Last week we were away in north Cornwall, staying at Helsbury Park for the third time in nearly as many years, when the weather turned delectably still, dry and cold. For a whole week the landscape glittered under crystal clear skies. For both humans and dogs it was holiday heaven.
Mornings dawned with the promise of deepening frosts and mysteriously swirling river mists.
With 100 acres of livestock-free pasture and woodland, plus a mile of riverbanks waiting to be explored our early morning walks got off to a good start from day one.
Three award winning self-catering properties sit at the top of a combe overlooking the Camel valley and to the east the source of the river, Bodmin Moor. Jaw-dropping dropping views equal exposure to the elements, at this time of year that usually means howling gales sweeping in from the Altlantic ocean. I admit, on blustery days I’d be quite happy to take in the panoramic views from the comfort of the fireside sofa in the company of a good book. However, this year the conditions were so alluring that I found myself first at the door and heaving on my wellies without the usual grimace.
The walks are pleasingly circular. Parallel farm tracks lead you down to the bottom of the valley and adjoining woodland, then back again. Centre point is a pond.
This is one of my favourite places from which to marvel at the vision of the owners who have gone to great lengths to develop this site while still preserving its inherent natural beauty.
The pool building with its green sedum roof is beautifully designed to nestle into the lee of the land. Three sides are built into the slope, while the fourth’s glazing is etched with a map of the winding river which is, undoubtably, the genie in the bottle of this special place.
Grand designs like this are one thing, yet, to my mind a sense of harmony relies on a multitude of smaller details, many of which are easily overlooked when making a garden. I find lots of inspiration here, be it from the choice of local materials – some modern, many reclaimed – to the pared back gardens that blend with the landscape and lead the eye to the views beyond. I particularly like the forest of irregularly shaped staddle stones punctuating the gravel garden beside the cobbled drive.
Setting aside my thoughts about why the modern landscaping works so well with its setting, here are just a few of the things that make early morning walkies here such a very special treat
A bench from which to watch the dogs splash about in the river, the bank is shelved to allow easy access.
Sniff (and stick) rich woodland speaks for itself.
Hillsides drenched in golden light while below them in their shade lay the most marvellous expanse of icy meadow.
Who knew Juncus effusus, the lowly soft rush, could look so stunning?
Not only did we leave with wistful sighs, we left with mud free paws and wellies too 😉.