Cotehele – a Cornish Gem

Visiting a garden when it is 28C is not really ideal but needs must and all that.  This Friday I drove down to Plymouth to pick my youngest up from University.  He will be home now until September and as he will be in a new house  then everything had to come home.  My poor little Peugeot was full to the gunnels.  Anyway, it is a good 7 hr round trip and having done it once in a day I am in no hurry to do it again so we stay overnight in a Premier Inn which is basic but comfortable.  As he is always keen to get out of the student house I go in the morning and we have a nice afternoon out.  At Easter we went to the Garden House and I had hoped to visit WildSide this time but it was closed so the good old National Trust came to the rescue and we went to Cotehele Manor.

The journey was interesting up and down tiny Cornish lanes wondering if anything was coming the other way but it was worth the effort.  A quick picnic lunch and we went off to explore the grounds and to find some shade.  Sadly the Tudor house was shut on Friday (in fact it is amazing how many tourist attractions are shut on a Friday in Devon and Cornwall!) but the grounds were more than enough for us.  The house, like so many grand houses in the area, sits at the top of a valley this one leads down to the River Tamar.  You can just see a viaduct in the distance if you peer.

Whilst the formal terrace gardens looked very nice and were performing well despite the heat we really needed some shade so we headed down to the Valley Garden.

To be honest I think if there had been somewhere to sit in the tunnel down to the Valley Garden I could quite happily have sat there for the afternoon admiring the view glimpsed below.

The main features of the Valley Garden are the medieval stewpond and the dovecote.  The stewpond, I believe, was use to keep the fish for dinner in so I wonder if the dovecote was used for doves to eat?  Unlike Heligan, Cotehele doesn’t have lots of statuesque tree ferns.  The planting in the Valley Garden is very much rhododendrons, azaleas and other similar plants.

There is what appears to be a natural stream running down the Valley Garden and I suspect this was dammed in the past to create the stewpond.  We came across the stream further down though became aware of it well in advance due to the smell.  I suppose given the heat and also the low water tables at the moment it is hardly surprising that the water isn’t running that freely.  However, the gunnera were looking very healthy and I am sure that with the rain they had the following day everything will now be smelling fresher!

We managed to make our way up and down the Valley Garden and it was surprising how many people on such a warm afternoon were as mad as us.  We then made our way to the Upper Garden and lay on the grass for quite some time in the shade you can see in the photo above.  It was lovely, peaceful, with the birds singing, a breeze stirring branches overhead.  We had fun putting the world to rights but in the end decided that there must be a Cornish Cream Tea in the offing somewhere so finished our tour of the Upper Garden.  We gave the orchards a miss as they looked rather warm so we missed out on the living sculptures mentioned on the National Trust website but there is always another day.

We had a very nice afternoon in an extremely well maintained garden.  The gardens are interesting since there is a range of styles from the formal terrace garden, through the relaxed and shady upper garden to the lush and intriguing Valley Garden.  I suspect we will be visiting again at some point over the next two year – and the cream tea was delicious!

14 Comments on “Cotehele – a Cornish Gem

  1. I’m so glad you got there! It is lovely and I enjoyed revisiting it through your photos. Lots of nice walking around there too a very pretty area.

    Goodness – it only seems like a few weeks ago you were taking your son down to Plymouth for the first time!!

  2. What a wonderful blog entry and so glad you had a nice visit. Yes, as you guessed, the 16th century dovecote housed doves for the table back then. Nowadays any doves that find their way in are free to come and go as they like. We’ll look for your little Peugeot in our crazy lanes again soon. All the best, Tish Valva of Cotehele

  3. We had a holiday on the estate a few years ago, it’s a lovely place and we timed it so we could visit the daffodil festival they hold each year.

  4. A lovely spot for an outing. Himself and I enjoyed a holiday near Tavistock a few years ago. Cothele was one of the places we got to. Buckland Abbey, home of Sir Francis Drake is worth a visit too Helen when you are in that neck of the woods – about half an hours drive from Cothele. Uni students seem to break up earlier and earlier or is it my imagination 🙂 We will be picking up and minding stuff for our niece who is at Manchester and soon off to her home in Singapore for the summer.

  5. It looks very pretty, sitting in my air conditioned room. But add heat, and I can understand why you would rather lay in the shade! You’re right – it seems to have something for everyone’s taste here. And a spot to keep the fish until dinner, and the doves, too, sounds like an ingenious solution! Enjoy your son while he’s home for summer.

  6. I so love these tours of grand homes and gardens. Your images go really well with the story of the visit. Like Holley, I was thinking the same thing. It is like going to the market for fresh food. What a great idea to have the pond and dovecote.

  7. Yvonne – NZ – How lovely – Cornwall is on my ‘wish list’ – some of my ancestors came from there! How nice to have 28degrees – In summer this year we didn’t have many of those temperatures. Lovely swimming weather!

  8. It looks lovely, Helen. And how wonderful to have the time to sit in the shade and gaze up through the canopy of the trees while you set the world to rights.

  9. Thanks for the preview Helen, it’s one of the Cornish gardens we haven’t been too and looks like its definitely worth a visit!

  10. Cotehele’s one of my favourite gardens (which will eventually feature in the desert island gardens strand on my blog, when I finally have time for blogging properly again!) – I’m glad you liked it too. I love the view from the dovecot. Next time you go, the quay is also well worth a visit, and the house is fascinating if you’re there on a day when it’s open.

  11. It looks very attractive. I like the idea of sitting in the shade at intervals – the best way to view a garden in those temperatures!

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