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The Tors, Carns, hills (and pubs!) of Cornwall.. with a few on Dartmoor too!

May 20, 2013
by Comrade Mureth
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Lost Carkees

No updates for a while, cos we’ve been working and gardening…!  But Torbagging season is now in full swing, so to get you in the mood, here’s one I did back in March…. Carkees Tor!

One of the more overlooked tors on Bodmin Moor; surrounded by more impressive ones, and somewhat harder to get to… Sootika and I have tried to get here twice before; the first time was via Hawk’s Tor, to be scuppered by extensive barbed wire; the second was after doing Garrow Tor, when we nearly got there but weather and faulty OS map reading sent us slightly the wrong way!

So, third time lucky!

The thing with Carkees is that’s it’s VERY easy to lose sight of it, if you’ll excuse the pun… especially in bad weather, and it’s very, very easy to take a slightly wrong turn and then end up way off course.  There are a couple of points where you’re confronted with an almost Gandalf in Moria type of situation… no, don’t be silly, we’ve never seen a Balrog on Bodmin Moor… but there are moments when you’re confronted with three paths, all seemingly going in the same direction – choose the wrong one and although you won’t end up shouting “fly, you fools!” it will scupper your chances of climbing Carkees Tor…

Anyway, having an afternoon to kill by myself, I was determined to cross this one off the list; despite it being a mere 2 degrees with a 30 mph north-easterly wind.   Sootika had sent me off with a flask of home-made lentil, carrot and leek soup (the latter two being home grown), so I was ready!

I parked at the same spot that we did earlier in the year for Butter’s Tor – just up the road from De Lank Waterworks.   Here’s the maps again to help you get to this spot.

Once you’ve parked, walk down the hill keeping the De Lank Waterworks on your left.  You’ll hear strange industrial noises coming from here; which actually seems quite eerie on the wild, open moorland that surrounds it.

Follow the road to the end.  You’ll come to gate; open or go over, whichever seems best to you.  Go down the hill, and you’ll cross a small bridge over the De Lank river.  You’ll now follow the lane briefly in an East-South-Easterly direction, going back uphill – after about 60m or so, you’ll see the lane go off ahead of you, with turnings to both left and right.  IGNORE BOTH.  Go on for about another 40m, and you’ll see a gate in front of you.  Go through/over.  Now it gets seriously weird, and we come to the Gandalf moment.

DO NOT take the path to the right; the paths to the left and centre are however both do-able.  I took the centre one, but I think in hindsight the left is better.   There’s a barbed wire fence that you need to be on your right hand side; if you take the centre path, you’ll see a gate that will get you through, but I think the left fork will take you directly onto the open access land.

Once you’re on the right bit of the moor, it’s then an easy trip up to the tor.  I kept the wire fence close to me on the right, as the OS map showed a couple of shafts on the northern (Left) part of this moor so I didn’t want to take any chances.

I didn’t expect much from Carkees Tor to be honest; having seen it from a distance, I thought it to be one for completists only – WRONG!  Though a relatively easy climb, there are two reasons that make this a must-visit tor; firstly, there are some great outcrops here, and a real feeling of isolation; secondly, the views are amazing.  Gaze north-east and Roughtor, Garrow Tor and Brown Willy all dominate the horizon – don’t take my word for it, do it yourself and prepare to go “wow!”

After spending some time on the tor, and then sheltering from the howling wind and drinking my soup, I just retraced my route back.

In sight of the car, I ventured onto Emblance downs, trying to get a look at the Leaze Stone Circle – managed to get a pic of it with my zoom lens, but alas it’s not on open access land.

Back to the car now, with the heaters on full blast and some more soup!

 

 

April 8, 2013
by Sootika
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You stink Mr Trink!!!

9th March 2013

Nice weather, windy but not too cold.

Quote of the walk……”I’ve got gorse up to me lady garden!”

No song, too many pricks J

Distance:  2 miles, tops!

Ah HA!!!  Easy peasey we thought to this one J  Went out for lunch at The Water Mill, veeeery nice and veeery tasty!  Gifts exchanged, and then on we went a little bit further to find Trink Hill just outside Cripplesease.

Here’s the map!

Being the good people that we are we had to try the little pub there, called the Engine. Just to let you know what it’s like! Again, very friendly with a warm welcoming atmosphere, here’s Portly smelling the daffs!

red panda loves lager!

red panda loves lager!

We only had a half, as time was a  turning and this was supposed to be a walk after all J    We went out of the pub and turned left … little did we know this was the completely wrong thing to do, and we suffered later!  If we were you, ask them nicely in the pub if you could use their car park and walk up Trink Hill from there !… But we didn’t know that then, so we went left and parked up by a rather old, attractive engine house, hence the name of the pub we thought!  We’m some clever you know LOL!!!

I tried taking a pic of the upper window expecting to see a floating ghost when we got back, but nowt was there.

Now you’ll say to yourself, just up and over and then we’re done, another hill-slash-Tor to strike off your list!

We started off easy enough, followed a path which actually led to no where at all.  Did that stop us ?  Nah!!! We found another path, and another, and another till we found ourselves completely surrounded by gorse almost up to our heads!  We headed towards a stone which looked like it might mean something, but when we got there, it spoke not.  So we cunningly decided to follow the hedge/wall up to the top .  Ripped to shreds by gorse and brambles as thick as tree trunks with daggers attached, we kept onwards and upwards.  Then we went over the wall thinking it was less vicious that side…… it was not! I remember thinking why does no one come up here, it’s a lovely spot, but impassable!  I think that was my answer.

Up at the top there’s another wall, so we went over that and then you can see a bit of a view!

Turn right and there’s the top!!!  Hurrah!   We sped up at that point, and finally got to the Trig Point,.

Having a quick nosey over the hedge to see if we could see 12 O Clock Rock, but saw 2 massive standing stones instead!  Curious we thought, not marked on the map!  So stupidly we leaped over and made our way to the standing stones.  Again lots of paths that led you to nowhere apart from gorse hell pits!

We saw 12 O Clock Rock, but couldn’t be bothered to get there J  Most unlike us, but the standing stones were more attractive to us!  We finally got to them, and then realised that they weren’t old at all!  Blah!!!!!  Still pretty impressive though!  Also be VERY careful if you try and go down the hill around here, as Comrade Mureth thought he saw a shaft / cesspit, so watch where you’re putting your feet.

Now for the blood ripping, walk back.  We’ll go down this way, bound to be easier!  It wasn’t!   The mysterious hole was just one of many obstacles, we tried to break through the gorse but couldn’t!  And then we had to walk back up to the top and go back exactly there way we’d come up LOL!!!

The pain didn’t really hit till I got back to the car LOL!! My boots were full of thorns and gorse, my leggings we’re ripped, and my me poor legs looked like I had measles !  I did not take a picture of that J  We looked at the clock and realised it had taken us two hours to go a couple of miles!!!  RIDICULOUS!

But we think it was worth it, a really special little part of west Penwith, with tremendous views, a couple of unknown standing stones, and a great pub near by!  Not sure why the rock is called Twelve O’clock Rock, but hey!  Who cares!

Next time we’ll park in the  pub and walk up the easy way!

 

February 26, 2013
by Sootika
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Lanlavery and the deceitful Maiden

Date of walk:  15th of February 2013

Weather: beautiful Spring-like day.

Song: Blackmore’s Night – Highland

Food: left-over cheese and potato pie, souped up and put in a flask, very, very, nommy!

Quote of the walk:  “It’s like you have to use your tongue as a spoon.”

Distance:  Approx 8 miles

Righty ho! And we’re off!

The main attraction of this walk is Maiden Tor, and she’s a beauty.  No need for the A30 for us today as we’ve been staying at Darrynane self catering cottage.  So we made our way through Camelford and around to Davidstow airfield.  If you’re coming from the east, you’ll probably find it easier to head to Davidstow Airfield via the A30 turn-off at Five Lanes.  Here’s the ever important map.


View Larger Map

We were hoping to have a quick scamper through the woods, but ended up driving through and looking at the reservoir and beyond that was Lanlavery rock! Well says I, that looks some easy, so we turned back on ourselves and parked up by the disused campsite. We saw lots of  Radio control aeroplanes, much to Comrade Mureth’s dismay as he’d left his at home!  Also you’ll see behind a massive white building which I named the cheese factory, like willy wonka without the chocolate :)
Off we set, just making our way straight towards Lanlavery rock .  This is not as easy as it looks!  Not far in we could see the Crowdy reservoir to the right, some sheep in the middle and that pesky rock.  But beware, check the map and you’ll see a coffin shaped marshy area cordoned off.  We think just in the middle there might a path through, but not for us, not today.  It started getting too marshy to walk through, so because we didn’t fancy getting sucked into oblivion or worse still loose, a boot, back we turned, and made our way, slowly and slurpily around the smelly marsh.
We made it all the way back to the road, and walked down to the gate. Thinking that this would be easier, but alas, farming machinery had whipped up all the earth, into a slushy sorbet.  So back we turned again along the road this time, until we found some firm earth to jump on.  Then we carried on with this leaping method, really until we finally got to the rock! We had to keep to the left, and out of the marsh… but we finally got there in the end!


A stunning view from Lanlavery indeed.  Far reaching across the reservoir, back to the cheese factory and airfield from whence we came; and behind are the looming masses of Roughtor and of course Brown Willy. We sat atop this pleasant spot and ate our soupy pie! Oh and Lanlavery rock means Laboursome Leap. Not so sure about the leap, but it was a pain in the arse to get to!
Looking towards Brown Willy you’ll see a small spur that’s sticking up the North western side. That is Maiden Tor.  I know it looks quite a way,  and so she be, but she’s worth it! We left Lanlavery and headed for the boundary stones, marked on the map.  Easy to find, but not overly impressive.   Then we kept on towards the Tor half jumping half walking, and half avoiding falling over! Also avoiding Roughtor marshes ,I tell you this place is one endless sogg.


And just when you think you’re almost there,  what do you find?  Two, yes, two bloody barbed wire fences and more marsh and pits than you can shake a stick at!  We negotiated the marshy, rivery ,pitty bit, and thankfully found a bit of the fence that some kind walker had already <ahem> bent… No, it WAS NOT US!  Still, be very careful when going over.  We always use our plastic map cover to protect our nether regions!  Get caught on it, and you’ll know it.  No Tor is worth barbed wire up your bum, so if you think you can’t make it, please don’t do it!


Then we leapt over the gate, and from here on in, it goes all Butters Tor! Endless tussocks and munge, but fab for those thighs! We followed the fence up until we saw the top and then we headed straight for that.  Absolutely breath taking views, and well worth risking those barbs. Roughtor looks stunning, but if you climb to the top have a care, there’s a wobbly rock! Time for more liquid pie, and yes, maybe you do have to use your tongue as a spoon!


Back down we were unlucky enough to find a sheep’s skull caught in the barbed wire. A nasty sight, and maybe a good argument against any fencing on the moors, I’d like it to be all open, better for us and better for the animals.  Now all we had to do was the long haul back, passing lots of sheep, horses and an old mine works… and avoiding the squdge once again!

Safely back in our car we found out that something dreadful had happened. Portly my red panda rucksack (the one whose partial to pints of beer ) his dolly Alice had lost a shoe!  What to do? Go back and look for it? All those miles, and all that sogg?  We discussed it for a while and as we talked we came to the awful realization that we stank! Kinda horse pee, marsh and… cats-pee, oddly enough!

Nothing else for it.

Sod the shoe and head for the Jamaica Inn! Hopefully they wouldn’t notice the smell, it’s a large pub!
With our beer and well-earned crisps in hand, we had a good warm up by the open fire, perhaps steamed a little too ,and soon the bar was empty!

February 21, 2013
by Comrade Mureth
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Torbagging the Easy Way #2: Alex Tor

ALEX TOR:  So simple, so surprising, so beautiful.

We’ve driven past this several times in the past, you barely even notice it from the car – but it really is worth a visit, not only for the amazing views from the summit, but also for the incredible granite outcrops atop it.  None are particularly high, but there’s almost a labyrinthine element to them once you’re up there – you could spend hours meandering between them.

Anyway, get to St Breward whichever way seems best to you – don’t forget to stop at the Old Inn on the way, or on the way back if you prefer! – then follow the road north past the pub.  Once you’re going downhill, you’ll come to a hairpin bend – don’t follow it around to the left, but turn right here instead.  We’ll let the map do the talking now, as it’s a bit fiddly!

View Tors, Carns and Hills – Kernow Torbagging in a larger map

You can either park at the foot of Alex Tor on it’s western side, or carry on a little and park at the eastern side – though it looks like you can go further on this road, DON’T.  It’s a private road, and although it’s a great path to walk on deeper into the moor, vehicles ain’t allowed.  If you see this sign on your right, you’ll know to stop!

Ascend Alex Tor, really easy cos it’s not too steep and you can’t miss the summit –you’ll first see the immense ring cairn atop it, one of the most impressive in any part of Cornwall.  Once you’re there, the tor is quite “plateauxesque” and you can spend some time amongst the great outcrops.  There are so many other Tors visible from here; Both Roughtor peaks, Bron Wennily, Showery Tor, Garrow Tor, Butter’s Tor… and probably more!

You can either hop back down to your car now, or… as we intended to do… head down to Stannon Stone Circle.  We’d been there a few times before, but not for a while – however the cold was beginning to get to us, there was a biting north-westerly that day and we turned back within site of the circle (and instantly regretted it lol!)

However, on our way back we did stumble on a few notable ancient stones; the remains of another cairn, halfway between the “car park” and Stannon Circle; (on “Dinnever Hill”, and closer to the car, the very impressive remnants of an ancient field system.  The OS map marks the extant remains as being within a modern field; but outside of those field there are still some very visible stones.  Well worth a detour to see.

In short, if you want to bag a quick tor, easy to climb, with amazing views and characterful rock features (ooops, I’m slipping into estate agent mode here… wanna buy a tor?!) then Alex Tor is the one for you!

We met a few horsies on the road on the way back, so TAKE CARE!  No pub for us this time, having already been to the Old Inn at St Breward… instead we stayed at the lovely Darrynane Holiday Cottages, where a certain Red Panda Rucksack was most relaxed…!

Alex Tor Details:

Elevation: 294m

Quote:  Wow!

Food:  Lunch beforehand in the Old Inn, St Breward (cheesy chips are essential for cold hiking!)

 

February 19, 2013
by Comrade Mureth
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Torbagging the Easy Way #1: Cardinham Moor

This is a pretty simple and straightforward way to get a couple of tors under your belt; just try and ignore the roar from the A30!

Park at the lay-by off the westbound A30, just after the last Temple turn-off if heading west (or the first if heading east).  There’s ample space to park here; head towards the minor road ovr the cattle grid, and immediatly turn right onto the moor.  Here’s the map!

Turn back on yourself, and head roughly south west.

You’ll descend gently downhill here, heading towards a small, marshy stream.  Fortunately it’s easily crossed – we did this in February, after one of the wettest years on record and it wasn’t an issue, just a bit squelchy in places.

You’ll see on your left lots of poles.  This is the border of the “danger area” as marked on the OS map, which is used both by the MOD and local shooting clubs.  Unfortunately, unlike Dartmoor, there seems to be nowhere to actually find out when live firing is taking place – a real shame, as this is such an easily accessible part of the moor.  We gather that flags are flown from St Bellarmin’s Tor when there is shooting, so keep your eyes to the tor to the southwest in case it goes up while you’re there!  There are some cairns that lie within the danger zone, so if it’s safe do try and find them!

Once you’ve crossed the steam, keep heading Southwest, uphill this time - St Bellarmin’s tor will soon reappear in view.  On your right, there are the remains of what must have once been a very impressive stone row – we counted at least three still upright, with some more stumps; the larger stones are on a par with the Nine Maiden’s Stone Row near St Columb.

We also spotted what appeared to be the remains of a horse, or maybe a cow… bones bleached clean and white, but there seemed to be too many thighbones; which gave it the appearance of a boneyard.  Spooky…

St Bellarmin’s Tor doesn’t look much on the map to be honest, but it’s actually quite impressive close-up – some interesting rock formations here, marred only by the trig point and that flag!  By this point you’re about as far from the A30 as you can get on this part of the moor, so it’s a good spot to sit and gaze at the great views all around.

Once you’ve had a good clamber over the tor, head north north east - watch out here, there are some quarries in the way, so if you’re doing this on a foggy day BEWARE as they have a habit of suddenly appearing just in front of you without warning!   Between the quarries lie the remains of ancient field systems, so it’s worth heading west down the slope to get a better look at these extensive remains.

You’re now heading for Colvannick Tor, easily visible ahead – unless you’ve had the bad luck to fall in a quarry of course ;)  - it’s probably one of the most familiar tors in Kernow, as it borders the A30 – to anyone heading west, it’s the first part of Bodmin Moor you’ll see.  Don’t let that proximity put you off, it’s a fine tor and a very easy “climb” from St Bellarmin’s Tor – there are a lot “pock marks” on the top that looked initially like the remains of roundhouses, but we think it’s more likely (given the nearby quarries) that they’re simply the remains of some large outcrops that have since been removed for stone.  Shame :(

Anyway, once atop Colvannick Tor, you’ll have great views across to the northern parts of the moor… and the winding grey serpent of the A30 stretched out below you.   As unpleasant and out of place as it may be in this environment, it serves a purpose I suppose… Torbagging would be a lot harder without it :D

Now it’s just a matter of heading back east – you’ll now see the Stone Row to your right again, so you’ll know your heading the right way… go back down to the little ford over the stream, being careful not to get too close to the small lake which is on your left – it gets increasingly marshy here – then it back up the hill to your car, there’s normally a burger van in the lay-by if you need refreshment – you can’t miss it due the St Piran flags flying from it – we should have stopped to ask if they do veggie burgers!

We hoped to finish this walk off with a short drive to Jamaica Inn for lunch… but… IT WAS CLOSED!!!!  Yes, we were shocked I tell you!  One of our most famous landmarks, which you can rely on whatever the weather or time of year… CLOSED!!!!  Yes, you read that right… CLOSED!   We wondered if it might have had something to do with the asteroid near-miss that night, but no… it turns out they now close every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday lunchtime in winter.  This makes us sad… hey ho, other pubs are available!

We sadly turned our backs on Jamaica Inn (did we mention it was CLOSED???!!!!) and headed north across the moor to our next destination, via the excellent Old Inn at St Breward where good hot veggie food was served and appreciated in front of the most wonderful roaring fire!

QUOTE:  “There’s too many thighbones!”

FOOD:  NONE.  Thanks to Jamaica Inn being CLOSED!  Until we got to St Breward when we ate like BEASTS!

Elevations:

ST BELLARMIN’S TOR: 268m (approx)

COLVANNICK TOR: 280m (approx)

 

January 15, 2013
by Sootika
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First post! King Arthur’s Butter – A trip to Butter’s Tor!

Hello!

In our effort to hike all the tors and carns of Cornwall, we thought we should document our progress and shine a moonbeam on some of the hidden wonders our county has to offer!  So, here we go!

Walking with snacks and lots of water is a must!  A map is essential, mobiles, compass and of course. Portly the red panda rucksack. Check you have all these things with you (red panda optional) and then you are ready to begin.

Walk was done on 5th January 2013 after one of the wettest years in history.

CD for the journey up:  Blackmore’s Night – The Village Lanterne.

We’ve called this walk King Arthur’s Butter and it is approximately 5 and a half miles as the crow flies, but you could easily add on another mile dodging marshes and tussocks!

Along your merry way, you will see King Arthur’s Hall, King Arthur’s downs stone circle. Cross a death defying bridge (OK maybe I am being a bit dramatic ) through to the tiniest forest known to man……well us anyway……up to Garrow To, some round houses  and around to the beast that is Butters Tor.  Oh she looks so innocent, smooth and gentle, but make no mistake, she is an untamed tussock ridden beastie!

Now first things first. Food! Here’s what we made, and mighty nommy they were. Corn wraps with salad, creamy blue cheese and a drizzle of Caesar salad dressing. We have loads and loads of fantastic pubs in Cornwall, but we like to earn our beer, so we always save that treat till the end.

wraps

Check water, food, compass, map and mobile and we’re off.

This being Cornwall we are straight onto the A30, we’re heading for the turn-for St Breward via Manor Common directly opposite Temple Tor; if you’re headed from the west then it’ll ne the LAST St Breward turn off (on the left), if you’re coming down from up that there England way then it’s the first (on you,re right, across the carriageway – carfeful now!) … and when you get to the turn off take it and you’ll be on the moors in an instant. It is a windy road, but there’s no rush, enjoy the views, see the horny cows, fluffy sheep and beautiful horses.  Park on the side of the road near De Lank Waterworks, just south of Emblance Downs – here’s a couple of maps so you know where you’re going!


View Larger Map

Before you know it here you are, and you can park up on the side, leaving room for cars to get by.

You can see the route we took (there and back, retracing our steps cos it was nearly dark!) here

Looking up to the moor you’ll see King Arthur’s Hall in the distance, so head towards that.As you get nearer it disappears but you can’t miss it when you’re there.  It’s a funny old place and conjures up images of sacrifice and rituals. Kinda spooky, but peaceful and very impressive. Have a good wonder around and then we’re off to the stone circle.

king_arthurs_hall

You have to bear  east-south-east inbetween the fields; aim for the thin line of trees to your right from the hall …here’s the map!

King Arthur’s Downs circle is near its better preserved twin, The Leaze Circle, which alas is on priviate land:(   King Arthur’s Circle is pretty ruinous, but in pretty good shape considering all that marsh water. We made some horsey friends, but didn’t bother them too much.

Now you go down the slope towards the trees and you’ll reach a stile and a sign telling you that you are allowed to go this way! What a relief hey? Else you’d have to go back!

Over the stile you hop down to the tiniest forest and then you’ll see the horror that is the scary bridge!At this point we decided to nom our food but beware. Do not eat and attempt the bridge at the same time! Could have been fatal, so put the food down and then cross the bridge very carefully keeping an eye out for trolls!

stile_1  bridge1

Through the little forest we danced, past the stile with no hedge and over the muddy mushy bit up to the path on Garrow Tor.  On our way up we saw these weird mud worms, well strange. The views on the way up are absolutely stunning so have a good look and soak up the feeling of isolation and freedom.

To your left about half way up you will see some old round houses, in a remarkable state of preservation. We reckoned that you could see the mantle piece in one, but we do have an over active imagination!

 

wupa garrow stile  another view of the roundhouse

Garrow Tor Roundhouse  creepy creepy mudworms

on garrow tor

Back to the path with you, and follow it all the way around until you see a derelict old granite cottage. What a place to live, such views and tranquility, but I don’t know who owns it, if it went on the market we would give it a go. To the right of the cottage you’ll see yet another sign. And yes, it also tells you that you can go this way,but keep to the path please! No easy thing to do when you get to the stiles and Butters Tor. As you look down from the sign you’ll see 2 bridges and that is where you are heading.  These are not scary bridges thank goodness, just wussy wooden ones.

 

Down you go, past the pretty tree, and then past the big rock, down till you get to the stile.  You’re on your own here I’m afraid.  It was so boggy when we were there we just scrambled over the best we could without falling in or loosing our boots.

rock1 tree bridge3

Again the views are mega, Brown Willy, Roughtor, Garrow Tor, it’s all here. And we saw not a soul, my kinda walk!

Cross the 2 bridges and now you’re in for a right treat.  Half soggy marsh and half tussock, designed perfectly to trip you up or break your ankle, so do take care! Isn’t mother nature fantastic, Butters Tor looked like a gentle climb,but she is a deceptive little madam. If you can find a  path, you’re a better man than us, there were a couple of permissive path pointers, but really it’s best just to head for the top. The second sign takes you around the tor, rather than the top anyway, so just keep going up and up… it’s open access land in any case.

marsh butters6 butters5 butters4 butters3

You’ll probably start asking yourself why am I doing this?  Well it’s your own fault silly! It really is worth all the effort though, so don’t give up.  The first fake top comes along, but there’s a way to go yet.  You’re at the top when you can go no further,  but look at that view.  Worth every bit of the journey!

butters1 butters2

Well done to you and to us all. Now back the way you came, and if you go in the winter you can enjoy the sunset all the way back to the car.

Pub time! You’ve earned it.

We chose the Victoria near Roche, handy for the way back home!  Open all day, every day, a really good choice of food, and always a friendly service.

Mine’s a pint of export please.   Oh and some crisps.

portly the red panda rucksack

Sit back and relax. You deserve it!