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Villages of South England - Part 5

We left Corfe Castle. From the bus we saw a figure on horseback carved in chalk on hillside. Roy said it was perhaps 300 years old. We stopped at a seaside town whose name escapes me. For us, the memorable event of the stop was buying ice cream to eat on the beach and having a seagull swoop in and take a bite. Then it came back and took the whole thing. I pity the people down the line who had ice cream dripped on them and thought it was something else.
Back on the bus and drove to Chagford. The bus parked at the bottom of the hill and we dragged luggage up 3 blocks to the Three Crowns hotel. It was a steep walk and this was one of those times when they meant it when they said the trip was rated strenuous. It was a quaint little town with a tiny grocery store convenient to the hotel. The most amazing store, though, was a hardware store that turned out to be a backpacker’s dream. They had everything—including compeed and other foot salves. Because the town is on the edge of the moors, a lot of people come to walk across the moors and this place had all the supplies.
Day 8: We had breakfast on a nice little patio at the back of the hotel. The food was buffet style with fresh fruit and really good bread. Chagford is near Dartmoor National Park. Our first stop was a 14th century stone bridge called a clapper bridge. We walked along the stream, took pictures of flowers and had our picture taken on the bridge. We also bought a post card and stamp from a little store across from the bridge and mailed it back to the states. Then we drove higher up to a plateau at the top of the moors where we saw standing rocks arranged by prehistoric ancestors and some of their house sites. We also had a good breeze, which was nice because the day was hot. We saw wild ponies. They seemed placid enough but Roy warned us not to get too close.
Then we were on the bus again to go to an isolated restaurant (Warren Inn) in the middle of what had once been a tin mining town. We enjoyed a ploughman’s lunch of cheese, French bread and fresh salad. The meal included a pickled onion. I’d never had one before and don’t love onions but this was really tasty.
After we returned to Chagford, we did more laundry and tried to figure out how to dry it before deciding to forget the laundry and go for a walk to see the countryside. We went out a back entrance and were almost immediately lost. We decided we had better stay close so we stopped at a nearby cemetery and toured it.

Day 9: Had breakfast and got ready to go just before the rain began. We walked in the rain the three blocks down to where the bus was parked. I came to the realization that going downhill is easier than going uphill. As we drove into Cornwall, the rain became heavier. Magically, it slowed to a gentle mist by the time we arrived at our first stop, an old Victorian house and gardens called Lanhydrock. I was delighted we were going to see the house because I thought this tour was only for the gardens. The house itself came with a sad story of a son killed in WWI and another who killed himself. The rooms were gorgeous and very Victorian with heavy oak furniture. We were warned not to touch the arrangement on the dining room table. Later, when someone did accidentally touch it, an alarm sounded. Someone else said that when a table setting was wrong on a television show (Upstairs, Downstairs—I think) and numerous viewers complained, the set designers were sent to Lanhydrock to see how to get it right. An earlier house burned to the ground in 1881. This one had its own small fire department.
After we saw the house, we had a great lunch in their restaurant. They had a small take-away shop that sold sandwiches but we were served almost as quickly as we could have stood in line to buy sandwiches. We had potatoes in a jacket with cheddar cheese, which was a baked potato with shredded cheddar cheese on the side. Interesting but delicious.

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