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There are nice views up and down the river from the bridge. From hence, if you wish to make for Dartmoor by the shortest route, another four miles will bring you to Tavistock; better, however, to follow the stream, and see what lies along its banks. Having crossed the bridge, turn up the road to the right, and presently a gate gives you access to the woods, where a rill leaps along its channel among the big stones, making pleasant music. It sounds none the less sweetly should you be tempted to use it, as I was, for a foot-bath. You may wander about here for a while, and look at the great water-wheel; then take the road again to the top of the hill, where, opposite a row of "postles," the native term for posts, you find another gate, and within it, running to the right, the path to Morwell Rocks.
Here all was delightful under the green shade; the trees so near together as to form a narrow-arched alley, springing from a thick undergrowth of shrubs and flowering plants. Just the place for a saunter. path flecked with sunlight, and hung with glinting leaves; green, and gleamy vistas before and behind. Breaks occur in places, where the sun beats full upon you while you stop to look over the surrounding country. Now the path descends to a secluded hollow, traversed by a sparkling stream; now it rises again through thicker woods; and soon you see a narrow gap on the right, where the small stems show marks of having been frequently pushed aside. Step through. You are on the summit of one of the rocks, a perpendicular crag, some two hundred feet above the stream, and in full view of a grand bit of river scenery. Here Tamar winds in sudden curves, lingering by the way, now swerving deeply into Cornwall, now into Devon,
reluctant to leave so lovely a valley; and though it disappears at last at the end of a long reach, you will find it sweeping back again beyond the opposite hill. Young woods hang on the hill-slopes; and far as eye can reach, every swell, and ridge, and hollow is covered with dense masses of foliage, unbroken save where the crags rise as massive buttresses to the heights in the rear. You see
the whole range: Chimney Rock, Turret Rock, Morwell Rock, and the others, their bold forms the more beautiful by contrast of the gray tints with the creeping ivy and drooping ferns, and the abounding greenness.
Going on from one rock to the other varies the prospect; each commands something unseen before, and detains you longer than the last. You will hardly wish to break the charm, for such points of outlook are rare in your wayfaring. There is Calstock church on the top of a peninsula; there Hingston Down; there, at the foot of the receding hills opposite, a numerous colony of whitewashed cottages; there a canal traverses the level; there heaps of mining refuse encroach on the pastures; there is the Weir; and, wherever you look, the shining curves of the river.
As you go on again, the sight of a pumping-rod crossing the path is felt as a surprise in such a solitude; whence it comes and whither it goes, alike invisible. Near by is another large water-wheel; and a little canal comes flowing swiftly out of the wood to feed it. Then, as the path descends, the roofs of a village and the masts of a few small vessels are seen among the trees, and presently you come to Morwellham.
This village serves as the port to the mining country around Tavistock, with which it is connected by a canal four miles long, carried across lofty viaducts, and through
the hill by a tunnel, terminating here at a considerable height above the river. An inclined railway leads from the end of the canal down to the wharf, where you may see thousands of pounds' worth of ore piled in heaps ready for purchasers.
The little port so far away from the sea has the enjoyment of beautiful scenery as well as the advantages of commerce. A walk of ten minutes in almost any direction will carry you into a complete woodland solitude, out of sight of habitations and the appliances of trade. While crossing at the ferry, I chanced to remark that the magnificent slope of wood a little lower down was spoiled by a patch having been laid bare for the commencement of a mine. "Spoiled!" said one of the other passengers; "you may think it's spoiled, but I don't. There's copper in that hill, man; and that's worth all the trees any day."
You step from the boat right into the margin of a wood, and ascend the hill by narrow paths winding among the rugged roots. Then cross the grounds of Harewood, and about another mile, varied by patches of meadow, gardens, and cherry orchards, will bring you to Calstock. This town is built irregularly on the steep bank with a road between it and the river, along which are the landing-places for the steamers; Calstock being a place of great resort for holiday-folk from Plymouth—their Hampton Court. I left my knapsack at the Naval and Commercial Inn, and walked on at once to Cothele-a domain surrounded by those rich baronial woods which you see stretching along the curve of the stream about half a mile lower down. A path skirts the shore to the pleasant hollow of Danescombe, crosses the creek, and rises up the hill, deeply shadowed by the
ancient trees. By-paths run off in various directions into the mazy underwood and under scars of rock, where clustering ferns betray the presence of trickling threads of water. When near the top, you see chimneys of the olden time, one mantled with ivy, peering above the wall of the kitchen-garden on your right; then the ridge of the roof and a few embrasures; and anon, emerging on a grassy level, Cothele House, a mansion erected in the reign of Henry VII. Both within and without it retains very much of its original character, and is in consequence an interesting specimen of the architecture and furnishing of a feudal residence. It is built chiefly of granite, with embattled towers, a porter's lodge, an arched entrance leading to an inner court, where the turf is as green and smooth as in the quadrangle of a college, and to the great hall, which has windows of stained glass, emblazoned with the arms of the Edgcumbe family, and suits of armour and antiquated weapons, and horns and skulls of animals hanging on the walls. The steward will conduct you from room to room and show you the tapestries, the altar-cloth, the richly-carved bedsteads with their formal hangings, the curious chairs, the fire-dogs on the hearths, the cabinets, drinking vessels, wonderful old china and snuffers, and other quaint memorials of the Plantagenet days. You will see the chapel; and the room where Charles II. slept, and that in which George III. and Queen Charlotte, with three of the princesses, took breakfast, when they were the guests of the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. It is a place of strange ups and downs; little unexpected stairs; doors where you would not think of looking for them, and tiny windows with thick mullions. Taken in connexion with the adjoining wing, now tenanted by
the farm servants, it assumes the character of one of those sturdy, defensive manor-houses built when castles were going out of fashion.
Having loitered around the building till I had noted its weather-beaten features, and the ferns growing from the crevices in the walls, I walked through the woods to Cothele landing, a village of limekilns and some half-dozen houses, on the entrance of a creek. Go to the bridge and look at the mill and up the valley along the green vista formed by the swelling woods on either hand, and the sedgy level of the water.
Back into the woods again. Some of the chestnuttrees are of prodigious girth, rivalling those in Greenwich Park, and under these the scorching glare was exchanged for refreshing coolness. About half-way between the mansion and the limekilns a small religious edifice stands on the top of a rock that rises precipitously from the river. It has a history. According to Carew, "Sir Richard Edgcumbe the elder was driven to hide himself in these his thick woods, which overlook the river, what time being suspected of favouring the Earl of Richmond's party against King Richard the Third, he was hotly pursued, and narrowly searched for. Which extremity taught him a sudden policy, to put a stone in his cap, and tumble the same into the water, while these rangers were fast at his heels, who, looking down after the noise, and seeing his cap swimming thereon, supposed that he had desperately drowned himself, gave over their further hunting, and left him liberty to shift away, and ship over into Brittany. For a grateful remembrance of which delivery he afterwards builded in the place of his lurking a chapel, not yet utterly decayed."