June 15th 2015

Fancy dining like kings and queens in France’s fabled, chateau-rich Loire valley – or living like lords and ladies, taking over an English Castle? There’s still one last chance to hike in the footsteps of French dukes, or follow the winding westcountry lanes that lead to Pentillie Castle. To make room for our portfolio of exciting new destinations for 2016, we are 'retiring' these two well-loved Walks – the Loire Valley and our stay in Pentillie Castle. Pentillie, set on the Cornish banks of the River Tamar with 55 acres of beautiful woodland gardens, was built in 1698 by Sir James Tillie, who served as land agent to the nearby estate of Sir John Coryton. When Sir John died in mysterious circumstances aged only 42, Tillie married his widow, joining the two estates and considerably improving his wealth. Peacock at Pentillie Photo: pentillie.co.uk In 1809, William Wilkins remodeled Pentillie into a commanding castle fit for its location over the Tamar Valley. Today, the estate is managed by the latest generation of the Coryton family who are keen to preserve the magic of Pentillie for centuries to come. We stay in Pentillie for all six nights of our trip, hiking out every day from the 2,000 acres of undulating land in the heart of the Tamar Valley on the Cornwall and Devon border. We tour Plymouth and see the Mayflower Steps where the Pilgrim Fathers took their last look at home shores when they embarked for the New World. We visit a magnificent Tudor mansion and hike dramatic coastal footpaths. A day on Dartmoor, includes a visit to where the movie War Horse was filmed. We stroll country estates and beautiful formal gardens and take a scenic train journey, before walking alongside the mudflats of the Tavy estuary, where avocet and curlew pause to rest and feed. And back at 'our' castle, take a stroll in the extensive gardens, formal lawns, parklands and ancient woodlands, not forgetting the romantic 'bathing hut' on the riverside. 'We’ve often wondered whether the ‘bathing hut’ was really a bathing hut… the answer is that it was probably an office or store house of some sort when the quay was one of the thriving ports on the River Tamar, transporting flowers, strawberries, tin, arsenic and lime from the Tamar Valley to the rest of the country.  ‘Office’ is not exactly romantic, and so it remains our ‘bathing hut’,' says Sammie Coryton. Saumur on the River Loire In France, a feast of châteaux, beautiful abbeys and of course, the famous river, await Wayfarers on our Walk along The Loire. Here too, we stay in grand and beautiful surroundings – and our final night is spent in style in the lovely Château De Marçay. After a gentle hike along the river we stop for a traditional lunch in an ancient limestone cave. We walk through vineyards and taste the wine. We play the old game of boules de Fort with local villagers and dine on a gourmet menu. The breathtaking abbey of Fontevraud is the final resting place of King Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine and a boat takes us on the river to Chinon, where we explore the splendid medieval fotress, where Joan of Arc met Charles VII. To take part in either of these very special autumn Walks, step over to the website and read about Pentillie Castle and The Loire.

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