2001 Swiss Cottage and Wolveton Gatehouse

Friday 29th June

We set off to spend my birthday at Swiss Cottage in Milton Abbot, Devon, a lovely Landmark.

We drove to Weston Super Mare, stopping for lunch, followed by a walk along the front.

We explored the Helicopter museum nearby, it is the largest in the world apparently, with 58 old helicopters dating back to the first one ever built in 1936. Andrew really enjoyed it, I did too, but found it a sad place a graveyard of lovely old helicopters, which will never fly in the sun again.

We arrived at Swiss Cottage at 7pm. It is utterly beautiful and the view is breathtaking, one of the most spectacular we have ever seen. The River Tamar and the whole valley set out below us.

It looks just like a rainforest from up here. The strange mists and the sun are changing the scenery by the minute and Andrew’s camera is working overtime, we love this place already.

The chalet is made of wood and is on three floors. The ground floor has the kitchen and spare bedroom. There is a stone wall surrounding the outside of the chalet which is very handy to sit out on and look at the view. The middle floor, is the living room and has a balcony right the way around it.

The bedroom and bathroom are on the top floor, the roof is so low up here that even I managed to bump my head on the beams.

There are strange noises up here, Andrew identified them as the squirrels scampering up and down the walls and on the roof - brilliant, I love squirrels. I think we will spend most of our time up here. We ate dinner outside sitting on the wall, a nice bottle of wine accompanied it. Afterwards we just watched the view changing till the sun set.

Saturday 30th June

We were up fairly early & had coffee & toast watching the scenery again.

Later we drove into Liskeard for lunch at the White Hart, we were served lunch up in the terraced garden. It is a pretty patio garden, a real little sun trap.

After a walk around Liskeard we caught the train to Looe, the Banjo Pier area is very nice with lovely silver sand and the sea.

We went for a paddle, then had a walk around the shops by the harbour, then caught the train back to the car and drove to Tavistock, where we stopped for dinner at Christopher’s restaurant. This place is worth trying if you are in the area, lovely food, my steak was perfect, and the wine was pretty good too.

By 9pm we were perched on our hilltop again and spent the rest of the evening just watching the scenery changing.

Sunday 1st July

After a bacon sandwich 7 coffee we set off to visit the Monkey Sanctuary at No Man’s Land, it’s a lovely drive down there from Tavistock. These are Woolly monkeys and are becoming quite rare. We walked around the large caged area for quite a while, they are extending it at present. The keeper was feeding them a mixture of fresh vegetables including peas and sweetcorn, we watched the monkeys for ages, they are lovely and so comical. I chatted to the keepers who live in a commune there, so that they are with the monkeys full time.

We went for a walk around the woods and gardens, you can almost get to the sea, but the path suddenly becomes too steep. We took photo’s of some of the lovely flowers. They keep a large herb garden here and apparently do use them for medicinal purposes for monkeys and humans.

Back at the top we went into the tourist shop and bought a Monkey Sanctuary T shirt, then we sat watching the sea and drinking coffee at the café.

We noticed that one of the keepers was spreading something on leaves for the monkeys, I asked what it was and he replied “apple and pear conserve, a Sunday treat, as the monkeys all love it!” We went back for a bit longer to watch the monkeys enjoy their jam on trees.

We drove down to Portwrinkle and had cream tea in the garden of the hotel with a lovely view of the sea. We were the only people there it was very quiet and relaxing. Afterwards we took a stroll along the front.

Arrived back at Swiss Cottage about 5.20pm, we ate Cornish pasties for dinner, and relaxed with some wine and the view. At about 9pm a herd of deer with their young waded across the river below us and stopped for a drink, it was a beautiful sight.

The Pictures

Monday 2nd July

Woke up late this morning so had to dash about a bit as we leave by 11am. We are sad to leave this place as it is up there with the Gothic Temple as a favourite Landmark house with the views, the peace and tranquility.

We are going to Wolveton Gate House near Dorchester for a few days next and Carole, Peter & Nick will join us there till Friday.

We have decided to go via Lydford Gorge as a lot of people have written in the logbook about it. There is a 3-mile walk that takes you all round the gorge and past all the waterfalls, which are stunning. Well worth the walk, which is very steep, and extremely narrow and frightening if you don’t like heights like me!

The Devil’s Cauldron is amazing and has steep slippery very narrow steps, but is worth the journey as it is spectacular when you reach it. We had a late lunch there in the cafe, then drove on to Dorchester and our second Landmark this week.

This is a wonderful house too, large airy rooms and apparently the ghost of a catholic monk called Cornelius who haunts Andrew and I’s bathroom. We all arrived within an hour of each other and having settled in, we went to find dinner.

A lovely little restaurant in Dorchester at 6 North Row provided us with lovely food and Old Thumper beer etc. We sat outside to eat as it’s a lovely evening then back to the house for some music and a chat.

Tuesday 3rd July

We mooched about at the house all morning whilst Andrew dozed. At lunchtime we set off for Lyme Regis; a pretty little seaside town. We had lunch in a pub in the main street. Carole and I bought a skirt each in a little shop nearby. We went down to the seafront where we sat, walked, paddled etc. for a couple of hours. The beach is very pretty with lovely golden sand and the sun has got her hat on. It’s definitely the hottest day so far this year. I almost got arrested for feeding the seagulls - apparently there is a local by law forbidding people to do that here. We had a lovely cream tea in the fudge shop then a short stroll by the river watching the ducks.

We headed off to West Bay near Bridport for a walk on the extremely painful shingle and a paddle. The outcrop of rocks here is lovely. We sat watching mad people leaping off the harbour into the sea. Nick encouraged them in this whilst taking photo’s of them. Eventually they asked him if he was a reporter.

We returned to Dorchester and found the Sala Thai restaurant, another excellent meal which we all thoroughly enjoyed, the waitress’s were all laughing and friendly, so the atmosphere was good.

Back to the gatehouse for some wine and a good evening just chatting.

Wednesday 4th July

We are all tired today: we had the loudest and most terrific thunderstorm we’ve ever known, amazing sheet & forked lightning and rumbles that shook the house and turned the electricity off. It started at 1am and continued till after 9am, going further away then returning to over our heads again. This morning there are rust droppings from the windows on all the ledges. I wonder if Cornelius has taken a dislike to us? We sat around till 10am then decided it was time to whinge, as we needed coffee & hot water for a shower etc. John (the house factotum) came to our rescue and reset the trip switches.

We then fortified ourselves with mushroom omelette and bacon and then drove off to explore Lulworth, which has a castle, a beach, a cove and a deserted village. The castle was rigged up for tourists and the deserted village was being used for army manoeuvres with ”no access“ and ”beware of gunfire” notices everywhere, so we settled for the cove & beach where we bumped into a family who also live in Yardley Gobion. This is also a very pretty area with no tourists and some lovely rock formations with natural “doors” leading out to sea.

Carole, Peter and Nick went off to explore the Durdle Door, a cliff arch a mile away from Lulworth. They climbed a path over Dungy Head towards it, but were apparently then shrouded in mist, they gave up when some school kids told them that they wouldn’t see a thing at the top and joined us at the cove for tea and cake.

We meandered awhile there, then adjourned to Tesco so that I could prepare Steak & Guinness pie for tonight’s supper.

We all relaxed having had an evening stroll, still too full and drinking excellent plum brandy procured at a little wine shop in Lulworth.

Thursday 5th July

The morning was spent touring Wolveton House as we’d arranged. It still needs a lot of repair work, as the housekeeper says “It’s been let to go to rack and ruin” but the present owners are gradually sorting it out and the plasterwork on the ceilings and the incredibly ornate oak panelling, beams and fire and door surrounds are well worth seeing, as is the magnificent staircase. It is a majestic old house, and will be quite wonderful again in time. There is an old cider house in the grounds dating back at least 150 years and still in use, unfortunately (or maybe not!) there is none for sale just now as it is the wrong time of year. We finished our tour with the chapel, which has unusually carved ancient signs of the zodiac to decorate it.

We then drove to Weymouth for lunch at Bennett’s fish and chip shop, one of the best ten in Britain according to something or other that Andrew has read – certainly very good.

We wandered around the old harbour area, around the shops and, of course, the seafront. The harbour is a busy area, loads of fishing trawlers full of crabs and fish.

The sun had disappeared since the storm, and we were left with a very drizzly sort of day.

We retired defeated by the weather to Wolveton, but ventured out again at 8ish to find dinner. The Mock Turtle (recommended by previous Landmarkers) proved a worthwhile choice. Lovely dinner, wine, champagne and delicious puddings. We have retired to quietly enjoy our last evening here.

We have all enjoyed this break tremendously and could quite happily stay a few more days.

The Pictures