I offered to lead our group this morning with the help of Rosy as I am familiar with all the paths at Calstock and Danescombe and although this was described as a ‘new walk’ it was mostly just a new configuration of well-trodden paths. The programme said we would make our way along Higher Kelly but it didn’t stipulate how to get there from
the car park, so off we went heading out of a metal gate and up through the heritage centre of Calstock, up The Adit then Providence Place and finally, Baptist Street passing The Boot Inn, the Baptist chapel and the 19th century school along the way. This entire area was built at a time when the church was at the heart of the community and the names of two of these narrow roads reflect that fact.

Emerging into Sand Lane everyone knew that one end of Higher Kelly could be found on the left almost opposite Calstock station and the plan was to walk its entire length passing amongst other landmarks, the former home of James Goss the renowned boat builder. Jim as he was known retired to this part of Calstock with his wife Nell and no doubt he would sit in their garden facing the river and watching steam trains crossing the viaduct and glimpse the boat yard through the arches never guessing that one day the railway would bring about its downfall.

As expected after yesterday’s downpours, the footpath was extremely muddy at the far end of Higher Kelly and those at the front disturbed some midges as they made their way through the sludge. When a wide bridge appeared up ahead and we peered over the side we could see the former track bed of the old incline railway and a flight of rotting steps then carried us down to reach it. The men went first down the steps, no doubt to lend a helping hand to any
damsels in distress and soften their fall if need be! At the bottom two narrower bridges had to be crossed before we stopped for an early break near Robyn’s grave. A short, sharp shower arrived just as we got our flasks out and raincoats were hastily donned before we could enjoy our drinks.

Our route then continued beneath the second of those three bridges and up a long, wide path that is always lined with Daffodils and celandines at this time of year. Spring 2018 stirred reluctantly at first and then as temperatures rose, it raced to catch up with lost time, Daffodils are now popping up all over the Tamar Valley and brightening up the dullest of days. In fact we saw so many of these yellow and white trumpeted flowers today all bobbing and swaying in the breeze, the walk could have been re-named ‘The Daffodil Walk’.

At the very top of this path we all emerged into a lane and turned left to walk down the hill to reach the top of the Danescombe Valley but we could hear the water rushing along the stream long before we even saw the footpath sign pointing left. It felt so relaxing just tip-toeing along over the wet, rocky ground in this shady, damp environment with the fast flowing water edged with mossy tree trunks over to our right. Gravity carried the stream downwards and as the flow gained momentum and the surface of the path we were walking on smoothed out somewhat, we were free to look around. Sometimes the stream of water heading towards the River Tamar is quite narrow while at other times it has become much wider as the banks become eroded during its journey. Many small trunks had become dislodged and branches crossed the water at all angles.

As the programme didn’t specify exactly where we would reach Lower Kelly, I thought it would make a pleasant change rather than continuing down past the converted mine buildings, to take the left fork instead and follow this as even more Daffodils could be seen on both sides of this path. Finally everyone emerged into Lower Kelly near the old Danescombe Hotel to walk the last stretch with six of us then calling into Calstock Boatyard for a welcome cuppa and a slice of cake at the Honesty Box café.

Local Area Walks – DANESCOMBE VALLEY via the KELLYS – by Jean Croft