Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell want to travel the world with a difference. We hope to get a taste of many countries without adding to climate change (with needless emissions from aeroplanes) or having to waste hours of holiday time in airport terminals. We hope our adventures inspire you to take a Grand Tour of your neighbourhood whatever the weather. This post is from Nicola
Canoe Tamar http://www.canoetamar.co.uk/ offers guided river trips from Cotehele to Morwellham Quay, with a quarter of an hour stop off under the Calstock Viaduct in Cornwall. As it wasn’t far from here and I’ve been itching to get back into a canoe we spent the morning exploring the river. The River Tamar is spectacular in this area curving along what appears to be a lush bowl shaped and peaceful wooded valley that 150 years ago was home to the biggest copper producing mine in Queen Victoria’s empire – and the seam had been worked for centuries earlier than that. We are more than 20 miles from the sea but the river is still navigable and has been used as a pack horse, and linked with canals, which helped gets goods in and out easily.
There were about 18 other canoes with us, but as I turned out to be much the slowest paddler (Lola and Nell joined in occasionally but they preferred to sit and eat sweets in our big Canadian-style canoe) we were invariably at the back of the party so had the river to ourselves apart from an extremely friendly guide – sometimes Sue and sometimes Jo. This meant we had the lightning struck chimney and a sizzled oak pointed out on the Devon side of the Tamar; learnt about the lost village of Newquay that archaeologists only recently rediscovered and are now digging around in and heard the haunting whistle of the miners’ train going into the shaft of the George & Charlotte copper mine. It wasn’t a ghost express because they now run hourly trips for tourists visiting the World Heritage Site.
The river is strongly tidal so our group used this to go up river. Even so whenever the wind blew a little gust my canoe headed for the 2m reeds nestling into them until I convinced it to nose its way out. It was very atmospheric paddling through this – I felt as if we were in the Burmese jungle, but the river made us all mix metaphors… Nell saw the old mine workings on the hillside and asked if they were made by giant rabbits, and Lola kept saying she’d had a nightmare about the various structures – the viaduct, the wonky chimney – that kept emerging as we rounded the river’s bends.
At 1pm the tide turned but as we were only one corner away from our canoe end point we managed to paddle home, not more than 10 minutes after the others. And instead of being wet we were sunned, relaxed and able to leave the packing up to Canoe Tamar (tel: 0845 430 1208) while we bought delicious Cornish pasties at the Victorian bakery and then ate them on the back of a cart pulled by a Clydesdale to give us another view of Morwellham Quay http://www.morwellham-quay.co.uk/.