The wide River Tamar with its historic road and rail bridges forms the Eastern border of Cornwall. The entire valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and much of it is part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. The valley stretches from the characterful town of Saltash, up a wide wooded valley not far from the western edges of Dartmoor towards the historic town of Launceston. The river offers excellent fishing and the valley can be explored by canoe, on foot, or via the little Tamar Valley branch line railway.
Canoeing on the Tamar, image Matt Jessop
As you explore the woods and paths of the valley, you'll find mine chimneys poking from the trees and old ruins along the river - from Bronze age burial mounds and Iron Age fortresses, to old stone buildings once home to nineteenth century mines and market garden buildings. The river is tidal a surprisingly long way inland - even as far as Calstock. There, if you time it right, you can walk along the banks of the Tamar underneath the magnificent viaduct and marvel at the sight of a river flowing upstream!
Calstock, image Victoria Clare
Not far from Calstock is the National Trust property of Cotehele, a beautifully preserved Tudor manor set in acres of woodland. The woodland walk from Calstock to Cotehele, along the Dansecombe Valley is truly spectacular if you come when the daffodils or bluebells are in bloom.
Cotehele, image National Trust
Until the big suspension bridge at Saltash was built in the 1960s, the lowest road crossing over the Tamar was the New Bridge at Gunnislake. (It was "new" in 1520...) Coming west from Gunnislake will take you to Callington and, looming majestically over the town, Kit Hill. This granite hill offers fantastic 360 degree views from the summit - west to Bodmin Moor, south to Plymouth and the sea, east to Dartmoor and north towards Launceston. The hill was presented to the people of Cornwall by the present Duke of Cornwall (Prince Charles). It's a paradise for walkers, including four-legged ones.
Kit Hill, image Victoria Clare
North of Callington, the river is somewhat narrower and there are a couple more medieval bridges allowing you to cross easily into Devon if you so wish. If you continue north on the Cornish side, you will come to Launceston, an important historic town with its own Norman castle.
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