In part 1 of my Devon and Cornwall recap, we saw Dartmoor national park and the Eden Project. Today, we have Polperro, coastal views and several National Trust properties.
As a child, I decided I would live in Polperro when I grew up. I loved the colourful town with its narrow, twisting streets and smuggler history. I also loved a tree-lined walk high above the town and adjacent to the sea. My childhood plan was to buy a plot of land in the trees, build a cabin, and live happily ever after.
Things change, and I no longer feel a burning desire to live in Polperro. However, I was glad to visit it again after many years. It was as attractive as I remembered, if oddly quiet out of season.
We were fortunate to have glistening sunshine on the afternoon in question, and before long we had shed our coats and were wishing for sunglasses and fewer layers. The path was muddy in spots, incredibly steep in others, and we had stunning views from just about every section.
We also had gorgeous weather on the day we visited Saltram House, a National Trust property just outside of Plymouth. It is situated almost exactly opposite from where my grandparents lived when I was a child, but I had no memories of visiting it on previous trips. For those of you not in the UK, the National Trust is a UK conservation charity that cares for historic buildings and outdoor areas. If you join as an annual member, you get free entry to all properties for the next calendar year, which works out to be very good value if you visit even 3 or 4.
Saltram is a Georgian mansion set in impressive gardens, and in summer much of the house is open to the public. At this time of year some rooms were still shut off, but we enjoyed the ones we could see, and especially a book-lined floor to ceiling library.
We also ate lunch at Saltram, although I inexplicably took no photos of the occasion. As is often the case at National Trust properties, there were several vegetarian options and I enjoyed the lentil soup with fresh wholemeal bread. Mr Bite had a tuna, red onion and cheese ciabatta, and we both enjoyed our meals.
|Folly in Saltram gardens|
On the same day as visiting Saltram, we went to Buckland Abbey. The abbey started as a religious settlement in 1278, but after the dissolution of monasteries by King Henry VIII, it was refashioned into a private residence. It went on to become the home of Sir Francis Drake, the English sea captain who performed the second circumnavigation of the world.
Our own navigational skills are not as refined as Drake's, and so we were relying on phone GPS mapping to find the Abbey. It is worth noting that the location of Buckland Abbey on certain maps is not very close to its location in real life. We were thus a bit delayed in our arrival, and had to hurry around the house before it closed. It is a mix of museum and residence, and worth seeing, ideally with at least an hour (we had about 45 minutes). The grounds are also impressive and if we'd had more time, we might have enjoyed one of the walks around the gardens. Instead, we had a hasty peak and left it at that.
Our final National Trust property was Knightshayes, chosen purely because it was en route back to London on our drive home. Knightshayes is a gothic revival house, built in the late 1800s, and it is set in 4 acres of gardens. We visited knowing that certain areas were being restored, and so the rooms we saw did not correspond exactly to those usually open to the public. It was still worth visiting, and again, the gardens would be lovely to wander too. On the day we went, it was raining constantly and heavily, and so we elected to carry on our drive rather than get too sodden!
That concludes our few days in the region, but I couldn't finish this recap without showing a snapshot of typical Devon/Cornwall roads. Contrary to appearances, the lane above is a two-way road that constitutes a reasonably well used route (a B road). It adds a certain something when every corner could bring you face to face with an oncoming vehicle and the possibility of reversing to a wider section between hedges!
Polperro is a small village and fishing harbour on the south-east Cornwall coast. The South West Coast path runs through it.
Saltram House is located at Plympton, near Plymouth, Devon. Opening times vary across the year - see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/saltram/ .
Buckland Abbey is located at Yelverton, Devon. Opening times vary across the year - see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/buckland-abbey .
Knightshayes is located at Boltham, Tiverton, Devon. Opening times vary across the year - see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/knightshayes/ .