This seven-mile walk on St George’s Day began at Cotehele Quay.   The steep climbs and descents through fields, lanes and wet slippery woodland tracks made the walk strenuous in places but this didn’t deter the 14 members who enjoyed the day out despite the anticipated rain.   

 Luckily, the few short showers fell while the group was under the cover of trees.  It was a mostly fine day with good visibility and great views.  The 1,300-acre Cotehele estate in the Tamar Valley had been in the Edgcumbe family since the mid-14th century but is now owned and managed by the National Trust (NT).  

The medieval and Tudor manor house together its outbuildings, gardens, orchards, mill and quay was built into the banks of the Tamar and has changed little over five centuries.  The gardens are beautiful especially at this time of the year and next week the NT will be holding a Festival of Blossom.  The quay was once a bustling Victorian wharf, an important hub in the transportation of limestone, coal, timber and soft fruit. The Victorian sailing barge, Shamrock is still moored here and is one of the last traditional Tamar sailing barges. Built in 1899 and working for about 70 years, she carried manure and stone.   She has a flat bottom which allowed cargo to be loaded and unloaded on an open beach.

Cotehele Quay is home to colonies of lesser horseshoe bats roosting in hollowed out trees, the limekilns and nearby holiday cottage chimneys.  Also, pipistrelle, noctule, natter’s and Daubenton’s bats can be seen at dusk.

Shortly after leaving the quay, the group crossed the 19th century medieval style bridge passing Dung Quay, so-called because of the horse dung brought from Plymouth’s streets and docks to fertilise soil. The nearby limekilns are thought to be late 18th century. 

 The walkers continued towards Bohetherick and up through woodland towards Cotehele Mill, an historic watermill set in a wooded area of the Morden Valley. Associated buildings house artisan craft workshops including a wheelwright, blacksmith and saddler replicating those found on typical c19th century country estates. 

 Until recently, the mill was powered by water that flowed from a nearby weir and milled its own flour.  Sadly, the weir was washed away by flooding a few years ago so the mill is currently unable to operate.  

 The group continued through the mixed oak, ash, sweet chestnut, sycamore and beech woodland until they reached the village of St Dominick named after St Dominica, a child of an Irish king who sailed up the Tamar in about AD 689 and established a religious settlement.    Part of the route today was on the St Domenica Heritage Trail developed by the parish council in 2017 linking three hamlets to the village.  A particularly difficult stretch of the walk was on a medieval sunken lane, or Holloway, which had been used to transport materials from the local mills.   

Reaching Boar’s Bridge the walkers continued into Comfort Woods emerging at Newton. 

 The final mile or so took them back along lanes and down through woodland past the Chapel in the Wood overlooking the Tamar. Here, Sir Richard Edgcumbe, the 15th-century courtier, made a narrow escape from King Richard III’s men in 1483.  

On finishing their walk, the group enjoyed ice-creams at the Edgcumbe tea rooms formerly the 19th century Edgcumbe Arms Inn at the quayside.

As ever, new walkers are always welcome. You should be suitably attired for all weather conditions, including sturdy footwear and bring a drink and a packed lunch. Meet at the post office in George Street, Okehampton on Sundays ready to leave at 9.30am. Next week the walk will begin at Lowery Cross.   Members share cars so please be at the post office in plenty of time so the group can leave promptly. Car drivers with spare seats are encouraged to meet at the post office to offer lifts to non-drivers.