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Steeped in

Golant is a picturesque riverside village with an inn, hotel and jetty. Pleasing cottages edged with trees and flowers characterise this little village on the western banks of the Fowey River, nestling at the foot of a verdant hill and facing one of the broadest and prettiest parts of the river. Steeped in history and literature the village has links with Charles I, Arthurian legend, the romance of Tristram and Iseult, Daphne du Maurier and Kenneth Grahame.
The parish has a population of less than 300, bounded on the east by the Fowey and on the west by a ridge of high ground on which rests Castledore, the ancient camp of King Mark, one of the last of the Cornish kings. South lies the parish of Fowey while to the north is Lanlivery parish.
The small parish church of St Sampson, named after the 6th century Welsh Bishop from Glamorgan, was consecrated in 1509 and his holy well is located beside the south porch, where he built his first shelter during his travels from Wales. Legend has it that he stands up to his neck in an icy hill stream between 3am and cock crow.
It is believed that there was a small religious cell or chapel here in pre-Norman times called by the Celtic name of Golant. The Cornish 'Golans' means a small valley and this fits the location quite well. However the village was originally called Churchtown and it is not certain when the Celtic name was adopted.
A decisive battle in the Civil War was fought at Castledore on 31 August 1644 King Charles had been pushing the parliamentary forces, under Essex, further west. Loyalists in the extreme west were marching eastwards, and Essex had little option but to go south towards Fowey. His army made a stand st King Mark's old castle but was utterly routed. It is reputed that Charles slept overnight in his carriage at Castledore before the surrender of Lord Essex.
Little else disturbed the village until the visit of Garibaldi to Penquite House in 1864. Golant has long connections with boating and fishing and in recent years has become known for its sailing fraternity.
To the north of the parish is a farmhouse that stands on what is believed to be the site of the old Manor House, mentioned in the Doomsday Book, when Cornwall, in common with the rest of the country, was divided into hundreds bv King William following the Norman Conquest. The parish of St Sampson became part of the Powder Hundred under Count Mortain.
Brunel's bridge across the River Tamar was opened in 1859. By 1863 this brought the railway. picturesquely along the edge of the river, to Golant each Wednesday morning. With the coming of the railway Golant was poised to become involved in the holiday business.
In a guide to Fowey and its neighbourhood, written in 1901, the village was described as a favourite pleasure resort during three seasons of the year. Golant flourished as a resort and continues to the present day with the accent on boating and both sea and river fishing. Sadly, in 1965, the passenger railway closed.
Many authors have been inspired by the area. Probably the most famous is Daphne du Maurier whose family bought a secctnd home a mile up river from Golant. She loved this holiday home and surrounding countryside which gave her the freedom to write, to walk, to wander, to climb hills, to pull a boat and to be alone. Last May Fowey celebrated the Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts and Literature to commemorate her life and works.
We all know and love 'The Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame. In May 1907 he wrote 'Tales of the River Bank' inspired by a boating trip up the River Fowey to a little village called Golant. 'The Wind in the Willows' was published in June 1908 and it is believed that the stretch of river from Fowey to Golant inspired Grahame to write this extraordinary tale of adventure.

- Rita Westlake


Natural crossroads
of the county

Every year Bodmin celebrates a Riding and Heritage Day

The town of Bodmin situated the moor of the same name lies midway between the north and south Cornish coasts It Book during St Petroc is road. which runs east-west along the backbone of Cornwall, and the ancient route between the celebration, the origin River Camel, which flows north, and the southerly flowing River Fowey. As a consequence it has been an important Cornish town for over a thousand years.
Steeped in history. it has boasted its own assize court, county jail and military barracks. Today the jail, built in 1776, is open to visitors. The scene of hard labour and public hangings (the last in 1909) the jail was home to the Crown Jewels and the Doomsday Book during the last war.
Each year Bodmin holds its Riding and Heritage Day, an age-old celebration, the origin of which has never been satisfactorily explained. The most popular explanation is linked with St Petroc's bones being returned to Bodmin in 1177 AD. He was a Celtic saint around whose monastery Bodmin was first developed.
Historically. the evening before the ceremony, townsfolk would attend church and the craft guild emblems would be paraded. Ridings Ales would be distributed from house to house. On Riding Day itself, anyone who owned or who could 'beg, borrow or steal' a mount of some sort would go in procession,
divided into classes. each of which would bear the emblem of its craft and profession. Today this procession continues and children dance to the Riding Dance - 'Bodmin's Riding Air' - down the length of Fore Street.
St Petroc is considered the 'heart and spirit' of Cornwall and his remains are contained in casket in the beautiful priory church. named after him. in the centre of Bodmin. The town, and indeed the nation. was shocked when the casket was stolen, and was relieved on its return some 40 days later. Little remains of the original monastic buildings of the Dark Ages but there is one legacy of the Church presence in the town - St Lawrence Hospital, a large Victorian asylum.
Bodmin is guarded by Berry Tower and it is fascinating to think that it was built by the mason Harry Sleeman back in the 14th century tale of Bodmin and its railway The Camel Trail It took him 14 years to build and he was paid a daily rate of sixpence. This tower still stands,nearly 500 years later, and is a testimony to the skills of our forefathers.
Another landmark of Bodmin is the Gilbert Memorial just outside the town in the Bodmin Beacon Local Nature Reserve. This is a 144-foot obelisk that dominates the skyline and was built to the memory of the famous Bodmin soldier Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert. The panoramic viewsfrom here are quite superb.
For those who are familiar with the works of 'Q' (Sir Arthur Quilter Couch) his book Cuckoo Valley Railway is a thinly disguised tale of Bodmin and its railway. The Camel Trail now follows this, the line of one of the world's very first steam railways.
Most of us are more familiar with Bodmin Moor, from Tales of the Beast of Bodmin Moor' and the 'Poldark' series. It was once the Gretna Green of the South. A Knight's Templar hospice was founded in 1120 AD in the tiny settlement of Temple. After the Reformation,the church remained outside the jurisdiction of the Bishop for well over 200 years and many clandestine marriages took place there.

- Rita Westlake


Where you can ask the way to Paradise

Boscastle captures all the romance, mystery and magic of Cornwall at its best. A picturesque nook, built at the end of a deep narrow creek, it runs far inland giving safe shelter for vessels of considerable size. It offers breathtaking views, dramatic coastline, wonderful walks and outstanding natural beauty - truly a living picture postcard.
The village of Boscastle has a history which dates back to 1066 and beyond. It has attracted many by the power of its beauty. It represents the epitome of what must people want Cornwall to be.
Early in the reign of Queen Victoria, Boscastle became a popular place to visit with outstanding scenic beauty, invigorating air, interesting history and quaint style. In Boscastle you can ask the way to Paradise and will not be laughed at. At the top of the hill, in the oldest part of the town, you will find the area known as Paradise where the houses all date from before the l820s.

- Rita Westlake

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