Okehampton to St Austell
Tour granite scenery, market towns and green river valleys
Follow the route – Okehampton to St Austell
> From Okehampton continue on the B3260, then at the end go over the A30 to join an unclassified road (the old A30 again) past Sticklepath and South Zeal. Just before Whiddon Down turn right on to the A382 to Moretonhampstead.
Before reaching Moretonhampstead you will pass the remarkable Castle Drogo, a massive granite castle designed by Edward Lutyens, to the left of the road near Drewsteignton. Drive on across the heart of Dartmoor to Moretonhampstead, a small market town with some fine old buildings. At Postbridge you can see the finest of the clapper bridges. One of England’s oldest man-made bridges, it was used by pack-horses to carry ore from the mines.
Places to stay in Moretonhampstead
> Turn right on to the B3212 and drive across Dartmoor for 14 miles (23km) to Princetown.
Princetown, the highest town in England, is noted for its prison, which was built for French captives of the Napoleonic Wars. These captives were brought to Dartmoor to work for Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, who built a magnificent house nearby.
Walks near Princetown
> Head west along the B3357 to Tavistock.
Famous for its October Goose Fair, Tavistock is also of considerable interest for its association with tin and copper mining. The town is largely Victorian, but there are many older buildings – the remains of a Benedictine abbey founded in the 10th century and 15th-century St Eustace’s Church. The statue of Francis Drake is a reminder that the Elizabethan sailor was born at nearby Crowndale Farm.
Where to eat in Tavistock
> Leave Tavistock on the A386 and just before crossing the river bridge, turn right along an unclassified road for 4 miles (6km) to Morwellham Quay.
Visiting Morwellham Quay
Formerly a port, Morwellham, at 350 feet (107m) above sea level, is linked to the river by a remarkable inclined plane. It was the greatest copper port in Victorian times, and the old harbour and quays have been repaired by the Morwellham Trust. Crafts and costumes of 100 years ago are on show and there are underground reconstructions of working conditions and early mining techniques.
Where to stay near Morwellham Quay
> Return to the A390 and head westwards to Liskeard.
Liskeard is a small, lively town with a mix of high street and independent shops. This former market town has some grand Victorian buildings and features of architectural interest. These include Webb’s Hotel, which overlooks the Parade; the Guildhall and its Italianate tower on Market Street; the Public Hall and Forester's Hall, both dating from the 1890s; and the church of St Martin, which is the second largest church in Cornwall. There’s also an ancient well, the Pipe Well, which is gated off on Well Lane, off Market Street.
Places to stay in and around Liskeard
> Join the A38 for a short while, leaving the main road to pass through Dobwalls and then pick up the A390 again to Lostwithiel.
Lostwithiel sits at the highest point reached by the tide on the River Fowey. The old bridge dates from the 14th century, and Restormel Castle, which proudly overlooks the River Fowey, is even older, having first been built as a wooden fort in the 11th century.
At Charlestown, a few miles along the road, is the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, which displays an interesting assortment of treasures from the sea bed. Outside the museum is the picturesque, unspoilt harbour, which still looks much as it did in the 1790s.
Places to stay in Lostwithiel
> Continue on the A390, following signs for the Eden Project.
Visiting the Eden Project
The Eden Project opened in March 2001. Gardens planted with nearly 2,000 species cover some 32 acres (13 hectares) of land, interspersed with dome-shaped greenhouses called biomes which replicate different eco-systems, such as rainforest and Mediterranean climates. Built on the site of a derelict claypit, it is now one of Cornwall’s most successful visitor attractions.
Places to stay near the Eden Project
> Return to St Austell on the A390.
Visiting St Austell
The St Austell Bay area, which includes Fowey, Mevagissey and the Eden Project, is an area worth exploring. St Austell town has overcome the disadvantage of its raw industrial hinterland of the clay country and is today a busy shopping venue with its largely modernised centre enhanced by some fine traditional buildings. It is also famed for its beer. The town’s brewery produces some of the county’s most distinctive drinks, from Tribute to Smugglers, Admiral’s Ale and Proper Job.