Plymouth, day 3

Sunday, 4/22:

Dartmouth Castle was beyond reach; so I settled for the Mt. Edgecumbe estate.  I walked down to the train station to get a taxi.  The drivers of the first two cars were deep in conversation.  After hanging around for a minute, I asked the third car driver if he was free.  He told me to go to the first car, and called out to break up their huddle.

EdgecumbeI had the cab take me to the Cremyll ferry landing.  It was a little dock at a street-end.  I joined about 20 people, not counting a few babies and dogs, in a small boat.  It was a short hop to Cremyll on a headland south of Plymouth.  The estate, which is now a county park, was next to the landing.

I walked up a long grassy slope to the house.  It’s smaller than it was, I learned.  It was fire-bombed during World War II and only the main part of the house was rebuilt.  It has four decorative towers and sits amid a formal garden.  The house is now a museum of fine and unusual antiques.  The family portraits didn’t connect for me, except for that of young Lieutenant Edgecumbe, who died in 1940; everybody suffered during the war.

follyOn a map of the grounds I noticed a “folly.”  I walked out to see it.  It was an observation tower at the base of a grassy slope, designed to look like a fragment of a castle or church; I liked it a lot.  From here one can see Drake’s Island, which I’ve read has medieval fortifications.  I could see some of the old walls with my monocular.  None of the promotional material about Plymouth makes any mention of it, and no ferries go there.  It seems that, no matter where I go, I always end up wanting to go further, to someplace impossible.  (Later, the innkeeper’s wife told me that the island has been deemed unsafe.)

The trail east steepened into stairs and switchbacks.  It descended thru a tangle of trees, depositing me on a rocky, windy shore by the shipping channel into Plymouth harbor.  I returned along the spine of the peninsula, crossing a sheep pasture.  A sign on the gate asked, if I hadn’t had my dog de-wormed in the past three months, that I pick up my dog’s poop to protect the sheep from disease.  Apparently, qualifying dog-poop is welcome here!

I took the ferry back to town.  The cab-driver who picked me up was happy to hear I was from Seattle.  “They have great basketball!”  I brought him up to date; the Supersonics were sold.  But we have football and baseball teams.  No, not soccer, and not rugby; American football.

Smeaton's Tower, Plymouth Hoe

Smeaton’s Tower, Plymouth Hoe

I walked around the Citadel overlooking the old harbor.  It was sealed tight, and the mossy stone walls were reinforced with rusty razor wire.  A sign at the entrance warned that there was a risk of fire and explosions.  I couldn’t see anyone inside.  Beyond was the Hoe, a level highland overlooking the bay.  The apocryphal story about Drake finishing his bowling game as the Spanish Armada approached is set here.

Smeaton’s Tower, a red and white striped lighthouse, had just closed.  Beyond it, roustabouts were packing up a fair.  I wondered if the Klingon doorman at Jaipur Palace would let me in again.   This time he was working as a waiter; he grinned in recognition.  I had chicken and lamb cooked in mildly spicy yoghurt sauce, and Saak Paneer again; it was wonderful.

churchI’d noticed the picked-clean Gothic skeleton of a church on the island of the Charles Cross roundabout.  I took my tripod for some night shots, and got a bonus; it’s floodlit.  Later I learned that the Charles Church was fire-bombed in 1941 and has been preserved as a monument to the dead of that war.  (More pictures)


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