While you’re out enjoying some English wines and have the chance to visit some of our beautiful vineyards, don’t forget to look out for other attractions to visit. Here’s a taste of Devon & Cornwall.
The days that we were not amongst or around the vines during our stay at Eastcott Vineyard were utilised to explore what was to be a combination of visiting and tasting wines from other local producers as well as taking in one or two none wine related local activities.
The first place where we took advantage of this was immediately after our day at the Ruby Market where we had been helping out with Eastcott’s stall.
Armed with Grumpies of Cornwall pies, we took ourselves off to the nearby Dartmoor Railway. The railway is currently closed to a scheduled operating service but it is still worth a visit to Oakhampton station, which has been restored to its former Southern Railway glory. A station cafe is open most days with places to sit outside on the platform where you can watch various historic vehicles being lovingly restored.
This railway runs adjacent to the Granite Way cycle route and footpath and a walk or ride along this takes you past Meldon Quarry (once a main source of ballast for British Rail) and Meldon Viaduct that used to carry the main line over to Plymouth with such trains as The Atlantic Coast Express. Panoramic views can be enjoyed of the countryside around Meldon where plenty of footpaths have been created for various walks. We were not the only ones taking advantage of the glorious weather as we experienced a frequent procession of cyclists using the main track as well as one or two folk camping in the valley below close to the Okement River that runs along its contours from the reservoir, opened in 1972.
Later that week, we took ourselves on a journey which would involve several attractions in a single day; including a bit of wine tasting as a grand finale in the evening and all set against wonderfully sunny weather!
The first attraction on our schedule was the Launceston Railway. This is a narrow gauge railway built on just over two miles of the former North Cornwall Main Line and created by a husband and wife team Nigel and Kay Bowman (again, it was nice to see another husband and wife project success).
The station site at Launceston also includes a museum with displays of industrial artefacts as well as a small collection of classic cars and motorcycles. It is also close to the nearby English Heritage site of Launceston Castle that still stands guard over the town. Again, there is a pleasant cafe on the station where we whiled away some time watching the proceedings of the outbound steam service before heading off to our next destination.
Now winding our way into Cornwall and the temperature of the mid-day sun getting hotter, we called in to the heritage railway centre at Bodmin, which was already bussling with tourists. Here, we took in a visit to the locomotive and carriage works to witness several items of rolling stock under restoration whilst the steam service busied itself in the station for its next departure. The opportunity was then taken to have another lovely cup of Cornish tea whilst writing out a few postcards.
Now things were really beginning to heat up and the call for ice cream became ever more popular on our way to this lovely National Trust property.
Obviously many more people had the same idea as us because the place was very busy when we arrived. We decided that taking a slow walk through the well maintained gardens was the best option as the heat was starting to slow us down and it was more challenging to walk through the house as it was quite stuffy. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our visit, both agreeing that sticking to the gardens had been a good bet. The only downside is that we could not find an ice cream within the property so we decided to wait until we arrived at our next port of call, which was to be the delightful seaside harbour town of Padstow.
We parked in the car park in what used to be the town’s railway station. Its station building still standing proudly but no trains have called there for 50 years or more.
Padstow is a traditional Cornish harbour town and on our visit, was absolutely packed with folk enjoying the sun.
We decided to stick with tradition, the long overdue ice cream, from the Harbour Ice Cream Parlour, was calling but not before sampling a traditional Cornish Pasty, from the Padstow Pasty Co., and so many there were to choose from, with fillings to cater for all tastes and imaginations.
This is a place to simply slow down, take things easy, sit back and enjoy the comings and goings along the harbour front. Though a bit of a challenge was trying not to get dive-bombed by the gulls who seemed intent on getting their bit of pasty and if not, letting go of some cargo of their own!
Camel Valley Vineyard
As a couple of tight Northerners we do indeed like to get our money’s worth, although by now, we had reached our limit of attraction visiting endurance and needed quite rightly, something to drink. So our final call on this day was to drop in for the Wednesday evening Grand Tour at Camel Valley with no other than the man himself Bob Lindo, doing the honours.
Bob was very entertaining and kept the rather large tour crowd amused as well as informed about his wine and the English wine scene in general. He also proudly showed off his International Wine Challenge awards as well as drawing the crowd’s attention to the fact that HM The Queen also likes a tipple (or could that be quaff?) of Camel Valley fizz. Bob is currently also the only producer in the country to have a PDO site rather than the generic PGI that is tagged to all of England – times are indeed a’changing! We were also fortunate to arrive in time to see the first flowers appear on the vines.
The sun was still shining and the heat was on, so the chilled wine that was served was most welcome! A couple of purchases were made for something to savour back home (and hopefully to be drunk in similar sunny settings (we hope).
What a fabulous end to the day!
Our Star Choices:
Cornwall 2011 – Seyval Blanc & Chardonnay: Crisp fresh apple with some yeasty notes. Refreshing on a summer’s evening.
Bacchus Dry 2011: Crisp, fresh with aromatic Bacchus flavours. The fennel seed breadstick which was served with this drink helped to bring out and enhance the flavours of both the wine and the aniseed.
Other Wines tasted:
Rose 2012 – 100% Pinot Noir: Red fruits and a touch of creaminess. Quite light and delicate.
Cornwall 2010 – White Pinot Noir: Good mousse with red fruit character, autolytic notes and a good finish.
Sparkling Red 2010 – Rondo: very English characteristics, cranberry, elderberry and bramble. Red sparkling wine on the whole is not one of our favourite tipples, a bit of a novelty.
Tune in for a continuation of The West Country blog coming to a computer near you soon!