On the Trail of Russell and Holmes, Or The Best Trip Ever (2)
Friend of Russell Meredith continues her May trip to England…
Dartmoor and Lew Trenchard, Part 2
On that first evening, we kept going on one of the major roads and stopped at Two Bridges. MOOR says Russell and Holmes stopped at “an inn” with a Saracen’s Head in Two Bridges. There was no Saracen’s Head and only one inn that we found. It’s actually a hotel; it was delightful and I’d like to stay in it sometime. It has a good-sized front room, dark wood, and capacious leather couches with big fat pillows. In honor of Russell playing the penny whistle and drinking waaay too much Devonshire zyder, I had some cider and Dave took a snap. Note book in lap, the mass market paperback of MOOR in the era of Russell-in-dressing gown on the cover.
The next morning I extended my ablutions and Dave used the time to run into Tavistock and track down an Ordnance Survey map of the area; OL 28. It’s 2.5 inches to one mile. This was solid gold. We tried to figure out a not-too-long walk off the road and into Russell-land. My sometimes unreliable knees had been performing well but I didn’t want to push it. We found a walk to Wistman’s Wood, which is described as a “strange bent and twisted forest;” it actually was on the map. Unfortunately, in thirty minutes of walking we were only half way along; if you go to twelve o’clock on the photo and drop straight down, the trees are Wistman’s Wood. Dave also introduced me to the idea of “SW”s, Serious Walkers, folks with knapsacks, walking sticks, etc. About six SWs passed us. Rapidly.
I had rung Lew Trenchard House from the States to book tea and was impressed with how friendly and accommodating they were. Lew Trenchard House is gone, Lewtrenchard Manor House Hotel reigns in its stead. If you go to a search engine you will find a website for the place as well as various related items. Check out the article in the Telegraph, which mentions the superb service and that parts of the place need renovation.
I was therefore expecting a situation I’ve seen in some National Trust properties: interesting house, dark and spacious interior smelling slightly of mold, important furniture not in good shape.
Well, throw those ideas right out of your head. The interiors we visited had been kept in impeccable condition. The outside is spectacular, including expansive and beautiful grounds which in Russell’s day were overgrown with weeds. I’d never quite understood how a gooseherd could be a fountain. See photo; it’s a statue of a chap holding geese under each arm and they are spitting out the water. Sounds unsanitary and looks quite lovely. The exterior of the place looks huge but the inside is almost cozy, at least the bits I saw.
In June 2009 Alice Wright and Merrily Taylor (no relation) generated a substantial Blog on Mutterings and listed items in the Gallery of the VBC with first rate pictures of Lew Trenchard, so I also refer you to those. (Was I tipsy while taking photos? One wonders.) In the covered front porch Alice and Merrily found a collection of (damp?) umbrellas. In turn, we saw about eight pair of brand new Wellingtons, neatly lined up. (sorry, no picture) Russell would have been so pleased not to have to scrub off the mildew.