(May 16, 2015)
We slept in a bit, feeling tired from all of the running around we’d been doing, and then had breakfast from our kitchen. The eggs were gorgeous with their deep yellow, almost orange coloring, and the juice refreshingly pure.
Then off we went to Dartmoor to hopefully see a series of hilltop forts and stone circles. Specifically, we wanted to see: Spinster’s Rock, Haytor, Grimspound, and the Merrivale alignment. We were only able to find Haytor, which is a great outcropping of stone and gives you a good idea of . . . . But the stone circles were too hard to find, and our trusty mapper was unable to connect to the satellite to be able to help us. (DARN IT!)
Signs on the edge of Dartmoor ask that drivers go no faster than 40 mph because there are live animals on the road. Locally placed signs added that it was lambing season . . . And this is what we saw:
At one point, a mother sheep and an ewe were walking in the road ahead of us, baaing. We felt like we were (unavoidably) herding her, but couldn’t understand why they didn’t get out of the road . . even when the two started running! Then, from off to the right, came a frantic little ewe — he’d been separated and lost! With the family united, mom moved to the side, the ewes started feeding contentedly, and we moved on. So CUTE! (Yes, we squealed.)
On the edge of the western side of Dartmoor is the Peter Tavy Inn and I cannot recommend having a meal there highly enough. Locally sourced food, prepared beautifully, and with great service (albeit a tad quirky). We asked at the bar if a table was available, and were told where to sit. Then he asked for our drink orders (Tavy Ale for me, a coke for J.); upon serving us, he told us to choose from the menu on the chalkboard and to place our order with him directly. We were actually served at our table and from there all was normal; but we did get the bill and pay it at the bar again. Like I said, quirky.
The food was glorious. J had a simple tuna baguette, bursting with fish and accompanied by a wonderful salad. He told me the (cherry) tomatoes were like candy they were so sweet. I had the chicken liver pate and a smoked salmon & spring onion tart, which came with a full salad’s worth of greens and a sweet mustard vinaigrette which was perfect. My pate was smooth and perfectly prepared to bring out the richness of the liver, accompanied by a chutney. The tart, however, was really special. Packed with salmon barely held together by the egg, it was rich and wonderful. We’d been told to have the ice cream in these parts, so we did . . . and we were deeply pleased by the rich creaminess and intense flavors.
From Dartmoor we continued further to the west to Tintagel, so called birthplace of King Arthur. I had few expectations that this was anything other than a quick photo op, but it became something really special. The castle is what everyone heards about, but there are structures surrounding it, out on that spit of land, that predate the castle by 100s of years. And you can really see a lot of it when you climb up (and up and up!) to the ‘island’ (or is it an isthmus?) and wander the ruins. There are goats and sheep out there, clearly at home with humans wandering around (but don’t get too close) and a kind of a crow with grey in its head, making it look very seagull-y.
Again upon recommendation, we stopped for dinner at the Springer Spaniel, where we managed to get the last table serving from the restaurant instead of the bar (much to the chagrin of several parties stopping by later than us). I stared with the pigeon wellington, which was fabulous. Perfectly cooked meat smothered in local mushrooms, wrapped in a light pastry, served with a reduction of cherry, a spoonful of mushrooms, and a slice of what I presumed was pigeon ‘bacon’ (dried pigeon meat). J. had steamed asparagus which was also fabulous. For his main, J. had a burger with pulled BBQ pork as a topping on a brioche bun and declared it amazing. I thought his three onion rings were superb, but my main of fish and chips was not. The chips were great, but the fish lacked flavor, and since it was presented in one long slab, was not particularly elegant. (Meal cost = 58 pounds for 2 waters, 2 cokes, 1 glass of Pinot Noir, 2 starters and 2 mains.)