Flying home from London, May 2018

The last post for our UK 2018 trip!

May 12, 2018    It is a long flight, but luckily for us, there was a nonstop from London to Portland.

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Last views of the British Isles

Northern Canada – lots of pretty ice to  look down upon.

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The Rocky Mountains come into view,

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Our own volcanic mountains pop up under the wing, and finally, the Columbia River and Mt St Helens and we are home.

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Mt Adams, Mt Rainier and the Goat Rocks

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Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, the Columbia River

My favorite memories from the trip, as I am writing this 11 months later, are many.

The Jane Austen locations are at the top of the list – her portrait in London, her home and the big house in Chawton, the Quilt!, the Cobb in Lyme Regis, and then wandering around Bath, knowing that many of these sights were in her daily view while she lived there.

I enjoyed knowing my way around London for our brief stop there, revisiting some locations we had previously enjoyed, and also seeing the Natural Science Museum and Portrait Gallery.

It is always about the landscape! I love British literature, and have seen many of these locations or similar places on film, but there is nothing like boots on the ground for really feeling a place. Thus, the chalk cliffs, the Jurassic cliffs of Charmouth,  the downs, the hedgerow counterpanes and Dartmoor ponies on the moors, the blue water of Cornwall; the old castles and cottages juxtaposed with modern buildings, and then the Roman baths and Georgian Crescents in Bath – all fill in my minds eye where imagination leaves off, and I feel richer for the experience. I can see hobbits on the moors, Winnie the Pooh in the woods, mole and water rat on the river.

I would love to spend more time in Cornwall, and we have on our list another trip to Scotland. New Zealand, the Alps, and other destinations also call. This year we will remain stateside for reunions, weddings and graduations…exploration of new places are part of those plans as well. I feel very lucky to be able to travel with my husband on these fabulous adventures!

Fowey to Lynton via The Cheesewring at Minions (18-54)

Day 11, May 6, 2018

We packed up and left our lovely cottage at Fowey. Our next destination was another four day self catering apartment, this time in a Victorian cliffside mansion in Lynton, on the north coast of Devon. Our drive took us near Bodmin Moor. We found an interesting stop along the way near the village of Minions. There were three ancient stone circles called The Hurlers, a rock formation called the Cheesewring, and baby animals in the farm pastures. For a travel day we did fairly well. We stocked up on groceries in Okehampton, then continued north on the winding roads that led to our cliffside perch in Lynton.

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Minions and the Cheesewring

We parked in the carpark and looked at signs about the history of this locale and the three ancient stone circles called The Hurlers that have been partially reconstructed.

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We walked through the stone circles and across the pastures, noticing a nearby tin mine. This whole area was a tin and copper mining center in the late 1800’s.

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Landscape view of Stowe’s Hill and The Hurlers.

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Tin mine

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The Hurlers

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Looking toward Stowe’s Hill.

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Looking back toward Minions.

We continued on to Stowe’s Hill, where the landmark known as The Cheesewring – a ‘stack’ of weathered granite slabs is perched above a quarry.

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Stowe’s Hill in the distance.

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Getting closer – quarry on the right side.

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The Cheesewring

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The Cheesewring is fenced off from the quarry below.

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Rock climbers in the quarry.

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Beyond The Cheesewring, the top of Stowe’s Hill is also made of a stack of weathered granite slabs.

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Looking back at The Cheesewring from the top of Stowe’s Hill.

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Dan at the top of Stowe’s Hill; The Cheesewring beyond.

We walked back down the hill and around the standing stones and cow herd in the pasture, admiring the foal and the lambs.

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Lynton

After a stop in Okehampton for lunch and groceries,

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Driving view of Okehampton

we made our way to Lynton. Lady google directed us along narrow streets through the town and seemingly to the cliff edge, then through these iron gates

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Entrance to our lodgings.

to the former mansion, now guesthouse with tea service, called Villa Spaldi. Our self catering apartment, furnished in old, formal style, had everything we would need for our next few days of exploring, and a fabulous view across the bay.

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Villa Spaldi

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Eastward view over Lynmouth from our little balcony.

After settling in, we took an evening walk along the SW Coast Path to the west toward the Valley of Rocks. The sun was low, and we planned to come back this way for more exploring tomorrow.

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Treed slope along the path

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Looking back to the east.

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Valley of Rocks

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Walking toward the setting sun.

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Walking back east.

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The path looks down on our cliffside abode.

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Last view to the east of Lynmouth Bay.

Zennor and Lizard; Finding Cornwall (18-52)

Day 10, Saturday, May 5, 2018

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Part 1, Zennor

We drove from Fowey to the north coast of Cornwall again, to the village of Zennor, west of St Ives. We walked along the Southwest Coast Path, down one canyon, across the stream, and up the next bluff. The great views were limited by cloud cover, though we enjoyed seeing the flowers and a waterfall.

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Foggy views

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Crossing the stream

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Pendour Cove

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Foggy lunch spot

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Flowers on the path back to Zennor.

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Giant Gunnera manicata – a Brazilian plant brought to the UK in the 1860s.

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Red campion and scilla

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Rock stile

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Primroses

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St Senara’s Church, Zennor

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Our walk

We were disappointed about the cloud clover, as this is supposed to be a particularly spectacular coastline.

Part 2, Lizard

On a tip from other hikers we cut our Zennor hike short and drove to Lizard on the south coast and found Cornwall! Sunny blue skies, craggy cliffs, wildflowers, sparkling seas. Lizard is the southernmost point of the mainland of Great Britain, and is a popular tourist location, with cafes, small shops, and a lighthouse. We enjoyed the sun and the views as we walked along the cliffside paths.

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We walked cliffside paths to the west, then east of Lizard Point.

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Cornwall! First view of the flowering cliffs west of Lizard Point.

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Flowering hedgerows and cows just above the cliffs

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The old life boat station at Lizard Point

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Steep flowered cliffs

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Cliffs and ocean views

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Garden path through Pistil Meadow

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Shingled cove

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Cliffs to the west

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Looking toward Pentreath and Kynance

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Holsear Cove

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Lizard Lighthouse in the middle distance

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After walking along the cliffs to the west, we returned to Lizard Point and looked at the old life boat station in Polpeor Cove.

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Polpeor Cove with lifeboat station; Lizard Lighthouse in the distance

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We continued walking east toward the lighthouse above Poltream Cove

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Lizard Lighthouse

Looking back at Lizard Point.

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The trail turned north to take in views to the east across Housel Bay.

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Across the bay is a house where Marconi set up one of the first wireless telegraph (radio) stations in 1900, transmitting signals to the Isle of Wight, 180 miles away.

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Red campion

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I found a bench here and just sat for a while, admiring all the colors of the ocean water: purple – indigo – turquoise – teal – marine – navy – chartreuse.

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This is a place I hope to return to someday.

St Agnes to Perranporth, Cornwall, Poldark Country (18-50)

Day 9, Friday, May 4th, 2018

We drove from our lodging in Fowey to Perranporth on the north coast of Cornwall. Dan planned a one way hike on the Southwest Coast Path from St Agnes back to Perranporth. A low cloud ceiling remained for the entire day, but it wasn’t too cold – good hiking weather. We  passed broad moors, coastal cliffs, beaches and tin mines. Some of the scenes for the BBC Poldark series were filmed in this general area.

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Carpark at the beach in Perranporth.

We parked in Perranporth and took the local bus to St Agnes – a bit of an adventure in itself, because the bus was running almost an hour late. The driver very kindly made sure we got out at the right stop in St Agnes, so at 11 AM, we were finally our way for what would be a ten mile hike, with 1500 feet of total elevation gain, as we walked up and down the coastal cliffs.

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We walked through St Agnes,

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A street sign for Harry Potter fans

along some farm roads, then uphill to St Agnes Beacon.

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First view of the coast over the field

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Our track to the north

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St Agnes Beacon ahead, beyond the gorse

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Lunch stop at St Agnes Beacon

On a clear day the views must be incredible!

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Land of counterpane beyond.

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Location finder on the Beacon.

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We continued downhill toward St Agnes Head – a promontory on the coast.

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Looking west…

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Looking east…

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From St Agnes Head we turned east on the SW Coast Path toward Perranporth. The trail stayed above the high cliffs until we reached the descent to Trevaunance Cove.

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Gorse along the trail

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Hedgerows

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First glimpse of the beach ahead

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Old tin mine

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The turquoise blue water of Cornwall

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Flower-lined path

There were so many flowers along the path…

We looked down to Trevaunance Cove, noticing the standup paddlers in the water.

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Trevaunance and Trevellas Coves

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Stand up paddle boarders

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Tin mines on the cliffs above Trevaunance Cove

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Stairway down the cliffs

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Our path along the beach and rocks to Trevellas Cove

Fortunately, the tide was out. We walked across the beach, then picked our way over and around the rocky outcrops to Trevellas Cove, enjoying the tide pooling along the way.

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Flowers blooming on the cliffs

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Devonian metamorphic rocks

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Limpets

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Seaweed

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View back to the village at Trevaunance Cove

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Tidepools

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Seaweed and limpets

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The rocky gap on the beach at low tide

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Looking back again

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More tide-swept sea weed

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Pebbly sand and seaweed

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Ebb tide channel

We crossed over into Trevellas Cove and could see our path up the cliffs.

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Looking back to our beach crossing

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Another look back

Continuing east toward Perranporth, the next section of the SW Coast Path again stayed high on the cliffs with views down to beaches.

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Waterfall

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Beach caves and arches

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We passed old tin mines and tailing piles,

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Mine opening in distant cliff

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Covered mining site

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Closer view of the cliff mine

Ruins of WWII bunkers and an airfield are also along the trail.

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Plenty of flowers and spectacular geological outcrops.

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Sea thrift and folded Devonian metamorphic rocks

Eventually, we reached views of the beaches of Perranporth.

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View toward Perranporth from Cligga Head

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Last look back to the west

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Bird covered rocks

We were glad to wind our way down the cliffs to the car park in Perranporth after a long, beautiful hike.

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The Jaguar GPS led us back to Fowey by the narrowest and hedgerow-bound of winding back roads – we learned from this day to ignore the B roads with lots of numbers. The GPS route would recalculate to stay on A or low number B roads if we ignored turn directions when we didn’t like the look of the road. The new route might be longer in miles, but shorter in time and less scary in narrowness and visibility. Also, the signs that say “Weak Bridge Ahead” are a little disconcerting, though we were sure they meant heavy trucks, not passenger cars. You never know though. Some of the buildings and hedgerows certainly date back to the time of Poldark. Roads that are about two feet from the doors of farm houses cannot really be meant for through travelers. We needed a smarter GPS or more experienced operator. It would have helped if we had looked at the overview map of the route before embarking, but the GPS in the car did not seem to offer this option in a practical way. I personally prefer to preplan my routes with more diligence, but sometimes when traveling, and changing plans on the fly, on the whims of the weather, we wing it – with the consequences of the narrow hedgerow and the blind corners. After this day I used my Google Maps Iphone App and did not use the Jaguar GPS though she did have a charming British accent and manners, directing us, “Please, at the next roundabout, take the second exit toward St Agnes.”

We enjoyed making ourselves a Mexican dinner back at the cottage.

Fowey Estuary Walk, May 3, 2018 (18-47)

Day 8,  Fowey Estuary Loop

We were settled into a cottage for the next few days, and happy to take a day off from driving. We chose to walk a loop around Fowey Estuary by foot and ferry.

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We walked from our cottage down to the ferry crossing at Bodinnick.

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Waiting for the ferry to dock.

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Rocks and barnacles at the Bodinnick landing.

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Looking back to Fowey.

After our brief ride across the river, we walked up hill onto the bluffs above the estuary. Most of our trail was part of the Hall Walk, a National Trust property with historical markers, beautiful wildflower displays, and great views of the landscape.

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Hall Walk

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Looking toward the English Channel

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Fields on Bodinnick Heights

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Wildflower-lined path

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A place to rest and look at the view.

We were lucky to be here when many flowers were in bloom!

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Red campion

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Wild garlic

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Speedwell

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Stitchwort

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Blue bells

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Primroses – at first I thought these were someone’s garden plants gone astray, but after seeing great drifts of creamy white primroses on most of our hikes, I realized that these are native wildflowers here.

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Buttercups

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Lords and ladies arum

A side path led to monuments to historical figures.

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The path then turned eastward along the bluffs above an inlet to the river called Pont Pill.

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Looking east across Pont Pill.

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Looking west toward River Fowey estuary.

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Looking down past red campion and budding trees to Pont Pill.

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Up the stairs

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View out to sea

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Cattle on the Bodinnick Heights

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Down another flowery path

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More flowers

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Waypost

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Bodinnick Heights again, before the last descent.

We crossed Pont Pill,  and then headed toward Polruan to finish our walk.

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Pont Pill

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Waterfall on the south side, heading back up onto the headlands.

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Wild garlic lined path

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Wild Garlic

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Primroses

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Looking down on Pont Pill.

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Looking across to Fowey.

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Closer view…

At Polruan we took another ferry back across the River Fowey to Fowey harbor.

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Looking upriver…

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Fowey harbor – tide is out…

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Harbor wall, low tide.

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Looking back to Polruan from the landing.

Walking Around Fowey

I then poked around the town and bought a Cornish pasty to supplement our dinner.

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Church tower

I came across these signs on a gate which led me to discover that Kenneth Grahame’s book, Wind in the Willows, was thought to be partly inspired by time he spent in Fowey. DSC03547DSC03546

Lots of interesting rooftops, doors, windows, walls:

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Back in our cottage, we did laundry and prepared for going farther afield in Cornwall tomorrow.

Through Dartmore to Fowey – May 2, 2018 (18-43)

Day 7 – Road Day – Through Dartmoor to Fowey

Happy Birthday Dan! We had his celebratory birthday dinner the previous evening in Lyme Regis. We were as close as we may ever get to the Isle of Wight, he does not seem to be losing his hair, and we were very glad to be sharing this wonderful adventure. Onward to Cornwall, where Dan had planned several hiking adventures for us.

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Dartmoor National Park

We chose a slightly roundabout way to Fowey by driving through Dartmoor National Park. The moors are broad uplands bisected by river valleys. Rocky ‘Tors‘ cap the high points, and much of the landscape is divided by walled and treed hedgerows. Most of the land has or is being grazed and/or farmed at some point in history. This is not a USA style National Park, with wilderness and limited access. There are roads, villages, farms and livestock as well as walking paths (hiking trails). The land is being conserved in partnership with the farmers.

Our road wound up and onto the moors. We reached a parking area at what seemed to be the top of the moor and stopped to look around. There was a trail heading off to the nearby Tor – Mel Tor. We walked along the hedgerows, around the sheep and cow enclosures, and up a path to the top of the rocky promontory.  From the summit we could see moorland in every direction, and the River Dart to the south.

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View across Dartmore

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Nearby Bel Tor

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Our path to Mel Tor – sheep ahead

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Another sheep

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Up the hill

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Mel Tor

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Birthday boy at the top

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Views across Dartmore

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The River Dart below

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Another view on the way down

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Looking back to Mel Tor

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Another sheep

We continued our drive west, over the moors, planning to stop at the National Park Visitor Centre at Princetown for more information about the park.  But first we had to drive through a herd of wild Dartmoor wild ponies? Apparently they range freely over the moors, and we were lucky to see them before we knew that we should look for them.

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We stopped in Princetown for lunch and a visit to the National Park Visitor Centre.

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Sherlock Holmes tableau in the Visitor Centre

We stopped again at a picturesque viewpoint over the moor before leaving the National Park. The landscape reminds me of  the Land of Counterpane illustration from my childhood copy of the Robert Louis Stevenson book A Child’s Garden of Verses. I keep looking for that edition in used book stores but have yet to find it. The boy’s patchwork bedquilt was transformed to a land of hedgerows and fields, similar to my view here, and nothing like I see anywhere in the US. I think my love for British literature makes all the typical British scenes seem so magical to me. The western US is much different – dryer, wilder, more expansive, beautiful, but not ‘British’.

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Land of counterpane

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Hedgerow

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Gorse

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Our rental car

In Saltash we bought groceries for four days of home cooking at our self catering cottage in Fowey.

Fowey

Fowey is a Cornish village that is draped down the cliffs above the harbor on the estuary of the River Fowey. Our rented cottage was in a row of dwellings about a quarter mile above the harbor, not too far from the community carpark. The streets and lanes are very narrow and steep, and individual homes do not necessarily have car parking. We were able to park in a construction zone long enough to offload our luggage and groceries, then moved our car to the carpark and walked back down the hill via the scenic route, to the cottage.

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Narrow lane down to the harbor

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Upstream view of the River Fowey

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View across the estuary to where we would walk tomorrow

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Polruan, across the river

We walked all the way down to the harbor

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Upstream view from the quay

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Downstream toward the mouth of the River Fowey

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Local history

We walked past this church

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and around the maze of buildings and lanes, trying to get a feel for the locale. We were glad to have prepurchased our groceries – there were restaurants and Cornish pasty shops aplenty but I did not see any grocery stores. We enjoy eating out while traveling, but after a few days we miss our own cooking –  simpler, cheaper and healthier. We returned to our cottage for the evening.

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Our cottage

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View from the window

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Local artwork  depicting Fowey Harbor in our cottage

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