Buckland, Dartmoor and Cotehele
We headed north. By ten we were at the home of Sir Francis Drake, Buckland Abbey. Once a Cistercian Abbey, after the Dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII it passed into private ownership. Various houses were inserted into the abbey space to produce a curious historic hybrid. The stewards at these National Trust properties are all very game folk, boning up on different aspects of the buildings and ready to regale you with insights, all on a volunteer basis. They turn architectural visits into a very human experience.
Then we were off across Dartmoor, just the briefest hike across a vast range of wilderness, up a couple of Tors (small stony peaks)among scores of free-ranging Dartmoor ponies ... picking our way across acres of pony sheep and cattle droppings, but otherwise glorious.
Then through Tavistock (voted England's favourite market town, though for us too clogged with traffic) and on to Cotehele. This is another National Trust property ... and following the signposts to it took us from Devon into the county of Cornwall. It was intriguing to be driving the same narrow windy lanes, with steep green banks, I was last on as a child on summer holidays. Cotehele is a grand house on an intimate scale, almost a Normandy village in feel. On from there down to the River Tamar where an old mill has been restored into fine working order.
A good burst of landscape, river views, history and fresh air does wonders to clean the head.
I still managed to head outdoors with the wrong keys this Sunday morning, and ended up having to leap over a glass-studded wall and a spiked fence ... so the next trick is maybe to extend the Saturday off into a whole weekend. A liberating thought.