Tales from the Sea Garden

Tales from The Sea Garden

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Monday 25 November 2013

Calstock to Cotehele

I now spend a good deal of my time in Calstock, as this is where J lives. Together with Morwelham Quay Calstock was once the bustling centre of mining in the Tamar Valley, and during the 19th and early 20th Century the village thrived off market gardens and the flower growing industry, particularly daffodils and narcissi, which grew well on the south-facing steeply sloping sides of the valley and were sent to the flower markets of London by rail. Mum and Dad were coming to visit nearby Cotehele House today, and as it was lovely and still and sunny I decided to walk there.....this is my route......

The enormous viaduct which still carries the railway line dominates the valley, and terraces of small cottages are nestled into the cliff beneath.

 When the train goes over (and it is only ever two carriages long) it has all the appearance of a little toy chuff-chuff trundling along!


The road follows the gently flowing Tamar River, with Cornwall on this side, and Devon on the other.

along the road are dotted little interesting sheds and outhouses.....

including this old railway carriage.

Next comes the boatyard...

  and then you can look back at the viaduct in all its glory.

 At the bend in the river the path begins to climb steeply up through the woods towards Cotehele House......and glimpses of the garden can be seen. Below is the old stone dovecote.

Cotehele is now owned and protected by The National Trust. The Tudor Manor House is built around an inner courtyard

 At this time of year the main attraction in the Great Hall is the magnificent flower garland, created from over 40,000 individual flower heads as well as a mass of foliage, all grown in the garden and arranged over ten days by enthusiastic helpers. It is a Cotehele tradition that has been going on for years; quite how long I'm not sure. The enormous garland is suspended from the ceiling from one end of the Hall to the other.

 The fire had been lit and that wonderful smell of wood burning filled the air

A close-up of the garland reveals just how colourful it is and how many different flowers are used, but they are all varieties that dry well and so will remain looking good right up until Christmas.

The jaw bones of a whale adorn either side of this door, and a different flower garland of pink, purple and white.

 Pots on a side table contained all the different flower varieties that have been used to make the garland this year.

Dad wisely stayed in front of the warm fire whilst Mum and I had a look around the craft gallery. On the ground floor we found the 'Victorian Library', with an old restored harmonium which the public were invited to play. 

So Mum had a go and played a few merry tunes!

 The East front of the house....

with terraced gardens overlooking the valley towards Calstock. The afternoon sun was lighting up the trees beautifully.

 In the large orchard they have planted many old Cornish varieties of apple which were in danger of dying out. Kim Cresswell has created this living willow sculpture of man and horse.

  Lovely reflections.....I was thinking that trees at this time of year almost have the same appearance above ground as below....the bare branches look much like roots.

 After a nice warming cup of hot chocolate and piece of shortbread I said goodbye to Mum and Dad and headed back down the path through the woods; Calstock and the viaduct all lit up now in the setting sun.

The beech leaves are all hung out to dry.....

 A flash of red here and there......

On the wall by the roadside the most wonderful reindeer moss.....

 Back in the village I pass the little gallery,

and 'Make New and Mend', a second-hand clothes shop as well as an alteration service. These are the only retail outlets in Calstock apart from the general grocery store. It is a quiet, gentle place, a little bit bohemian, at the end of a dead-end, and I love it. Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of it too. x x x


  1. What a beautiful place and that garland... my goodness it is so lush.
    Thank you for sharing your walk it is a perfect opportunity for those of us so far away to see the beauty of your countryside that is often overlooked...
    Susan x

  2. Oh how hapoy i am to have found your blog to follow. This is the most lovely autumn post i have seen I want to live there!!!! That flower garland is what i cherish in life...people carrying on a tradition of taking the time to create such beauty. I just do not see anything like it here in America. Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful post of your walk with your lovely words to describe it. When this holiday season gets too busy or stressful i will return to your post to remind me of what is most important.

  3. I have done the same walk many times, and I still love it. I often visit the house and take my dogs for a lovely walk in the woods. Calstock is so pretty. I love all the tiny cottages and the narrow streets. I have not been to see the garland this year but in your pics it looks beautiful.

  4. Looks like a lovely place to spend some time. I wish I could!

  5. Beautiful photos from a lovely outing. What a picturresque place Calstock is. Such a wonderful spot to live, and how nice to be able to walk to Cotehele.

  6. Wonderful pictures, many thanks - brings back happy memories of a similar visit.

  7. A beautiful tour, thank you....I would love to visit.

  8. Oh yes......stunning pics and a trip down memory lane for me too! My family are all from Devon and Cornwall and as children we used to regularly visit Cothele....... thank you for sharing x

  9. Oh Christine, what a lovely post - and we are almost neighbours! I live opposite Cotehele Quay on the Devon side, if you stand down at the quay and look across you will see a slipway with small boat - that is ours, and our home is just up to the right through the trees. We often take the dog for a walk down to the beautiful viaduct - I just love the puffpuff train! I haven't been across to Cotehele yet to see the garland, but must do soon - your photos are glorious, you picked the perfect day weather wise.
    I saw you at Cowslip too and bought a couple of your lovely gifts - what a great Xmas fair, Jo works so hard and it is certainly full of temptation.
    We will no doubt bump into one another at some stage! x

  10. What a beautiful day out. The flower garland is absolutely stunning ... an amazing work of art. M x

  11. Just read your new post,oh that walk you took,delightful! I love the green shed and railway carriage and unspoilt cottages. A gentle quiet place.Axxx

  12. What a lovely place, the house looks like one I have been to but I don't remember any of the rest of it so it must have been somewhere else very similar.

  13. Everything is a stunner. The rose hip picture, dove cote and the garland is glorious. I recognize a lot of the everlastings in there as I used to work in an herb shop that grew and sold such things as globe amaranth and rattail statice, and looks like batchelor buttons are in there too. I've never seen such a thing.......you live in a most serene place.

  14. What a beautiful village you are living in. I love the small cottages and sheds. Thank you for sharing these beauties.

  15. What a stunning place, everything is so amazing to my eyes, I'm fond of Great Britain, especially this Great Britain !!
    Thank you for sharing such beauty in your so lovely blog, you've really made me do such a charming dream <3