Kit Hill, Cotehele House, and Cream Tea - My Family Travels


Coming from the busy excitement of London, the Tamar Valley in Devon was a breath of fresh air. A small peninsula between Devon and Cornwall, it was a green paradise. It looked just like as we pictured England to be. A patchwork of pastures, greens and yellows and browns, stretching on to the misty blue horizon of where sea meets sky.


We were lucky to stay with my uncle’s family, at their home called North Ward Farm. It has been a farm house since 1100. My bedroom had a balcony, looking out onto the River Tamar, the aqueduct rising high above it, and the village of Calstock scrambling up along the banks.



On the first day- the first sunny Saturday North Ward Farm had in weeks, if not months- we had a long breakfast, complete with the best of British food. Bacon and eggs, toast, sausages,  and my aunt’s homemade marmalade and jam. She used strawberries from her garden. Originally we had plans to visit Cotehele House, located in the woods on the opposite side of the river. But upon arriving at the station, we were forced to watch the train slowly pull away and off towards the aquaduct. We were late, by seconds.There wouldn’t be another for two hours. Instead, my cousin decided us to show us the grandeur of West Devon by hiking up a tor. 


Perched amidst the ruins of a disused mine on Kit Hill, I could see Plymouth seated below me on the edge of the English Channel, where the Mayflower first departed. Dartmoor lined the horizon, a protected moorland, which hides relics from the late Neolithic Age, mischievous pixie and ghost stories, and wild ponies. The view stretched for so far that it boggled the mind.


The next day, we made sure to catch the train on time, but not before exploring the village of Bere Ferrers. It is located on the west bank of the River Tavy. In the parish church resides an early medieval monument to a knight and lady, and has a baron’s tomb buried in the wall. Some lucky fellows have an look out over the river from their graves.


Walking in the Italian-styled gardens, 16th century Cotehele House was an enigma. Something that did not belong in this humble valley, and yet fitted in so perfectly with its breathtaking views and graceful grey buildings. Like an old lady, she rested above everything else and surveyed the land that once belonged to her.


As a lover of tea myself (with lots of sugar and no milk), a cream tea sounded like the obvious thing to try, though I was dubious about the ‘cream’ bit. So it was much to my surprise when we were given warm scones, with jam and whipped double cream. The Edgecombe tea rooms were quaint. The murmuring of other women and girls at other times created a soft hum of a melody to fill the silence.


There is a tradition when it comes to cream tea on how you spread your jam and cream. Cornwall tradition dictates you must spread your jam on first, then your cream on top. In Devon, it is cream first and jam second. As my cousin remarked, the Devon way allows for much more cream and jam to be piled onto the scone. “They must be much skinnier in Cornwall,” she said. 

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