English Heritage. The ruins of this Norman castle are an imposing and rather handsome feature of the town, sitting upon a high mound of earth – a perfect example of a motte and bailey. It promises a short but interesting visit (30 minutes or so), and great views of the town and surrounding area. There is a small gift shop, but otherwise no facilities.
7 - Okehampton castle, Okehampton, EX20 1JA
English Heritage. This is another Norman motte and bailey castle, with more structure remaining than Launceston. Allegedly haunted, there’s plenty of atmosphere at this beautiful riverside spot, and some very pleasant local walks for good weather. A handy audio guide takes you through the main features.
National Trust. This is a small but enchanting 14th century stone farmhouse is full of character, and has a quaint cottage garden at the back. It’s little more than 3 rooms, but it’s cheap entry and has a cosy and authentic feel with some interesting information about the building. Well worth a quick visit if you’re in Tintagel.
5 - Pencarrow, Bodmin, PL30 3AG
This 50-room Georgian house is still privately owned and inhabited, and a guided tour takes you through the rooms bursting with porcelain, paintings and furniture. Better yet are the huge gardens including Iron age ruins, woodland, 50 acres of parkland and more. The grounds have a spectacular display of bluebells at the right time of year.
Originally built as an Augustinian monastery, this became a private house that has remained in the same family for 4 centuries. As well as the lavish interiors and collections, it also offers a beautiful 50 acre garden including bog areas, a fernery and 18th century walled gardens too. Many of our guests make the journey for the gardens alone. It was also the filming location for the series ‘Sense and Sensibility’ among others, and a cottage on the Hartland Abbey estate was used more recently for the BBC series ‘The Night Manager’.
3 - Tintagel Castle, Tintagel, PL34 0HE
English Heritage. Best known as the possible birthplace of King Arthur, these 13th century ruins are set upon a rocky clifftop outcrop with an even older history. As you might expect for an attraction of this age, most of it is open to the elements, but there is a shop and café. Entry isn’t cheap, but with impressive views of the coast, and a schedule of events such as historical re-enactments, this is a recommended attraction.
National Trust. A magnificent Victorian country house that will remind visitors of Downton Abbey. The kitchens and servant quarters offer a glimpse of life ‘below stairs’, while the elegant bedrooms and halls show pure luxury. There are enough indoor elements to keep you entertained on a wet day, plus the usual café and gift shop. It also boasts a huge garden and grounds with acres of parkland and countryside to explore.
National Trust. Although it’s a bit of a drive, taking our top spot, this manor house is one of the least-altered medieval buildings in the country and is arguably the most remarkable. With its displays of armour and tapestry, and network of atmospheric rooms, it’s a property that really captures the imagination. The gardens are also a delight, set on several steep levels reaching down to the River Tamar where there is a quay with old ships. You can spend the best part of a day here.