Friday, 4 September 2015

A pretty canal walk from Lumburn Court to Tavistock

We were fortunate, weatherwise, to arrive when we did at our new
Poetry sculpture on the Tavistock Canal 
campsite of Lumburn Court (just outside Tavistock in Devon). Chatting with other campers and the owners here, I learned that just last weekend the field had been so waterlogged that it wasn't possible to drive across. Happily, it had just been reopened in the days before we got here so we now have a very pretty pitch right by the side of the River Lumburn. There is so little other sound at night that we can hear the water gurgling past, a sound almost like a West African talking drum. Lumburn Court is a Caravan Club CL priced at £13.50 a night including the awning. For that price we get the usual electric hookup, water and waste facilities plus a toilet and shower hut too. The shower is lovely! This is the first CL to require a deposit upfront - we had to send a cheque for three nights fees - and the owners wanted the rest of our fees paid on the day of arrival. Very different to the lackadaisical approach we have encountered elsewhere, but at least we don't now have to spend time tracking anyone down purely in order to pay them.

Lumburn Court CL 
The site has a private dog walk in an adjoining field which is also
Lift bridge and lock gate on the Tavistock Canal 
picturesque. A mown pathway follows the river line and I disturbed a heron fishing there. I have been scrumping blackberries too! Away from the campsite, a short walk up the side of the busy road gets us to a footpath leading to the canal into Tavistock. The whole route into town is about three miles and we walked it there and back today. Tavistock Canal was built in 1803 and opened in 1817 to carry metal ores. Unusually it has a slight downward slope along its length enabling a consistent flow of water which apparently powered waterwheels. The canal itself isn't used anymore, but the towpath is a popular walking and cycle route into town - useful as it negates the steep hill and also avoids fast traffic on a narrow no-pavement road.

The three-arched sculpture shown in the first picture frames poetry
Shillamill Viaduct 
about the canal written by students at Tavistock College together with poet in residence James Crowden. Other interesting sights included the lift up bridge pictured above and the Shillamill Viaduct which originally carried train traffic but closed in 1968. The high arches reminded me of a sustainable energy idea I recently read about: to situate circular wind turbines under high bridges. This one might be perfect if the structure could still cope with the extra weight. It looks solid enough!

Once in Tavistock, we visited four shops in search of a new electric hob
Pannier Market sign 
as our Portuguese one has decided to stop working after not even two years. We think the problem is somewhere in the wiring and Dave has taken it apart, but a repair would take more of a workshop environment than we are able to create. We couldn't find a replacement in Tavistock so may have to resort to getting one posted from Amazon. However, we did enjoy exploring the wonderful Pannier Market which has quite an array of independent shops, stalls and cafes. We bought homemade cake slices and vegetables in the market, and got some delicious hickory smoked sausages from the butcher there that I served up with our runner beans from Calstock. I also spotted a wholefoods shop with a ChufaMix vegan drinks maker advertised in the window. What more could any kitchen need? I could make my own Horchata!

Tavistock has a huge park with play areas for both kids and grown-ups. There is also plenty of history including the wonderfully named Betsy Grimbal's Tower, a fifteenth century edifice whose name is probably a corruption of Blessed Grimbald - a ninth century saint. We definitely want to go back and explore some more as we began to tire before we had seen everything and still had a three mile walk home. Excitingly, that homeward traipse was enlivened by the blue flash of a kingfisher so we were happy not to have taken the lazy option of bussing it.

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