Dwight Peck's personal website

Cornwall and Devon in the autumn

Whenever things start to pile up and get on top of you, it's time to take some time off and go to Cornwall.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

A few more rainy days, before the sun bursts down upon us

It's another rainy day at Beera Farm, 28 October 2009, but Kristin doesn't care as long as there are sheep to talk to.

These are some of our new friends. They're telling us all about life on Beera Farm. In the rain.

We're trying to go for a hike on Beera Farm, but our new friends don't want us to leave. There's no hiking here anyway -- down into that little valley to the creek and the property line, and that's the end of it. Probably understandably, everything's obsessively fenced off, so the little sheeps will stay where they belong and we'll find something else to do today.

Like thread our way through the serried country lanes past Milton Abbot and see what Brent Tor's about

The tor itself is the remains an "early Carboniferous basaltic volcano", as I suspected.

There are unarchaeologized Iron Age earthworks and what's left of a multi-rampart proto-ancient hill fort all around here, so it's natural that it's all a bit creepy and pre-ancestral. But the relatively recent 13th century church of St Michel de Rupe is reassuringly familiar -- it's still used on Christmas and Easter though it's not completely wheelchair accessible and it's very popular for weddings, debutante coming-out parties, and bar/bat mitzvahs.

Cute interior, old baptismal font as is to be expected -- the place holds 40 Christian celebrants or mere tourists inside, any number outside the door straining to hear what's going on in the Inner Sanctum, which is seldom a lot.

It's a crime. Fine 20-year-old men being killed for no reason in Iraq. Never again.

Depressing; I'm getting out of here.

A misty view out over the ancient lands roundabout -- we're on the northwestern edge of Dartmoor here and everything's suitably bleak, especially on a rainy day.

In fact, our tourist objective today is the famous Lydford Gorge, but what with one thing and another the afternoon has slipped right past us, and we'll need to hurry along even to get in the front gate.

With a last heaving sigh, we leave the sombre and cheerless Tor, horribly depressed by all these timeless vestiges of death and decay, but also curiously uplifted by the atmospheric views of the green rolling countryside, though bummed out that the drizzly rain pretty much ruined the view; but enthusiastic about our impending late-afternoon visit to the Lydford Gorge.

Lydford Gorge; here we are. A National Trust property, therefore not cheap, and with rather a stern woman at the cash register who, after the usual hard sell to take out the full year's National Trust membership, admonished us by no means to venture past the bridge over the river Lyd at the "White Lady Waterfall", but rather to bob straight back up to the carpark before night falls and we die of exposure and general decrepitude in the inner depths of the attraction before the wardens open it up again in the morning.

There was no discount, however, for late-comers walking down the 50 or 60 vertical metres to the "White Lady Waterfall" (give me a break!) and straight back up again, so Kristin determined that we will hurry along up the whole gorge pathway anyway, just to prove the point. And probably risk arrest.

So we're off on the normal mid-day tour up the gorge, a mile or two of interesting creek side and then back high up on the far side, with carparks at either end of it. (Infuriating cash-register lady.)

At some places, the water-cut rocks and pools are very beautiful -- nothing so fine as many Swiss gorges, like the Chauderon above Montreux (which is free), but still beautiful in some places. Features along the way are adorned with painfully labored names like "The Devil's Cauldron", The Devil's This and The Devil's That. Probably "Merlin's Cauldron" somewhat farther to the west.

This is a life preserver you should throw to someone who's fallen into the gorge and is being washed speedily away down the Lyd to the sea. You just read through the directions on the box, extract the life preserver, and then throw it.

Kristin, awaiting stragglers, is consulting our little map of the place and reckoning our chances of getting out again before dark.

A wet and rough hewn path along the creek, far the most interesting part of the walk

The daylight is holding, and anyway there are a few stray headlamps that live in my little backpack, si jamais.

We're back to the parking lot well before midnight, and feeling smug that we didn't plunk down significant sums just to see the "White Lady Waterfall" and lumber back up the same path. At least we got to see "The Devil's Cauldron". The cash register lady had gone home by the time we got there, so we couldn't score any points off her, but we still got to feel smug, and then to white-knuckle ourselves back through the narrow lanes and celebrate our achievements at the Royal Inn at Horsebridge, with "real ales".

After some days at the Beera Farmhouse, it's time to move on, and the next day we're crossing Dartmoor, bleak home of the Hound of the Baskervilles, on our way to visit sarcophagi in Exeter. That'll be fun.

Kristin on the Dartmoor steppes, leaning back against 130 mph winds.

A farm building, it seems, down there, and a tor on the horizon. The northwestern parts of Dartmoor are a military artillery training range -- the military seems to take whatever they like, have you noticed?, in nearly any country you visit, and it's very unmasculine to question that -- but there's no shooting big-bang-bang today so we can wander around a bit.

Beautiful desolate landscape, right here in the middle of Britain. Well, not in the middle, exactly. There's a tor on the horizon. We also saw, in the distance, a widely dispersed flock of sheep being rallied round and headed off by a guy on a horse, a dog, and another guy on an ATV.

Horses on Dartmoor.

Kristin watching horses on Dartmoor, and our hired car waiting patiently to take us on to visit Exeter.

Pubcrawling in Cornwall and Devon, 2009
Cadgwith Cove to Lizard Point
Mullion to Lizard Village
St Mawes Castle, Falmouth
Cotehele, Buckland Abbey
Polperro coastal hike
Brent Tor, Lydford Gorge, Devon
Exeter and Cardiff before the plane

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 2 December 2009, revised 26 April 2013.

Devon and Cornwall, 2009

Devon and Cornwall, 2006

Devon and Cornwall, 2004

Devon and Cornwall, 2003