Up at 7 – God I wish I could sleep in! Very misty in the valley. Sat for nearly two hours writing up my journal entry for yesterday. Going through various books I found a funny story regarding the moorland ponies around Tavistock.
Apparently they were pretty keen on grazing the practice putting green at Tavistock Golf Course. Once discovered, a padlock was put on the self latching gate which the ponies had managed to unlatch. This did not, however, deter the clever ponies. One night one of them was observed lying down next to the cattle grid and rolling its legs over, so it could stand up on the other side. How fantastic is that?
Also found out that Chipshop was a miner’s shop. A lot of the mines would pay in tokens called ‘chips’ which could only be used in the mine’s own shops. Talk about keeping the money!
We were going to Plymouth today but there’s not a lot of trains so we are planning to leave early tomorrow instead. So it was off to Whitchurch, a little village outside of Tavistock and on the edge of Dartmoor. The reason we decided to visit is because Edward Eyre, 19th century Australian explorer (the lake is named after him) is buried in St Andrews, Whitchurch.
It took a lot of searching. The guide book helpfully says the grave is ‘a few yards from the NW end of the church…’ but without a compass I had NO hope of finding it so we searched a few yards out from each corner until we found it. It turned out that a few yards is actually 50.
We also found the grave of Mary Metters who was ‘barbarously murdered by Sam’l Norton her servant, with a bill hook…’! Also stopped to admire the Parish Stocks. These are no longer in use! In fact they were found on a farm in 1970 and now sit in a big display case. They were made and in use in 1809.
Inside, the church is rather austere. Being close to 2 abbeys, one assumes they fared badly during the dissolution. There’s an interesting memorial to the Moringe Family of Moortown. It is early 17th century and has a row of carved kneeling figures representing the family. 3 of the figures are holding skulls – these are thought to represent children who died as infants.
Originally this church was dedicated to St White but was re-dedicated in the 14th century to St Andrew. According to the guidebook, St White was possibly Albanus, a Devon man who went with Boniface of Crediton on his missionary journeys to Germany where he was martyred in 754. St Andrew, on the other hand, was a fisherman and St Peter’s brother. In fact, he introduced Peter to Jesus. He’s also the patron saint of Scotland. I have no idea why Whitey fell out of favour but his/her history is still mostly unknown. One theory claims St White was a woman and her name forms the village name of Whitchurch. Perhaps this is why they changed the name! Otherwise you’d just be saying White’s Church, White’s Church! She’s actually buried in Whitchurch, Dorset – when her grave was opened in 1900 the bones found were identified as being female.
There’s a few Drakes buried throughout the church as Whitchurch is close to Crowndale where they lived, before moving to Kent.
Leaving the church and decidedly crowded graveyard, we continued in the direction of Dartmoor rather than go back to the main road from whence we’d come. Partly because it looked good but mostly because a truck had arrived opposite the church to drop off a few palettes of bricks for the new Whitchurch Hall, effectively blocking the entire road to anything wider than a pushbike without pedals. The other way was much prettier, anyway.
Horses, sheep and golfers roam the verges, threatening to dive into your path without notice. Of course this is really only a problem for the crazy fools driving above the 40mph limit – and there’s many! We kept driving until we reached a car space at the foot of a low tor which looked easily climbable. We parked and set off for the summit. What an amazing view! I think it was Cox Tor and commands an incredible view of the Burrator Reservoir, the overflow of which flows via the Meavy into the River Plym. We wandered past grazing sheep, well accustomed to rambling humans, to a second peak then back to the car. Mirinda rested in a hollow halfway back and out of the almost constant wind.
We then continued on to Princetown, home of Dartmoor Prison, then back to Tavistock via Merrivale, impressive for its ugly open cut mine.
In the morning I read about a walk up to the disused Tavistock viaduct so I left Mirinda in the pasty shop and set off. The climb up to the Glanville Road was a bit fierce! The unnamed town steps, known originally and for some reason, as the ‘Tunnel’, winds rapidly up in what feels like a 1:1 gradient. But the exertion is well worth it. The reward is a lovely view of the town and the chance to walk across a viaduct.
Obviously there is no longer a railway there. In fact, on the opposite side, where the tracks should be there stands a group of 4 houses and next to them the old station. This is now a private residence but the owner has kept it looking exactly like a station – bet they get a few people coming to the door, asking to buy tickets!
I continued on down the hill and under the arches, back into West Steet. A lovely loop of the town. I even had a cheery ‘How Do’ from a bobby. Such a pleasant place. On the way back I tried to duck into the church to get a picture of the Burne-Jones window but was thwarted by a christening in progress. Instead I joined Mirinda in a lamb and mint pasty and a latte…not literally!
It was then back to the cottage for a lovely lay in the shady breeze, listening to Colin having fun in a tractor. We watched Bone Collector before going to dinner – what a pathetic film! I have no problem suspending reality for the sake of a good story, but there were no reasons for this plot! In fact, giving the characters a bit more credibility would have made the thing easier to swallow. Oh well, just a movie. Mirinda thought Charlie’s Angels was silly yesterday but it was so much better than Bone Collector which takes itself far too seriously!
And then it was off to the Horn of Plenty for a delicious dinner. The grounds are just as fabulous as the food. The building, which is also a guest house, is perched on the side of the valley, looking down towards the Tamar River – actually just round the bend from the cottage. We had a pre-dinner drink outside, watching the flowers bloom. Then ordered dinner and wine. All very relaxed though nicely formal with it and I’m glad I bought the shirt! We were eventually shown to our table, which was by the huge plate glass windows with an eagle’s view of the valley.
Entrée was scallops and king prawns, main course was lamb for me and duck for Mirinda – all perfect. We had a lovely Veronese red with it. Dessert was crème brulee for me and honey ginger cake for Mirinda who said her’s was fantastic. I, however, have to report that the brulee was a let down. I might be a bit picky but it was a tad egg-y. Still, all in all, a wonderful night out. And we were back by 9:30pm.