Last week we were on holiday, with Liz in Yealmpton (a village with a remarkable sequence of consonants in its name) on the river Yealm in west Devon.
Liz had organised a remarkable holiday for us in this attractive part of England. There are many National Trust properties in west Devon and east Cornwall; we visited two (Lanhydrock, near Liskeard, and Saltram, on the outskirts of Plymouth). On Bodmin Moor we saw the stone inscribed by King Doniert, last King of Cornwall, asking for prayers for his soul; the Hurlers (two circles of standing stones, which according to a legend from much later were people turned to stone for playing at hurling on the Sabbath), and the Cheesewring (a rocky tor named after the mashed apples used to make cider).
Dartmoor was not the bleak wilderness I had imagined: a country of rolling hills and river valleys, rich grass and some small cultivated fields, ponies and sheep, villages and towns. We visited the Garden House, the clapper bridge at Postbridge, and the ancient oak wood (a remnant of the pre-human vegetation on the moor) of Wistmanswood. Liz even showed us the house where she was born.
We saw Burgh Island, just off the mainland and connected by a sand causeway which is covered by water at high tide. On the top once stood St Michael’s monastery, a third member of the trinity containing St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall and Mont Saint Michel in Brittany. It is most famous now for the hotel in which an episode of the television series Poirot was filmed.
We visited Totnes, with its ancient Guildhall containing two Australian connections: a monument to William Wills, of Burke and Wills fame, a local boy; and a display about Baron Birdwood, first commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).
We did several walks near Yealmpton, including two short sections of the South West Coast Path (with views of the Great Mew Stone and the Eddystone Light) and country walks including one to Steer Point on the Yealm estuary (like all rivers here it ends in a drowned valley which is now full of yachts).
We met several members of Liz’s family, and ate and drank in the village pub.