For those who venture onto the Rame peninsula to visit, there are 865 acres of county park to explore, including spectacular Grade I formal gardens, a folly, a grotto and a temple, all of this set against the backdrop of the River Tamar, with Plymouth against the skyline.
We started, as most do, at the Barrow Centre, known as the heart of the park and named for the Bronze Age burial mound located in the park. There is a charge which goes towards the upkeep of the estate which is run partly by Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council.
At the Barrow Centre, there are many temptations to divert you from your walk, ranging from Segway to several lovely little shops and galleries. We persevered however and from here followed signs to Mount Edgcumbe House, turning a corner to be confronted by the glorious Grade II listed building, with a terrace which overlooked the beautiful grassy slope of The Avenue which leads down to the banks of the Tamar, offering stunning views over to Devonport on the other side of the river.
We strolled (or in the case of the children ran and rolled) down The Avenue, all the way to the gates of the park where you find the Cremyll foot ferry to Plymouth and The Formal Gardens. These are very beautiful with English, French and Italian gardens among others, and an ornate fountain centrepiece. We strolled through these past The Orangerie restaurant and then out along the South West Coast Path.
From here we passed the Garden Battery and Blockhouse, a small fort built on the shoreline in King Henry VIII’s reign. After strolling along the peaceful wooded banks of the river we soon reached the Amphitheatre and Milton’s Temple. This is a really beautiful place on the water’s edge. Built in 1755 it is a circular Ionic temple, with a plaque inscribed with lines from the poem Paradise Lost, ‘overhead up grew, Insuperable heights of loftiest shade…..’ John Milton, (1608 – 1674), a reference to the shroud of trees surrounding the slim white stone of the structure.
A winding path then took us up to The Folly, an 18th century artificial ruin built of stone salvaged from local churches. The Folly has spectacular views of Drake’s Island and Plymouth Sound, and it was a beautiful place to stop for a while.
Continuing on beyond Lady Emma’s Cottage, now a holiday let, we wound our way up the steep paths named the Zig-zags which take you through exotic shrubs and archways. Eventually, we reached the pretty stone shelter of Picklecombe Seat. Like the Folly, this shelter was built with medieval stone from nearby churches. Beneath it stand the private apartments of Picklecombe Fort, once part of Plymouth’s Victorian defences. We continued through the woods and inland, out into the open landscape of the Deer Park, eventually wending our way to pretty Maker Church, site of worship for the Edgcumbe family and the local community for centuries. We were pleased to reach the road back down into the heart of the park at this point, and followed signs for the short home stretch back to the Barrow Centre where we began.
We stopped off while the children, now suddenly finding renewed energy enjoyed time in the play area, peeked at sleeping bats via the batcam and ice cream while we grown-ups enjoyed coffee and cake at The Stables Café. We reflected as we left that there is still so much to do at Mount Edgcumbe. There are shops, exhibits and opportunities to cycle or even ride around the estate. For us, however, it has been a wonderful exploration on foot.
- Find it: You reach Mount Edgcumbe from Cornwall by following signs from Trerulefoot to the Torpoint ferry, and then taking the A374 and B3247 (brown signs) to Millbrook and from there just three miles to Mount Edgcumbe.
- Time and distance: About 4.2 miles, two hours, moderate with some steep paths
- Facilities: There are toilets, the Stables Café and a car park as well as several shops at the Barrow Centre. Follow signs from the main entrance.