Monday, 2 June 2008

Cotehele Quay and Morwellham events

We have a quite amazing but relatively little known heritage here in the Tamar Valley. Some money is now coming in to encourage people to see and understand what the area is all about and this weekend I was invited to events at two local venues. On Friday evening I went to Cotehele Quay for a preview of the extensively revamped little museum there which now is 'The Cotehele Discovery Centre' no less. Whilst Cotehele House can fairly be described as "the jewel in the crown" so far as the larger estate is concerned the area of Cotehele Quay has a particular resonance for me. The museum has been there for some years now relating the story of that bit of the Tamar and the industries that are round about. But it was in serious need of updating and I have to say that the National Trust have done a sensitive and high quality job with it. I found myself involved with a focus group during the time the redesign was taking place and thanks to much hard work by Rachel, the coordinator, in particular it has all come together for the opening to the public over the weekend.

That was Friday. On Saturday morning I joined a number of others in testing out one of a series of trails that the Tamar Valley AONB are putting in place to make the local area more accessible to walkers, cyclists and horse riders. This one was mainly in woodland and everybody seemed to agree that the way marking was quite confusing. A certain number of changes will take place before officially opening to the public. Then it was on to Morwellham on the Devon bank of the Tamar for the reopening of the restored Great Dock there. A number of civic dignitaries attended to make their speeches but unfortunately just as they started we had a heavy shower. Prior to the official bits 'The Rubber Band' were able to squeeze in a couple of pieces but then had to hurriedly cover their instruments as the rain came down. After lunch the band were able to play under cover and for much longer in another part of this large site and it was fascinating to watch some of the visitors there toe tapping to the lively music, I don't think they could quite believe their luck having the chance to listen to a live band all for free! The weather wasn't bad after that shower at one o'clock but why did the rain have to choose just the moment it did to drench everyone?

Time was when you had to pay a fairly substantial entry fee to visit Morwellham which was quite off putting for families. Now it is open access although quite reasonably you have to pay for some of the activities available and I believe a car park charge of about £2 is on its way. There is a new version of their website here. To intending visitors I would suggest putting aside most of a day to see Morwellham properly particularly if you are going to walk the nature trail as well; it is a very special place.

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