Monday, 10 April 2017

Walking the Tamar Trails

Tamar Trails map 
Now that we are back in the UK, we expect to be in our Devon home right through the summer and probably most of 2017's winter too so we will have lots of time to explore the county! On Thursday we drove over the top of Dartmoor to Tavistock, primarily to meet up with our friends Chris and Marta, and also to go for a walk in the Tamar Trails.

Located in the Tamar Valley, just across the river from Cornwall, the Tamar Trails is a 25km network of family trails and outdoor activities in this unique and stunning area of Devon. It is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site. I already knew about the walking / running / cycling trails, but had no idea I would find so much history too.

Arsenic mine ruins 
We parked at the Scrubtor car park (which is free) and walked along the green and then red routes as far as the Beech Cafe. The trails are all natural, passing through woodland. We paused to examine remnants of the arsenic mines here. Slightly worrying signs warn of the danger of arsenic poisoning and what looked like a large slag heap is still devoid of plant life decades after mining ceased. There is an interesting little information centre in a derelict building which is worth a look in. William Morris, the textile and wallpaper designer, profited significantly from the mine as a shareholder whereas the men, women and children actually working there were paid just pennies despite the risks to their lives.

Chris, Dave and Marta learn about mining 
Midway through our 10.5km walk, we reached the Beech Cafe which is located at Tamar Trails' hub. It was a gorgeous afternoon so we were lucky to get one of the tables outside in the sunshine. The Easter Egg Trail was popular and we saw a happy group returning from the TreeSurfing area. I browsed the running shop - there's also a weekly Parkrun here - before being diverted by excellent tea and cake next door! We can recommend the beetroot and chocolate cake as well as the avocado and courgette cake. Both are gluten free, but if I hadn't been told, I wouldn't have known from tasting them!

Beech Cafe staff and cakes! 
I was glad to have refuelled before tackling the return leg. None of the walking here is technically difficult, but the ups and downs are pretty steep in places! I did find myself inspired to undertake my first short run in months when we got home - two miles in twenty-one minutes with only two very short walks en route. My calves were sore for the next two days though!

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