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New Year Adventures: 10 ideas to get 2024 off to a great start!

With the dawn of a new year a wave of optimism, energy, and enthusiasm washes over us. Even amid the occasional gloomy weather and shorter days. While staying snug indoors is inviting, why not dispel the winter lethargy with a countryside adventure? Whether you relish solitude, are part of a couple, or belong to a family, this article will inspire you to help get 2024 off to a great start. So, sit back and explore our top ten favourite winter activities and things to do in and around the Tamar Valley.

1. The Allure of Fly Fishing at The Arundell Arms

Fly fishing is a captivating pastime. For some, it’s about immersing oneself in the beauty of wild surroundings. For others, the thrill lies in the anticipation of what each new cast might unveil. Tranquil moments stretch into hours, interrupted by bursts of heart-racing excitement. It’s an addictive, challenging, and rewarding pursuit, where no two days are the same. In our opinion, it’s an experience everyone should try at least once.

The Arundell Arms, has two dedicated full-time fishing instructors, David Pilkington (AAPGAI) and Alex Jones. With over 80 years of expertise between them, they’ve guided thousands of men, women, and boys and girls in the art of fishing. Contact the hotel for details of a variety of beginners’ fly-fishing courses, both on the river and still waters. Group tuition is also available, catering to participants ranging from beginners to advanced levels.

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2. Discover Plymouth's Maritime Charm on with a Scenic Harbour Cruise!"

Set sail daily with Plymouth Boat Trips.  Set sail from The Barbican Landing Stage, adjacent to Mayflower Steps and enjoy a picturesque journey across Plymouth Sound, with the enchanting Devon and Cornish coast as your backdrop.

Cruise past Plymouth Hoe, the iconic Drake’s Island, and onward towards the River Tamar where mighty warships and nuclear submarines add a touch of awe.

A family-friendly adventure awaits, though please note that trip availability is subject to passenger numbers and, of course, weather conditions. Especially during the winter months.

3. The Tamara Coast to Coast Way: An 87-Mile Odyssey of Discovery

Introducing the Tamara Coast to Coast Way. Embark on an extraordinary 87-mile adventure of exploration, tracing the majestic River Tamar through the scenic Tamar Valley from the vibrant city of Plymouth to its pristine source at Crosstown close to the north coast near Bude.

Immerse yourself in a captivating seven back-to-back day walking expedition. Or, tackle sections at a time. However you tackle the challenge, the route promises a journey of discovery. Experience diverse terrains, rich history, culture, and heritage as well as the untouched beauty of the valley. Brace yourself for memorable moments as you explore varied landscapes and uncover the unspoiled charm along this remarkable route. Check this website for places to stay nearby too. To explore a great selection catering to all preferences click here

You might like to grab a copy of the official Tamara Coast to Coast Way guidebook to help you plan your adventure too.

4. Rails and Rambles: Embark on Enchanting Escapades That Start With Train Trips

Rural branch lines provide a delightful way to embark on winter adventures and the Tamar Valley line is no exception. Departing from Plymouth Station at one end, or Gunnislake Station at the other, the line stops several times including at Bere Ferrers, Bere Alston, and Calstock along the way. The journey takes around 45-minutes and dogs are welcome too.

Secure a window seat and enjoy the picturesque views of the rolling countryside, quaint villages, and serene river crossings. Top tip: make a point of venturing into Calstock – a tumble of cottages and other buildings clinging to the slopes of the Tamar Valley. The village nestles beneath the breathtaking Calstock viaduct 120 feet above the river and is clearly visible from your carriage window. The village is known for its welcoming pub the Tamar Inn and charming ice cream parlor Valentis.  Yes, even in winter!

5. Journey Through Time: Explore the Enchanting Cotehele Estate

Bundle up nice and warm and set out on a mesmerizing circular expedition through the wooded valleys and scenic farmland of the Cotehele Estate, meticulously cared for by the National Trust.

Bestowed to the National Trust in 1947 as its very first house and estate, Cotehele stands as a radiant jewel in the heart of the Tamar Valley. Built between 1485 and 1560, the house has gracefully preserved its historic charm, untouched by modernisation.  The stewardship of the Edgcumbe family for nearly six centuries has played a significant role in maintaining its authenticity.

This charming walk explores the extensive estate, offering sweeping views of rolling pastures and serene wooded valleys. Be sure to venture along the reinstated cherry avenue at Newton Farm. It’s a nod to the 19th-century allure of the Tamar Valley, renowned for its cherry orchards and strawberry gardens.

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6. Tavistock: A Tapestry of Heritage, Markets, and Unique Charm

Nestled between Dartmoor and the Tamar Valley, Tavistock is nonetheless regarded as part of the Tamar Valley. The town’s history traces back to 961 with the establishment of the now-ruined Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Rumon. In 1105, King Henry I granted the monks a charter to operate a “Pannier Market,” a tradition that has endured to this day. Bedford Square hosts a twice-monthly farmers’ market year-round.

We love Tavistock. It’s a great place to visit any day of the year. However, in winter you’ll find the streets are quieter and it’s easier to embrace the charm of the place without the distraction of crowds of visitors. 

If you like to shop, you’ll find a pleasing selection of independent shops and boutiques. There’s also a great choice of places to stop for something to eat and drink. The Bedford Hotel is a great choice for a traditional cream tea.  

7. Explore Dartmoor: Nature, History, and Timeless Beauty

If you fancy venturing further afield, visiting Dartmoor National Park is like stepping into a natural wonderland.

For wide open spaces, and endless skies, rocky outcrops, and winding rivers it’s a great place for nature lovers and people who enjoy walking. 

Dartmoor’s rugged beauty is complemented by ancient relics like stone circles and hut circles, providing glimpses into the area’s fascinating past. Whether you’re climbing the iconic Cox Tor for a view of the Tamar Valley and distant coastline, or strolling through charming villages, Dartmoor offers a chance to connect with the untamed wilderness. Enjoy open spaces, inhale fresh air, and indulge in a timeless charm that will leave you rejuvenated.


8. "Hotel Endsleigh: A Timeless Retreat in Regency Elegance"

Bag a country break at the Hotel Endsleigh, a romantic Regency-era house built for the 6th Duke and Duchess of Bedford two centuries ago.  The hotel sits on 108 acres of exquisite woodlands and gardens, offering breathtaking views of the Tamar River.

With its stunning panorama and graceful grounds, it’s a lovely place if you’re after a break with timeless serenity and elegance. While there you can enjoy fine dining, light meals, and full Devon afternoon tea cozy indoors beside roaring fires. 

This is what Alan Titchmarsh had to say a few years ago, about his visit: “If ever a hotel were built in paradise, it would be like Endsleigh – a fairytale cottage in an Arcadian landscape with delicious food and blissful rooms. I love it and envy that sublime landscape – the perfect opportunity to step back in time to a graceful age.”  

9. Discover Historic Beauty: Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, is made up of more than 865 acres and stands as Cornwall’s oldest landscaped park.

Made up of expansive open parkland, Grade I listed gardens, and 55 Grade II and II* listed structures, it is a testament to historical grandeur.

What’s more, walkers take note, it includes a section of the South West Coastal Footpath and links effortlessly to the Tamara Coast to Coast Way.

Mount Edgcumbe offers an ideal setting to relish the beauty of southeast Cornwall. The whole family can explore numerous trails designed for all ages and abilities, ensuring a delightful experience for every visitor. Click here for five walks around Mount Edgcumbe and the Rame Peninsula.

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10. Surfs Up!: There's nothing like a bracing beach stroll to blow the cobwebs away.

When you visit or stay in the Tamar Valley, its proximity to the sea offers a choice between two captivating coasts. For those who enjoy leisurely beach strolls, the Rame Peninsula beckons with its expansive sandy beaches at Whitsand Bay, or the charming shingle and sand beaches of Kingsand and Cawsand. Follow the Southwest Coast Path’s Falmouth to Plymouth section for picturesque views of tidal creeks, sandy shores, and rolling fields leading to Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park.

Alternatively, venture northeast to the Atlantic coast, where the stunning beaches of Widemouth Bay and Bude await. At low tide, Widemouth Beach unveils a multitude of rock pools to explore, while Bude’s Summerleaze Beach boasts a wide sandy expanse bordered by steep cliffs. This coastal stretch holds a rich history of smuggling, with its rugged shores, numerous inlets, and caves providing the perfect backdrop for clandestine trade. 

So there we have it, just a few ideas for January to inspire and motivate – we hope! Of course, the Tamar Valley offers plenty more variety, fun, and activities to discover as the days lengthen and warm into spring and beyond. Happy New Year!

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