The Bere Peninsula, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is almost totally enclosed by the Tamar and Tavy rivers which come close to creating an island. Thus isolated, with only one main road serving the villages of Bere Alston and Bere Ferrers, it has remained a tranquil and hidden backwater despite being within sight of Plymouth.
A bastion of mining activity since mediaeval times with its heyday in the 19th century, famous for its cherry blossoms visited by Queen Victoria, it became a centre for market gardening producing early flowers and fruit sent by train to London and throughout UK. This trade had declined by mid twentieth century in part through disruption caused by WWII and later competition from abroad. The peninsula then returned to arable and pasture land but in springtime the hedgerows are yellow with daffodils a legacy which harks back to when the fields were turned over from flowers to food-growing during the war and redundant daffodil bulbs thrown into the hedge banks.
With the growth in recreational pursuits, sailing and water-based activities have become popular pastimes and are an ideal way of exploring the rivers and estuaries which reveal glimpses of wildlife amongst the saltmarshes, lime kilns along the banks and mining relics amongst the trees.
If you want to keep your feet on the ground the area offers artists, naturalists and ramblers stunning river views all year round from a network of footpaths. From November to March rare birds overwinter in the Tamar estuary; bird lovers can watch graceful avocets stalking the mudflats and may be lucky and glimpse spoonbills in the wetlands.
For visitors staying at North Hooe a short walk from the farm lane along Hanging Cliff Wood brings you down to the estuary and the pretty hamlets of Holes Hole and Weir Quay, once the preserve of noisy smelting works and now tranquil home to sailing and gig clubs and boatyard moorings where a host of halyards tinkle in the breeze.
From the farm's northern boundary a footpath takes you along the Tamar upstream to the impressive viaduct which links the charming Cornish fishing village of Calstock via the scenic Tamar Valley Line to the peninsula and on to Plymouth. You can complete the circular walk around the peninsula or if you are a strong walker, continue north along some of the thirty five mile route of the Tamar Valley AONB Discovery Trail.
Further upstream from Calstock lies the historic river port of Morwellham Quay from where Devon Great Consuls, Europe's largest copper producers, exported their ore. Nowadays it is a living museum whose highlight arguably is the narrow gauge railway guided trip through a section of the former George and Charlotte mine which provides a striking impression of the hardships of a miner's life and work.
To the East of the peninsula you can cross the Tavy at low tide at Lopwell Dam an idyllic nature reserve where the café on the further bank provides an excellent base for refuelling, birdwatching and walking.
The nearest village to North Hooe is Bere Alston (1¾ miles) which offers two small supermarkets, a butcher’s, Post Office incorporating local bakery and general store, doctor’s, chemist’s, two cafes, takeaway, drinks-only pub, railway station and more.
Bere Ferrers, a 3 mile walk from North Hooe is a long sleepy one-street village with a friendly pub (see Eating out) and railway station. The village overlooks the wide estuary of the River Tavy before it joins the Tamar flowing into the Hamoaze in Plymouth.
Nestled in its own peaceful backwater the Bere Peninsula offers its guests a retreat little more than a stone's throw from the city.
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