So much to see and Do
Within easy reach of Cornwall’s coast and moors, the Tamar Valley is a very special corner of Cornwall where the friendly villages and stunning natural surroundings create a blissful ‘olde worlde’ charm all of its own. It is an area rich in beauty and history, possessing some of the finest scenery in the British Isles. The valley of the River Tamar – and its tributaries, the Tavy and Lynher – is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and much of the area forms part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.
The Tamar Valley has an impressive Tudor heritage, with a number of very beautiful houses and gardens dating to this fascinating period, open to visitors.
Houses, Gardens and Parks
- Cotehele House – National Trust
- Kit Hill Country Park
- Dartmoor National Park
- The Garden House
- Buckland Abbey – National Trust
- The Rame Peninsula
- Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park
- Launceston Castle
- Saltram House – National Trust
- Anthony House – National Trust
- Bodmin Moor
- The Tamar Information Centre
- Tamar Trails
- Scenic Tamar Valley Line to Plymouth
- River Tamar Cruise – April – October
- Calstock Arts
- Clay Pigeon Shooting including English Sporting layout
- Horse riding on Dartmoor National Park
Cotehele House – National Trust (3 miles)
Cotehele’s medieval origins provided a perfect setting for the Edgcumbes to show off their ancestral home to guests, such as King George III in 1789, the year before Sandhill House was remodelled. The Tudor house, with many stories and legends, is festooned with tapestries and adorned with textiles, arms and armour, pewter, brass and old oak furniture. Outside, explore the formally planted terraces, or lose yourself in the Valley Garden. Cotehele welcomes dogs on leads in some areas.
Kit Hill Country Park (2 miles)
A wild rugged granite hill top famous for it fine views and fascinating history. Kit Hill is a 400 acre Country Park at the highest point (334m) in the Tamar Valley and forms a dominating feature with stunning views over the valley and across to Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. Opportunities for walking, with dogs; rich in archaeology with signs of thousands of years of human activity – from a Neolithic long barrow (approx. 3000 BC) to 19th Century mining remains. Free and open all year.
The Garden House – Fortesque Garden Trust (11 miles)
The house and gardens that form The Garden House were bought in the 1940s by Lionel and Katharine Fortescue. Over the next 40 years the Fortescues created a garden which was – and continues to be – viewed as one of the finest in Britain.
By 1961 they had established the Fortescue Garden Trust, an independent registered charity, to which they bequeathed the house and garden to ensure the survival of this beautiful place for future generations. After their deaths in the 1980s ownership passed to the charity, which maintains the Fortescues’ lovely legacy.
Buckland Abbey (8 miles)
Discovery, tranquillity and history – an ancient gem in the Tavy Valley landscape!
When you visit Buckland, you follow over 700 years of footsteps; from the Cistercians who built the Abbey and farmed the estate, to seafarers Grenville and Drake who changed the shape of the house and the fate of the country.
The Abbey is part museum, part house, and filled with treasures such as the legendary Drake’s Drum. There’s no mistaking the magnificence of the Great Barn, which has remained virtually unchanged since it was built all those centuries ago.
You’ll discover meadows, orchards and woodlands where you can enjoy far-reaching views of the Tavy Valley. Our way-marked trails are a riot of colour through the seasons, with an unmissable carpet of bluebells in Spring.
With it’s pretty harbour villages, spectacular landscapes and golden beaches this unspoilt headland is one of Cornwall’s hidden gems. This is Cornwall’s so-called ‘Forgotten Corner’; tucked away, at the mouth of the Tamar Estuary, and often overlooked by tourists. The Rame combines the soft beauty of Cornwall’s south coast with the drama and exhilaration of the north coast, all in one beautiful corner. There are gentle hills sloping down to the southern coast where you find the pretty villages of Kingsand and Cawsand.
Mount Edgcumbe is the stunning Grade I Listed Tudor home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe along with it’s gardens and massive parkland. The house is located on the Rame Peninsula, above, that extends into the River Tamar, giving Edgcumbe and the surrounding grounds some spectacular views over Plymouth Sound, one of England’s finest natural harbours.
Mount Edgecumbe is open all year round. You can make a day of it by taking the scenic Tamar Valley line from Gunnislake to Plymouth and then the Cremyl Wharf Ferry over to Mount Edgcumbe. You can visit the spectacular house and gardens and then stroll around the coast to picture postcard perfect Kingsand and Cawsand, for a lovely Cornish cream tea. If you are lucky you will see the gigs our practicing or even racing.
Launceston Castle – English Heritage (15 miles)
Closed November – March inclusive
Set on a large natural mound, Launceston Castle dominates the surrounding landscape. Begun soon after the Norman Conquest, its focus is an unusual Keep consisting of a 13th-century round tower built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, inside an earlier circular shell-keep. The tower top can be reached via an internal staircase and once reached, offers breathtaking views of the historic town and countryside. This magnificent piece of Cornish history is just a 25 minute drive away.
Saltram House – National Trust (20 miles)
Still a largely undiscovered treasure, and the result of centuries of sophistication and extravagance, Saltram is the perfect day out: close to Plymouth and yet in a world of its own. Home to the Parker family for nearly 300 years, the house, with its original contents, provides a fascinating insight into country-estate life throughout the centuries. Fine Robert Adam interiors and beautiful collections bring the ‘age of elegance’ to life at Saltram.
Antony House – National Trust (25 mile)
View the outstanding collection of portraits, including works by Sir Joshua Reynolds and a famous painting of Charles I during his trial. There are also fine examples of period furniture, textiles and tapestries.
Breathe in the sweeping views as you explore the landscape garden, which includes a formal garden with topiary, modern sculptures and the National Collection of Daylilies.
The Woodland Garden, owned and run by the Carew Pole Garden Trust, also has outstanding rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and camellias.
The Tamar Information Centre (0.5 miles)
The Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or TVAONB for short, is a special area around the rivers Tamar, Tavy and Lynher. The area is famous for its mining heritage landscape. A team of dedicated staff and volunteers run projects and coordinate work to protect the Valley.
On one side is Devon, the other Cornwall. The Tamar Valley extends north from the broad estuary at Plymouth to the intricate, deeply incised river that meanders just below Launceston and Tavistock. It borders Dartmoor National Park to the east and the Kit Hill area to the west.
The exceptional cultural significance of the Cornish mining landscape transcends international boundaries. The permanent protection of this countryside is important to people all over the world. This is why the area has been given World Heritage status.
‘World Heritage’ status gives recognition to ‘Cornish Mining’s’ excellence as a world class cultural heritage site and recognises the importance of ‘Cornish Mining’s’ historic landscapes, its outstanding mine buildings and other features, in addition to its important role in technological innovation and scientific research.
The Tamar Trails, Kayaking and Tree Surfing (1.5 mi)
The Tamar Trails are 25km of new and improved trails which have been created as part of the Tamar Valley Mining Heritage Project. They open up parts of the Tamar Valley that were previously not accessible to the public. The Project celebrates the story of the Tamar Valley’s rich mining heritage, which forms part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site (WHS) and is located within the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), through a network of trails.
High ropes course, zip wires, archery, mountain biking and the Tree Jump! High-Octane Adrenaline fueled Tree Surfing. Tree surfing is an adrenaline-pumping, heart-thumping bird’s eye experience.Our incredible treetop eco-trail transports you to the truly awesome canopy of one of Britain’s prized woodlands. Test your limits, and get a natural high. A complex of ladders, rope bridges, zip wires and walkways gives you the freedom to explore our astounding native trees.
The Scenic Tamar Valley Line to Plymouth (5 min walk 2 min drive and fee car parking)
One of England’s loveliest Country Branch Lines, this fourteen mile railway skirts the edge of the magnificent River Tamar and its estuary before crossing the splendid Calstock viaduct joining Devon and Cornwall. The journey is full of contrasts taking in views of the Royal Naval Dockyard in Plymouth and Brunel’s famous Royal Albert Bridge over the Tamar, before crossing the Tavy viaduct into the quiet countryside of the Bere Peninsula. You can see the train timetable here. Gunnislake Station is just a 5 minute or less walk along our carriage drive or a 2 minute drive where car parking is free!
River Tamar Cruise (3 mi) 24 April – 31 October 2021
The Calstock Cruise is a truly idyllic four hour cruise which is the best way to experience the stunning scenery of the Tamar Valley. Why not take the Tamar Valley scenic train trip to Plymouth and then set sail across Plymouth Sound and up the River Tamar to the Cornish village of Calstock. Leaving the busy city behind you pass the Naval Dockyard and Brunel’s famous bridge, taking in the beautiful sights of the Tamar Valley, passing Cargreen, Wier Quay, Pentille, Holton and Cotehele. Or take the river cruise to Plymouth and catch the scenic train trip back to Gunnislake Station.
This year is going to be extra special with Plymouth Boat Trips putting on a special Mayflower 400 & Plymouth Harbour boat tour. Plymouth Boat Trips also offer Themed cruises such as watching the sun go down and Hallow’een!
Calstock Arts What’s On- 5 mins
Calstock Arts was established in 2010 and is a not-for-profit arts venue. It is largely staffed by a dedicated team of volunteers and now has charity status. Their programme is highly varied and includes folk, jazz and classical music, dance, films, talks, comedy, workshops and exhibitions.
They are based in The Old Chapel in Calstock, previously a Methodist chapel built in 1910. Restoration also resulted in an iconic picture window that looks across the river Tamar to Devon and has visitors gasping in admiration. Superb natural acoustics are greatly appreciated by both performers and audiences. Because the venue is so special many weddings are also held here.
Tavistock Trout Fishery has five lovely fly fishing lakes that are nestled on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park and are fed from the River Tavy.
The fresh water, pouring down from Dartmoor, keeps weed growth to a minimum and oxygen levels high allowing the growth of lovely specimen trout that are fighting fit, with good tails and taste good!
Records to date, Rainbow 31lbs-11oz and Brown 16lb-4oz. Wow!
Fish ‘N’ Trips! Plymouth Boat Trips offer an exciting fishing activity that’s suitable for everyone. They offer individual bookings or private charter trips. From family days, corporate team building and educational trips to birthday treats, hen and stag parties – fishing is a fantastic way to get out on the water, have fun and learn more about the local marine environment. All equipment and safety gear is provided on board so you don’t need to bring a thing, simply dress for the weather!
After your day’s fishing, why not relax and have your catch prepared and cooked for you at The Boathouse Cafe, situated on the quayside. Now that sounds perfect! But if you want to take your fish home, we can keep it cool or freeze it for you at Sandhill House.
Clay Pigeon Shooting
Lower Lake Shooting Ground – near Liskeard – 15 miles/25 minutes
This picturesque shooting ground was established in 1957 and is currently run by the ex England Open Champion, Bill Moussalli. The ground is suitable for all abilities and coaching is available, Englishe Sporting, Skeet, High Towers etc. practice of private lessons.
Cart Ridge Shooting Ground, near Landrake – 14 miles/24 minutes
This shooting ground is set in a most beautiful and scenic part of the Tamar Valley beside the River Tiddy, and just half a mile from the A38. This excellent ground features and extensive English Sporting layout. There is also a well stocked gun and outdoor clothing shop.
The Shooting Ground owned and run by David Dingle evolved in 1984 and is now a successfully run business with all the family involved. David runs Cart Ridge Shooting Ground together with partner Joan, daughter Hannah and her husband Justin. Fixtures List are held roughly once a fortnight – on a Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holiday – depending on the time of year. Tuition from novice to pre-season practice sessions which can be tailored to fit your requirements, are all by appointment only.
Importantly, Sandhill House can safely and legally store your own guns if you wish to bring them.
Horse Riding – 10 miles
Cholwell Riding Stables is a family-run business that has been providing escorted rides and riding lessons on Dartmoor for nearly forty years.
- Friendly atmosphere with experienced and helpful staff
- Nervous and novice riders welcome with tuition given
- Wide selection of horses and ponies to suit all
- Hats and other equipment provided free of charge
Situated on the A386 between Okehampton and Tavistock, next to the famous ‘Wheal Betsy’ Silver Lead mine, they are perfectly located to ride straight out onto Dartmoor with no need for any road work. This allows you to enjoy your whole ride on the moor and admire its breath-taking views at your own pace. Note: the postcode takes you to the wrong place.