Such a beautiful sunny morning at Land’s End. The seas and winds were calm as we prepared for the day. We met up with Liz and Mike at breakfast and they agreed to let us interview them for the episode. Between babies crying, mic issues and the fire alarm going off we did manage to film them telling us about Cornish Yarg, driving in Cornwall and the US as well as sharing a few laughs. They were wonderfully patient and excellent sports about it! I can’t wait to have them visit us in the States! Liz and Mike considered yourselves invited for a visit!

We finished up some last minute b-roll just as the first tour buses were rolling into Land”s End. Time to roll! Our first stop of the day was Okehampton Castle in Devon. This castle was first built during the Norman conquest as a fortress to help squelch any rebellions as well as a way to control the gateway to Cornwall. About 100 years later the Courtenay family gained control of this Motte and Bailey fortress and proceeded to construct a new castle that served as their hunting lodge. The remains of the great hall, kitchens, chapel and guest rooms complete with guardrobes are all amazingly preserved. Sadly, Oakhampton fell into ruin when the Courtenay family lost favor with good old King Henry VIII. This small castle run by English Heritage takes about one hour to enjoy and is totally worth it. The site manager at Okehampton gladly gave us a few places to stop along our drive through Dartmoor but also warned us that they would not be marked and we would have to just look for them, and explained that many of the roads are merely “lanes.” Sounds like an adventure!

The landscapes changed so quickly once we entered the area…from thick forests to wide open fields, and these sort of mountains with no trees, but big rock formations on top called “tors.” There are neolithic standing stones all over in the area, but it was so rocky that we could not decipher what was just rocks, and what was man-placed! There are also hikes to some of the circles, etc, but we did not feel like getting lost in the moors. We did stop and walk in some of the fields, where sheep and wild horses and ponies were grazing. The ponies let us get very close, but neither of us was brave enough to pet them. The sheep were hidden down in this thick fern-like field. Every once in awhile one would pop its head up as if to say hello.

We continued our trek further and crossed a cattle grid, and now the sheep and horses were free to roam…on the road if they wished, as many sheep did! We traveled the black B roads, which are some of the “best” ones in the moors. Yet in many places they are so narrow and steep, with large tractors and lorries and buses passing. We screamed more than once.

On our way out of Dartmoor National Park we stopped at two very cool places. The first one was the only “clapper” bridge left in the country at Porthbridge. A clapper bridge is a stone walkway over a river or stream. It has giant stone slabs balanced on top of huge rocks piled up in the river bed. It really does look like a bridge even though it has two sections missing. I decided that I should certainly walk over it so I handed Heather the camera and picked my way across the stones to the large slab part of the bridge. It was amazing ! I cannot understand how the buildings moved the rocks and heavy stone slab without huge machines. What amazing ingenuity!

As we exited Dartmoor we turned a corner to see the most amazing church of grey and red stone. The sun was shining on it in such a way that gave it the look of gold. Heather and I decided that we had to stop and see what it was and at the very least take a few pictures. We discovered that this church is part of Buckfast Abby, which was founded in 1018, destroyed by good old Henry VIII, then rebuilt by French Benedictine Monks in the late 1800s. We heard music so we poked our head in to briefly listen to the evening prayers that were going on. We walked through the complex, admired their lavender gardens and lamented over the ruins of the original abbey that was dismantled by Henry. This was one of those off the beaten path stops that will stay with us.

We continued on to a small town near Brixham called Churston Ferrers, and the Churston Court Inn. This building dates from the 11th century and is mentioned in the Domesday Book issued by William the Conqueror! When you enter you truly get the feel that you have been transported back to Medieval times. Thick wooden beams and furnishings, pictures of monarchs from the centuries, giant stone fireplaces, and crooked hallways and walls. Thick curtains hang on Medieval windows, and candles lit on candelabras. I felt like I was a queen in a manor house!!! Our room has a huge four post bed and some antique chairs and furnishings, as well as stone walls (painted red) several inches thick, and an arched doorway. The bathroom is quite updated with a clawfoot tub and a modern shower. Glad the bathroom does not look authentically Medieval!!!

Dinner in the dining room was surreal. The surroundings are like a movie set. Not formal and pretentious, but warm and authentic, like you are really having dinner in the hall of a manor house. Our dinners were some of the best we’ve had. Courtney opted for the “posh” fish and chips, and I opted for a peppercorn steak. Divine.

The downside of the authenticity of the inn is that wi-fi signals do not travel though thick Medieval stone walls! So we are sitting here typing this blog in the 900-year-old Medieval pub amongst locals, guests, and even a wedding party. Travel is a magical thing indeed.

Enjoying feeling like we’ve traveled back in time-

Courtney and Heather