We had seen some of the north Devon and Somerset coasts on the way into Cornwall. We’d then spent a full day down the west coast and to the south coast. Today is our second and last full day in Cornwall. We definitely wanted to see a nearby historic house, Lanhydrock and also thought we might venture to the coast, maybe see another of the quaint little seaside villages with steep streets and winding lanes, Fowey. Our host, Nigel, gave us an idea for another place to stop and a good hint about parking in the seafront town of Fowey. In spite of our plan to have a less busy day, we still ended up doing and seeing quite a bit though we didn’t travel so far at least.
The weather ended up being mostly overcast with a little sun breaking through at times and mostly dry. We stopped to fill the tank and then to Lanhydrock, an estate near the Bodmin moors in east Cornwall.
The house dates back to the mid 1600s and stayed with the same family, the Robartes, until 1969 though the National Trust has run it since the early 1950s. One descendent still lives in a cottage on the grounds. The house was originally four sided around a courtyard but is now a U shape around that same courtyard.
In the late 1800s it caught fire and was rebuilt with the most modern conveniences available at the time. They had a huge staff and were able to save a lot of things from the fire, from furniture to paintings to books and all sorts of decorative items. The Long Gallery is still original, is lined with old books, and has an amazing carved plaster ceiling from the 17th century showing Bible scenes from Genesis all over.
The parking lot at the estate is near a garden shop, entrance and gift shop. It’s a 600 yard walk down a gentle incline to the gatehouse but there’s also a little shuttle buggy that can take you back and forth if you want, for a small price. There is disabled parking closer to the house but you have to pre-arrange that at the entrance building. There is an old chapel and an elaborate gatehouse and the grounds have acres and acres of garden and woodland park.
There are over 50 rooms over 3 floors to see including various kitchens and food prep rooms, family rooms and servants’ quarters. So many wonderful pieces of furniture and thousands of items to look at. We both thought it felt very “homey” and lived in which it had been, but it didn’t have that sterile or musty museum feel to it. I particularly liked the Nanny’s room, the nursery and the childrens’ rooms, with the toys and doll house set up, framed photos and a crib in Nanny’s room. The kitchens and sculleries have all kinds of Victorian items, dishes, pots and cooking implements. The estate manager’s office is chock full of books, ledgers and papers. The bedrooms still have shoes and clothing on display and there’s even a room in the top floor filled with old luggage!
We spent a wonderful couple of hours exploring and then from there, we drove to the town of Lostwithiel, a place Nigel had recommended. It has a very old bridge over the River Fowey and has some nice little shops and restaurants. We walked a little, and went to look into the old church, St. Bartholomew’s and the first thing we noticed was shoes lining both sides of the path, mostly children’s shoes with flowers in them. Inside, the church was filled with all kinds and sizes of flower arrangements, sponsored by many local businesses. We had stumbled on a Floral Festival with the proceeds benefiting a hospice and the church. Wow, some of them were quite inventive or had items in the arrangement that represented the sponsor’s business such as a microscope and little antique medicine bottles for the pharmacy. All were so beautiful! There were flowers outside, too, in the porch, representing the River and old bridge and another around the base of an old Celtic cross.
Outside there were a couple of tables with chairs and you could buy tea or coffee and cake, which we did, as the sun was more or less out by then. Besides, it benefited the charities!
We had also noticed on the map a sign for a castle nearby so we decided to check that out. A mile or so up a very narrow road from the centre of Lostwithiel we found the ruins of Restormel Castle, an English Heritage property. It’s a round structure on a mound and looks more like a castle keep. It was more of a fortified stronghold for Edward the Black Prince, who was the oldest son of Edward III. He died before he could become King. We poked around there for a bit and left when it started to sprinkle. We were getting hungry and it was past mid-afternoon. Surely there would be some old historic pubs in the centre to choose from?
We got on the way to Fowey (pronounced ‘Foy’) and, following Nigel’s advice (and more very narrow roads) we found a parking lot down by the water but not right in the centre where the narrow winding streets were. We really wanted to avoid the situation we’d got in back at St. Ives! The other main tourist parking lot is at the top of the town. Downhill to walk but a steep hike back up afterwards though I think there’s a shuttle! Where we parked there is also a ferry to a village across the sound.
We walked through the little streets, barely wide enough for a small car, squashing against doorways of the cottages when cars or the town mini bus (!) came along. By the time we got to the main square it was nearly 3:00 and guess what? It turns out, at least this time of year, the pubs all stop serving food at 2:30 and don’t start again until evening!!!! We were directed to a cafe…closed. Most of what else we saw were little cafes and tea shops but we wanted something substantial.
We finally found a restaurant with a full menu and had a late lunch there. It was actually more like an early evening meal judging from the cost of it. I had fish and chips and Graham had a steak and we had a cream tea with scones for our dessert. It was very good and we were very full. I had one of the scones wrapped up to take back to the hotel because I was very sure I wouldn’t want anything more to eat in the evening than that. Graham bought a sausage roll at a bakery for the same reason.
We walked a bit more and looked in the shops. I got a couple of prints and a few little bits and pieces in the tourist information shop and we took the mini bus back to the parking lot. There were only two others waiting but when it arrived, all these people came out of nowhere including someone with his elderly mother in a wheelchair! They had been parked at that other parking lot way up the steep hill. We all squeezed in and we made it back to the car in one piece.
When we got back to the hotel, we actually had a bit of a nap then later had a drink in the bar. We are the only guests in the hotel tonight so we have it all to ourselves. We took our beer down to the cellar to play a few games of pool which was fun. Sort of. I lost every game!
In the morning we packed up the car and headed out after another wonderful breakfast. I would highly recommend the Pendragon Country House! We made good time to our next destination, the lovely city of Bath where we were to meet some friends and have a wander around the city. Graham had never been there though I had but both of my previous visits were less than successful, the first being a short stop during a bus tour of the UK and the second one with me fighting off what turned into a bad virus. It broke up the trip back to Manchester nicely. I really would like to go back to Cornwall again, there are so many little villages and coastal areas to explore with spectacular scenery everywhere!