SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
SMUGGLING & FISHING
Polperro - Bodmin Moor - Plymouth Barbican
Polperro is, for many people, the favourite of all the Cornish fishing ports. This is where the master smuggler Zephaniah Job engaged his entire village in a smuggling enterprise; a spider's web of subterfuge that included the children of the village and even the vicar. We will discover the stories of this village that also include the pilchard fishing industry and visit the Heritage Museum. Be warned! You will almost certainly be tempted to munch a pasty or sample a cream tea at the House on the Props.
From there we will head to Bodmin Moor where you will truly begin to understand how the smuggling operation got the illicit goods up the country via the moorland routes. The bleak outlook of the old crossroads at Minions on Bodmin Moor is extraordinarily atmospheric and evocative notions of carts with muffled wheels and horses moving under the cover of darkness seem close to reality once you have visited this place. If you are a Poldark fan, this is the moorland scenery where scenes from the TV series have been filmed. From Bodmin Moor we will proceed to the Barbican port of Plymouth where the arch pirate and privateer Sir Francis Drake used to swagger. At the Barbican port, the aura of Elizabethan living can almost be tasted. Cobbled streets, overhanging upper stories and warehouse doors can be seen high up on the houses from which goods for loading would be lowered. In addition, the Elizabethan garden and Old Customs House, where Drake would negotiate his dues and taxes, help further to bring the past to life. Depending on your accommodation choice there is an opportunity on this tour to enjoy the earthiness of a Cornish male voice choir.
A moderate amount of walking will be undertaken on this tour, usually on tarmac.
Dartmoor Prison - Sheepstor Valley - Merrivale Stone Rows - Grimspound - Widecombe in the Moor - Haytor Rocks
Dartmoor in a day; fantastic. The highlight venues of our half-day tour will be included on this trip but so much more as well.
See farming boundaries set and then abandoned because of the Black Death in the 1300s but which are still evident when you know where to look.
Walk the area of Haytor Rocks to find the quarry as well as the extraordinary railway track. The quarry and mining industries left their mark all over the moor and despite the fact that nature is slowly reclaiming it all the rails of this track are still in place. Extraordinarily these rails are granite and have to be seen! Just imagine the strings of ponies towing and, more often than not, holding back the carts of rock as they descended off the moor with their carts of granite.
Visit the Bronze Age settlement of Grimspound and consider how and why the inhabitants chose to live there. Elsewhere we will stand between two stone rows of 150 metres in length and peer into one of the innumerable burial chambers. Getting in amongst the antiquities of the moor enables you to speculate about the astronomical expertise that enabled these ancient people to set these monuments in place. What were their motives? Did they really hike to Stonehenge each year? So many questions!
We finish the day with a Devon Cream Tea.
In general, the difference between this tour and The High Moor Highlights is that we will be able to venture further from the roads and get in amongst the Bronze Age antiquities of the moor which are so close to the road but so often ignored by tourists.
Some of the walking surfaces on this tour will be over rough ground so strong footwear is appropriate and a good coat always prudent.
The Port of Pirates, Pilgrims and Convicts
Rame Head - Cawsand - Ferry -The Hoe - The Barbican
This is a tour with a difference. It is an active day, well suited for family groups with teenagers. Begin your day with a short drive before walking around Rame Head, the headland that overlooks Plymouth Sound from Cornwall. After walking the coastal path to the waterside you will catch one of the ferries to Plymouth Hoe and then explore the Hoe and the Barbican.
Approaching Plymouth by boat adds another dimension to this tour and the mix of these travel experiences takes some beating.
En route, we will stop for lunch and a cream tea. These will be alfresco (unless the weather determines otherwise!).
Look out from the Hoe and see if there is any sight of the Armada before walking with an Elizabethan swagger down the back streets and quayside of Drake's Barbican port.
The history of this area is extraordinary. Plymouth was the last port of call for the Pilgrim Fathers who set off on their remarkable adventure to the New World as well as holding such strategic importance that it led to a siege of the town by the royalist forces of Charles I that lasted three and a half years.
From the Hoe you can also easily imagine the prison hulks (dismasted unseaworthy ships) that first held the French prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars, then the sailors of the American colonies, then the common felons of England (convicts destined for Australia.
So much history in a single day! Wow!
Walking the headland will take between two to three hours. Stout shoes will be necessary and a coat is often advisable.
Russell is a real winner - a wonderful attitude and he mixes facts with humour, fun and singing. - Elizabeth
His humorous and informative style made this tour a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Being able to change the itinerary halfway through to accommodate my wartime memories of evacuation from London was amazing; he worked out where I had lived, even though I had never ever known the address; I was too young! - Colin
An excellent guide with exceptional local knowledge. Nothing was too much trouble and the trip went like clockwork. - Glenda