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Cornish Times Feature May 2015

 

We Love the Tamar Valley

 

Everyone knows that the River Tamar forms the county boundary between Cornwall and Devon. Many of us cross it regularly, often over the beautiful Tamar bridge, or Brunel’s historic Royal Albert railway bridge.

 

But how many of us have discovered the unique and unspoilt beauty of the Tamar Valley stretching all along and around its route, from Launceston down to Plymouth, and from Callington in the west to Tavistock in the east.

 

A well kept secret, and nestled at the heart of the South West, the Tamar Valley was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1995. It comprises an area of about 195 sq km (75 sq m.), and its unspoilt and unique countryside have earned it environmental recognition, as a European Special Area of Conservation, and Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is rich in heritage and has Unesco World Heritage Site status, thanks to its many hundreds of years of mining heritage. Just think - that puts it up there with the Taj Mahal!

 

Easily accessible, and ideal for holidays, short breaks or days out, the Tamar Valley is one of the most unspoilt and tranquil areas of the UK. For information on what to do and see, where to go, and places to eat, visit www.welovethetamarvalley.co.uk. there is also a wide range of quality accommodation from hotels, to B&B and self-catering cottages.

 

There is so much to enjoy – for all ages and interests.

Walkers and cyclists can explore the Tamar Trails, the South West Coastal path, and extensive opportunities in and around the area, enjoying rich green countryside, moors, dramatic coastline, rivers & sandy beaches, as well as historic towns and castles.

Wildlife and nature lovers can visit a variety of nature reserves for birdwatching, and see the avocets arrive in January, to overwinter in the Valley. It is thought that ospreys may soon be nesting in the area.

There's plenty to do on and around the river.If you like fishing, you're spoilt for choice, with rivers, lakes and open sea opportunities all available. You can even have your catch cooked for you. There are river trips and dockyard and warship cruises on offer.

There is a rich cultural and archaeological history, with the boom in copper extraction focussed around the area in the mid-1800s.

For art lovers, or if you’ve just watched the cinema film “Mr Turner”- follow Turner’s sketching trail, and compare “then" and "now" views in the valley. Visit Port Eliot to see the largest collection of Joshua Reynolds paintings outside London. Visit the Drawn to the Valley Studios of contemporary arts & crafts, and talk to the artists in their own studios.

If you love historic houses and beautiful gardens, the Tamar Valley has the highest density of National Trust properties in the UK. Be sure to visit the National Trust's Cotehele House, Antony House, Saltram House and Buckland Abbey. Then there is English Heritage's Launceston Castle, plus Mount Edgecumbe, and Port Eliot.

Garden lovers and plantsmen alike will love the glorious gardens, such as the Garden House, which thrive in the mild climate, and visit members of National Gardens Scheme and National Plant Collection holders, and explore expert specialist nurseries for rare & interesting plants

For children of all ages, there is huge choice from donkey rides, to high adrenalin rush activities with Canoe Tamar, Treesurfers and zipwires, not to mention the range of activities on offer at the South West Lakes Trust's lakes and country parks.

Rail enthusiasts can ride the scenic Tamar Valley line between Gunnislake and Plymouth, have tea or even stay in converted railway carriages.

 

Last, but certainly not least, enjoy the superb local food and produce in the great range of restaurants, brasseries and gastropubs, and from the country markets.

 

Visit www.welovethetamarvalley.co.uk for ideas and information. The Tamar Valley awaits and welcomes you!