Our walk today takes place on land owned by the National Trust, a charity devoted to preserving and protecting historic places and spaces. The National Trust bought their very first house, Alfriston Clergy House in Sussex in 1896 for £10 (about £600 in today’s money). It is believed that a decorative cornice in one of the rooms there may have given the trust its sprig of oak symbol.
Shortly after leaving the car park this morning it was Rosy who led us up into the woods along a permissive footpath, up past the tiny chapel and the Lookout and on towards Cotehele house itself. As we climbed upwards a Woodpecker made Pauline and then the rest of us, scan the trees above as it drummed noisily on one of those trunks pictured, but although it sounded really close, not one of us was able to spot it.
Cotehele House, once home to the Edgcumbe family is famed for being the first property to be accepted by the Treasury in payment of death duties in 1965 and subsequently passed to the National Trust. The charity now owns over 350 heritage properties and the land they sit in, plus industrial monuments, and social history sites. It also owns or protects roughly one fifth of the coastline in Britain along with its surrounding countryside. These days the trust is supported by approximately 70,000 volunteers which even includes several of our walkers and between them they carry out a range of work from helping in their historic houses and gardens, to fund-raising and providing specialist skills.
Everyone continued down the road towards the junction and when Rosy opened a white painted gate directly opposite, we knew as we filed through that the path beyond would carry us down into the valley through Elbow Wood where at its lowest point, the weir would cross the Morden Stream.
Although the clocks went forward last weekend and British Summer Time has officially begun, winter has been very reluctant to shake off its shackles this year, but now at last the weather is slightly less cold and we are seeing many daffodils and primroses as we walk, indeed here in Cotehele’s own car park there were plenty to admire as we passed, just as there were in the hedges bordering the narrow lanes we drove along to reach the site earlier.
When we were approaching the weir this morning we noticed a fallen tree lying right across the water, up close it looked even bigger than it had from the other side with a massive root-ball on one end making it impossible to either climb over it or even to limbo beneath, so after crossing the little bridge we had to do a detour to access the lane.
Further along towards Cotehele Mill, a gate appeared on our right and after we had all passed through it was time to walk up the other side of the valley through Bohetherick Woods. First up a damp, rough track and then on top of leaf-mould followed by a flight of steps as the sunlight filtered through the tree canopy above. Before long however, the leaves would return to the trees and begin to knit together blocking out the light and all those yellow Daffodils, Primroses and Celandines we saw today, will come to an end for another year and different plants will appear more suited to the shadier conditions as the circle of life keeps turning.
A level path followed at the edge of the wood and when this path forked, it was time to head downhill once again. The road at the bottom continued across the bridge and back to the quayside. Today we decided not to visit the lime kilns at the water’s edge due to the mud down there so our lovely walk ended a little earlier than planned.