Sunday, 4 February 2007

By train and ferry to Mount Edgcumbe

Mount Edgcumbe situated in Cornwall's Rame Peninsula where the River Tamar empties itself into the English Channel has been described as England's most beautiful country park. I wouldn't argue about that description! The weather on Saturday was very pleasing, yes a little cold but dry and for the most part sunny. We took the 07.42 train into Plymouth (I can get up early when the motivation is good!) and when paying for our 'day return ticket' had our first pleasant surprise. I had expected it would cost £4 per ticket, however First Great Western have a promotion on for Saturday and Sunday trains through January and February on our branch line, possibly other local lines as well I don't know. So we were delighted to pay just £1.50 each! It's good to know this company are trying hard, it's not always bad news on the railways.

A gentle stroll from Plymouth Station took us down Armada Way before ascending to The Hoe and that always memorable view of The Sound. We then worked our way around the back of Millbay Docks, seeing the first signs of Plymouth's next big development in the Millbay hinterland, and on to Stonehouse for the ferry to Cremyll. I have to admit to date that my longest ferry journey has been from Southampton to the Isle of Wight but, having said that there is something special about arriving at your destination by boat. Our aim was to walk through the park to the quaint villages of Kingsand and Cawsand whilst being wary of the time as it was our intention to get the 3 o'clock ferry back. The ferry fare incidentally is £1.30 per single journey.

Mount Edgcumbe is a place for all seasons but there are particular reasons for choosing February. My companion has a mimosa tree in her garden and there is another good example just around the corner. These are approaching their best with their cascades of yellow flowers. But in Mount Edgcumbe there is one of the best examples you could wish to see and visiting in February it is always a joy to behold. Except this time it wasn't. Well of course it had its lovely feathery leaves but the flowers were virtually over. This took us by surprise - yes it's always ahead of 'our' mimosas (they usually flower for about 6 weeks) but this was the first time we had made a February visit after it had flowered.

There are other things to look for in February on this walk: Mount Edgcumbe is the home of the National Camellia Collection and a number of these were in flower with lots more to come. We both have a particular regard for the 'Cornish Snow' variety which was in bloom. In March they hold special Camellia Days. There is more about the gardens
here We were a little early to see the thousands of daffodils the park is also famed for. To elaborate: there is a broad sward of grass sweeping downhill from Mount Edgcumbe house to Cremyll. Either side of this are mature trees underplanted with the daffodils. There were a few out on Saturday but when they are all in bloom the sight is breathtaking.

I mentioned trees, they are another memorable feature of the park. Amongst many others there are some superb lime trees and some good examples of the fairly rare Stones Pine. But it is the appearance of the mature deciduous trees without their leaves and therefore showing their contorted branches going this way and that against the background of a wide sky that really impressed. The mix of rocky shore, delightful woodland, open parkland above the trees and the two little villages looking out on their bay is a wonderful mix. And Plymouth residents have it all on their doorstep for the price of a ferry fare!

We eventually arrived home just before 6 o'clock having had a very enjoyable 'walk in the park'

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