolific writer lived at Pont for the latter part of his life. We came across him in Robin Hoods Bay as he lived there from 2 years old and many of his books were based around there.
As we headed up the path, there was a patch of really dark violets.
We made our way back along to Bodinnick, catching the vehicle ferry back to Fowey and enjoying walking through the narrow streets back to the Tiv.
We decided to stay here for the night and after having supper of bacon and mushroom omelette followed by scones and cream, we walked back down into a silent Fowey. We wandered around the almost deserted streets, then called in at the pub on the quay for a beer before coming back up the steep streets and steps to the Tiv.
Fowey's "man" is Sir Arthur Quiller Couch (1863 – 1944). He was a Cornish writer who published using the pseudonym Q. Although a prolific novelist, he is remembered mainly for the monumental publication The Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900 (later extended to 1918) and for his literary criticism.
Polruan from Fowey
A pretty walk at Pont
Friday 23rd February
We awoke to a clear blue sky, with the sun shining, in our lovely situation above the Fowey River. By the time we left, clouds were appearing. We made a long circular route back down to Caffa Mill, where the ferry to Bodinnick leaves from, for Adrian to sort out the battery. He had spied one in a shop there yesterday. With much measuring and borrowing of the tool bits from another van, he removed our battery (this meant taking Adrian's seat out) and replaced it with the new battery. Hopefully this will sort out our problems. Meanwhile I walked back into Fowey (much further than I'd remembered) and bought some fish – Red Gurnard for tonight. We were in a "pay and display" car park and Adrian had just about finished when the parking man was approaching – we made a dash for it!
We drove off to Menabilly and parked here. This is "Daphne du Maurier" country. She lived for a while at Menabilly, which was the inspiration for "Mandalay" in Rebecca. The house is well hidden, but we walked down past Menabilly Barton Farm towards the coast at Polridmouth (pronounced Pridmouth). This was a long steep path – about three quarters of a mile – sometimes between steep banks. Polridmouth is a really pretty cove with a sandy beach. As it is a long walk from anywhere, it supposedly never gets crowded, there were a few people about though.
We headed off around the cliff path – lots of "ups" and "downs". We got hot on the ups then cool on the downs. The wind was quite strong, and got colder as the day went on. At Combe there was a path inland, but we continued across Alldays Fields to St. Catherine's Point, and the ruins of St. Catherine's Castle, dating from the 16th century. We had good views of Fowey & Polruan – we have seen this area from all directions now.
We walked up through Covington Woods then back passing Combe Farm and back down to Polridmouth. I was feeling uneasy while walking past farmland, with the latest outbreak of "Foot and Mouth disease" causing much concern to everyone.
Although now past lunchtime, we continued to Gribbin Head to the tall red and white striped "Day Mark" on the top. This was built in 1822 to distinguish Gribbin Head from St Anthony head near Falmouth, with its deep harbour of Carrick Roads
. It was pretty blowy up here. Three young girls and their grandmother were walking the same route – we envied their energy!
Back at the Polridmouth Beach, we stopped for a few minutes to remember Janet O'Gorman (our lovely neighbour), whose Remembrance Service was today. This beautiful spot seemed a fitting place to be and we felt that Janet would have approved of us being there.
We made the long trek back up the track and then ate a late lunch in the Tiv. It was 3 o'clock when we left. We drove down the long steep road to Polkerris, but there was nowhere to park at the bottom and we didn't fancy another steep walk. It came on to hail! briefly.
We drove round to Par Sands after driving past the unattractive, as ever, static site, we walked across the wide sandy but litter strewn beach to the sea and back. Just inland was a large pond with a variety of waterbirds, including an aggressive shelduck There were also a lot of black crows/ravens – making us think of The Birds", which was originally based here in du Maurier's book.
We took the road past Carlyon Bay, but didn't actually get down to it, then came to Charlestown, a historic working port with a Shipwreck Museum. However, as parking here was £1 and it was raining at this point, we didn't stop. We will have to have our previous memories and our sight of a few ancient ships in the harbour.
We next came down to Porthpean, which we both felt we had visited before. The road went steeply to the sandy beach, but there was no parking nearby and again we didn't stop.
Saturday 24th February
We were dismayed to hear rain in the night, and both woke at 6.00 am feeling cold. We went back to sleep until 8.20 and found that there had been a hard frost! We were anxious about getting "stuck in the mud", so after filling the water tank by the "Harry method", we reversed the Tiv to the entrance gate. Breakfast was not very relaxed, as we hoped the "farmer" wouldn't return – he had been to see his animals while we were still asleep – and there was no room for him to turn in, and the entrance was on a nasty bend. We were in luck and were grateful for our free night stop.
We took a different route back to Heligan – this time up a long, narrow, steep, muddy road with low overhanging trees. Luckily we made it without meeting any other vehicles. We got to Heligan for the opening time and spent a joyous day there. The day was cold but the sun shone most of the time.
It was all pure joy – about as perfect as a garden can be. We spent the morning exploring the "Northern Gardens". Our first joy was the "Northern Summerhouse", with views through to the spectacular coast towards Fowey. We then found ourselves in the bit called "New Zealand" and just looked at all the ferns.
Tom, Simon & Rosie in 1987
Everything in the "Melon Yard" looked just right. I half expected to see Peter Rabbit pop out, especially in the potting shed. We were impressed by all "information boards" throughout the garden – they were written with humour and were very personal, unlike many notices in National Trust properties.
The wonderful 'Lost Gardens of Heligan'
After looking around the walled Flower garden and the Italian garden, I was ready for some coffee. The Stewards House restaurant was not open, so we returned to the entrance, via the "Ravine", – a pathway through a "being restored" rockery.
We decided to have coffee in the Tiv – it was now late morning. We made up sandwiches to take with us as we set off for the further away areas – the "Jungle" with its ponds surrounded by the vegetation and the "Lost Valley". On the way we passed two interesting natural sculptures – one a large head, the other a reclining woman, both of which fitted in with the surroundings. The area around the ponds made us think of Sheffield Park. We sat in the warm sunshine and enjoyed our sandwiches, watched by some mallard ducks who waddled out of the water in anticipation of crumbs.
We walked back up to the entrance, enjoying the views, the alder trees with their catkins and the hens in their enclosure. We spent some time in the shop with its huge selection of books. Our visit will remain a highlight for ever – a "favourite place" for all time.
Back at the Tiv, we set off for nearby Mevagissey. We parked in the car park and walked down to the delightful harbour with its many fishing boats. We had apparently visited before, but I had no real memories of it. We thought how we would have raved about such a place if we were abroad, it really is attractive.
'Peter rabbit's shed'
'The Jungle' and ponds
We didn't think we could rely on the ongoing road being navigable for us, so annoyingly had to retrace our steps back past Helligan to Gorran Haven. We knew the name well, but neither could remember having been there. It really is a charming sandy "haven" and looked perfect in the late afternoon emptiness.
On the way back we stopped by a garage where Adrian was able to get some gas.
We came back down to the sea at Porthluney Cove – a sandy cove with headland either side and looking pretty in the late afternoon sun. We sat briefly in the car park, with wagtails strutting about. Behind was Caerhays Castle, reminding us of Duwisib Castle in Namibia. We drove up a steep hill between high banks and spied a parking area beside "permissive fields". We pulled in here then set off walking through this field, then along the coastal path to another pretty spot – Portholland "have we been here too?" (Yes - 1987 & 1963(Adrian)) – we thought we recognised the "unsuitable for motors" sign.
The superb coastline looked wonderful as the sun went down and we returned to the Tiv.
Amazing star filled sky when we looked out later – silent except for an owl.
Rosie at Portholland 2001 & 1987
Sunday 25th February
We didn't have a good night – Adrian's back was hurting and I was cold. Also we heard rain, but again woke to a clear blue sky. It had clouded over by the time we left at 9.30, then continued like this during the day – some sun and some wintry showers and a very cold feel to the air.
We made our way to Portloe, where we had stayed for a week in February 1987. We found nowhere to stop in the tiny little fishing village and continued up the hill towards Veryan. Here we were able to park and walk down over the cliffs to Portloe, although Adrian's back made this difficult for him. We relived a few memories down by the harbour, then made a long ascent up the hill to the Tiv.
We continued now to Veryan, spying the twin roundhouses either side of the road and cursing again that I had not brought our 1987 holiday diary with us.
We came down to the western end of Pendower Beach – another beautiful sandy beach which we would have visited before. We viewed it from the Tiv, as another wintry shower began.
We drove on to Pentewan, the last part of the road being very steep. The otherwise beautiful spot was spoiled by the sight of more static vans right above the beach.
Nearby we got some more diesel, then found ourselves by "The Lost Gardens of Heligan", which we plan to visit tomorrow.
There was a nice little "camper and caravan" parking area which would have made an excellent "overnighter", but on enquiring if this was possible we were told it was a "no go".
We headed for a CL a couple of miles away at Polmassick, again down a steep hill. We couldn't find it and ascended another hill. When we returned to what looked like the place, a chap had arrived on a little tractor to feed various livestock. It was the right place, but closed as it was too wet to get into the field (no signs anywhere!) Adrian negotiated with him and asked if we could just stop on a bit of drive, which after a bit he agreed to!
As if we hadn't done enough walking, we set off on a little walk around this tiny hamlet. There were a mixture of aged houses, some being necessarily restored and one or two new ones. We came back and enjoyed our tasty Red Gurnard fish for supper.
Yes we had - Porthpean 1987
By the time we reached Portscatho and another lovely beach – Porthcurnick, it was time for the next shower! We had an early lunch of toast and boiled egg, then I set off to walk across the cliff path to the village of Portscatho and Adrian followed in the Tiv, unfortunately forgetting about the vase of little daff's, which fell to the floor.
We now took the long and pretty road down to St Anthony's head, where we got out for a quick blow and to view Falmouth, Carrick Roads, and St Mawes. We drove back and called in at St Anthony, a muddy inlet which we both remembered with Place House occupying it's situation by the shore. Camellias in bloom lined the road here.
We now had to backtrack to Trewithian and take the road to St Mawes. Again this is in a lovely situation, but again I have little memory of visiting it. We walked around and were delighted to find a Spar shop open, which not only took a Visa card, but gave cashback, so we were able to get some more money – "holes in the wall" seem non-existent here!
We drove back to St Just in Roseland and parked by the little church. We had remembered being charmed by the situation of this little church, beside an offshoot of the Fal River, on our previous visit. We walked around the churchyard, with two large camellias and a huge magnolia about burst forth and into the serene little church with its delightful floral displays – a delightful place for reflection.
Afterwards we drove towards the King Harry Ferry, finding a layby to stop in on the way.
I telephoned Terry Trezise and we plan to visit him tomorrow and I had an email message from Kath(Adby) wishing me a happy birthday. I had already had one from Val Kennedy. I cooked an excellent "toad in the hole" for supper.
Monday 26th February
It wasn't at all what we ordered for my birthday – we woke to heavy rain and Adrian's back was really bad.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed opening my cards and presents including – some interesting books to read, cassettes to listen to, a pretty vase, some nice chocolates and more besides. I cooked mushrooms on toast for breakfast – Adrian was upset as he thought that he should be doing it.
We turned on the radio and heard that Don Bradman had died aged 92. You could truly say of him "He had a good innings"! We had really enjoyed visiting the little museum to him when we were in Australia.
We didn't leave our little layby until 10.50 and headed for the King Harry Ferry (£2.50 to cross). Across from here is Trellisick Gardens. We pulled in – the clouds had broken up and we had quite a lot of unexpected sunshine today.
The plan was that Adrian would stay in the Tiv while I looked around. However, the "Ladies at the desk" were very helpful and suggested that Adrian use a buggy! This he did and we were able to see quite a lot of the gardens, in their superb position overlooking the Fal Estuary. There weren't as many camellias out as we had hoped, but the real glory was the huge flowered pink Magnolia.
Portloe on our RAB February 2001 (top) and
when we stayed for a week February 1987 (bottom)
Pendower Beach (1987)
St Just in Roseland church with Simon & Tom (1987)
Afterwards we had lunch in the restaurant – Adrian had mackerel with horseradish and apple sauce, which he enjoyed and I had an excellent stuffed aubergine. It was 2 o'clock when we left. (we returned again in May 2003)
We drove down to Feock, in a lovely situation at the head of Carrick Roads and right down to Restronguet Point, but weren't able to stop. There were some huge mimosas in flower.
On our way back to the A39, the wing mirror on my side got too close to a road sign, so that was the end of the mirror!
We headed for Mylor. The road back down to Restronguet Passage from this side looked too steep, so we continued to Mylor itself where they are building a yacht harbour.
We briefly visited Flushing, which didn't look as we had remembered it. On our way back we had a "Happy Birthday" text message from Simon, who had tried to ring earlier – annoyingly the phone had rung at one point, but we then went out of contact.
We soon found ourselves in Falmouth and without really trying found ourselves at Terry and Alison's (college friends). We went in and chatted over a cup of tea, with plans to go out for a meal tonight.
Time soon went and it was time for our 7.15 taxi pickup. We ate at a pleasant little bistro down by the old harbour. It was a lovely way to spend my birthday evening. The food was good and there was much chat and jollity. A couple who Terry and Alison knew sat at the next table – it was their wedding anniversary. Adrian had soup then gammon, and I had corn on the cob followed by seafood tagliatelle and pinched some of the excellent chips. We both had delicious deserts too.
The magnolia against the blue sky
Adrian ordered a bottle of wine, but the others were drinking beer, so I had it almost to myself. We ended the evening chatting over a "nightcap" in Terry's lounge, then went to bed upstairs.
Birthday meal with Alison & Terry
This trip continues in the next section is Falmouth to Bude