- Start: Quayside car park, Calstock, grid ref SX436685
- End: Quayside car park, Calstock, grid ref SX436685
- Country: England
- County: Cornwall
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Cotehele Barn Restaurant (01579 352711); Edgcumbe Arms, Cotehele Quay (tea rooms/ restaurant 01579 352717); Tamar Inn, Calstock (01822 832487); Boot Inn, Calstock (01822 834866)
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 108 or Landranger 201
- Difficulty: Medium
This beautiful riverside route from Calstock's impressive viaduct includes medieval Cotehele with its gardens, watermill and quay, writes Robert Hesketh
This beautiful riverside route from Calstocks impressive viaduct includes medieval Cotehele with its gardens, watermill and quay, writes Robert Hesketh
Distance: 7.3km (4 miles) Time: 2 hours Exertion: Moderate
Points of interest:
Superb views of the Tamar
Cotehele, one of Britains least altered medieval houses, with its lovely landscaped valley gardens
Cotehele Quay and its Discovery Centre
The watermill and craft workshops at Cotehele
BOOTS ON? LET'S GO!
1 From Calstocks quayside car park walk towards the handsome railway viaduct. Designed by Richard Church, it was completed in 1907 with 12,000 concrete blocks. Its 12 arches of 18m (60ft) span carry the Tamar Valley Line 39m (118ft) above the water.
Turn inland behind the Tamar Inn and turn left into Commercial Road. After only 50m, turn left into a riverside lane signed Cotehele. This leads under the viaduct and past boatyards to Danescombe Quay, where it turns inland beside a creek and becomes a track. Ignore the footpath right and continue to cottages. Turn left onto the footpath for Cotehele House. This climbs to a junction. Continue ahead, climbing more gently with views of the gardens to your
left. Cross in front of Cotehele House and continue to a courtyard. Turn right to visit the house and gardens or continue from point 2. (Access to Cotehele House, gardens and mill is by National Trust membership or entry ticket.)
Noted for its furniture and tapestries, Cotehele is one of Britains least altered medieval country houses. The weaponry and armour are especially interesting built of hard granite and slate with small high windows and strong doors, Cotehele was easily defensible. In the landscaped valley gardens, crisscrossed with miles of footpaths, is a dovecote and an 18th-century prospect tower.
2 Leave the courtyard by the gateway on the far side and turn left along the drive. After 100m you may shortcut direct to Cotehele Quay (point 4) by turning left and immediately right and downhill. This reduces the walk 1.8km (1 mile). Otherwise, continue ahead along the tarmac track for Cotehele Mill to a lane. Cross and go through a wooden gate. Follow the broad path downhill and ignore side turnings. Continue on the same path when it bends very sharp left. Turn second right for The Mill. A working watermill, its machinery can be seen in action. There are also craftsmens workshops and re-creations of a saddlers, a wheelwrights and a blacksmiths shop.
3 Retrace your steps to the main path. Continue ahead, signed Cotehele Quay, to a lane. Follow this lane to the Quay.
Cotehele Quay has a medley of historic buildings, including limekilns. The Discovery Centre (free entry) tells the story of the Shamrock, the 19m (57ft) ketch-rigged Tamar vessel of 1899 moored at the Quay. The centre also has model boats, ships and tableaux explaining how the quay, its boatyard and limekilns looked in their heyday and how salmon were netted on the Tamar.
4 Walk ahead past the Edgcumbe Arms to the car park. Bear left on a path along the valley. Level at first, it rises past a little chapel, then past the foot of the gardens to a wonderful viewpoint. Sir Richard Edgcumbe of Cotehele, fearing for his life because of his opposition to Richard IIIs regime, hid in the woods hereabouts. He threw his cap into the Tamar, making his pursuers believe he had drowned. He escaped to Brittany and joined Henry Tudor, returning to England with him in 1485 when Tudor took the throne to become Henry VII.
Continue to the junction you passed earlier. Keep right and right again, retracing your steps to the creekside track. Turn right past the cottages. After 150m, turn very sharp left and uphill, signed Public Footpath. Climb past a house and 50m further on turn sharp right onto an unsigned path. This leads to a footbridge. Pass under the bridge, and then turn right and right again to cross it. You are now on the inclined plane which served the mining area above.
5 Follow the path over a second footbridge to an over-bridge. Turn left, then right to cross the bridge and follow a footpath downhill, ignoring side turnings. The footpath becomes a lane and continues under the viaduct and down to the quay.
Start: Quayside car park, Calstock, grid ref SX436685
Terrain: Footpaths and quiet lanes; three moderate ascents/descents
Maps: OS Explorer 108 or Landranger 201
Child/dog friendly: Suitable for older children and dogs on leads. Dogs not permitted in Cotehele Gardens
Refreshments: Cotehele Barn Restaurant (01579 352711); Edgcumbe Arms, Cotehele Quay (tea rooms/ restaurant 01579 352717); Tamar Inn, Calstock (01822 832487); Boot Inn, Calstock (01822 834866)
Public transport: Tamar Valley Line trains daily, www.nationalrail.co.uk, 08457 484950; buses on Callington/Tavistock and Callington/Gunnislake routes, 0871 200 2233, www.travelinesw.com
Cotehele (National Trust): Garden and estate open all year dawn till dusk; house 12 March 30 October, 11am-4.30pm, closed Fridays (01579 351346)
PHOTOS: ROBERT HESKETH