After wandering around the village of Calstock we went on to nearby Cotehele. Cotehele is a National Trust property and gardens located in St Dominick, near Saltash. Cotehele house is a Tudor house and was once home to the Edgcumbe family.
We decided to explore some of the gardens first as there was a break in the rain showers. We thought the terraced gardens outside the house were just stunning and made such a lovely addition to a beautiful looking house. We attempted to follow the map down through the lush gardens to the Quay, taking a few detours on the way. On the walk we passed the Chapel in the Wood and admired views over the River Tamar.
Down at Cotehele Quay you can sit watch the boats go by whilst enjoying a cuppa from the Edgcumbe Tea Room or take a look at the ‘Shamrock’ which is a large restored sailing barge. There’s also the Discovery Centre which has some interesting facts in and Nathan and I stopped to play a couple of games of noughts and crosses on the chalkboards.
After looking at the map we were provided with at the entrance, we were slightly put off by the steep walk we faced to get back up to the house. We noticed a sign for the shuttle bus that takes you to and from the Quay and House and decided we would be lazy and get the bus back. However, after closer inspection of the sign we found it suggested a 50p donation to ride the shuttle – neither of us had any change, not even enough for one of us! Although it said it was only a suggested donation I think I would have felt awkward getting on and not paying.
I went and asked one of the helpful volunteers which route he recommended for us to get back up to the house. He suggested that before we went back up to the house we could walk another 10 minutes (on the flat) to get to another National Trust site Cotehele Mill. He then said we could loop back around and it wouldn’t be too much of steep walk back the way we came in the car to the entrance.
So we made our way to the Cotehele Mill. Here we were greeted by another enthusiastic National Trust staff member who told us a little about the mill and what we could see. We were virtually the only people looking around which was nice and meant we could have a good go at grinding our own flour and testing out the wooden scales.
The mill here is a working mill which has a big water wheel connected to the Morden Stream. The mill makes wholemeal flour and you can see how the process all works whilst viewing the machinery. There’s a video which tells you all about the milling process and lots of additional information to read should you be interested to find out more. There’s a little bakery section downstairs in one of the out buildings where on some days volunteers come to do demonstrations of bread making using the flour made at the mill. The flour can also be brought from the shops both at the Mill and at Cotehele House (£2.50 a packet if I remember correctly).
After visiting the Mill we made our way back up the zig zagging path to the main road that takes you into the car park at Cotehele House. The walk was definitely steeper and sweatier than the staff member at the Quay had led me to believe but we were in no rush and made it in the end eventually.
After a quick stop off at the car for a picnic lunch we made our way back into the estate and to Cotehele House. Here we were greeted with many grand rooms full of tapestries on the walls and dark wooden furniture. It’s quite dark inside the house as there are no electricity mains but I think this adds to the atmospheric, old fashioned feel.
There’s a World War 2 exhibition in one of the rooms which I found the most interesting. There were quite a few people exploring the house at the same time and it made it a little hot.
There were more gardens to see at Cotehele but after being there nearly three hours we decided it was time to move on to another National Trust place we wanted to visit, and off to Buckland Abbey we went!