AGM Tours of Devon

From October 6-9, the International Appalachian Trail held its Annual General Meeting in Plymouth, England. The event was hosted by the South West Coast Path National Trail and included tours of the Devon countryside, including Dartmoor National Park, English Riviera Geopark, South Devon AONB, and the City of Plymouth.



The October 6 tour of Dartmoor National Park began at Bovisand Lodge Estate, where many of the AGM participants were accommodated.  From there, the group led by Dartmoor National Park Archaeologist Andy Crabbe traveled by minivan to the heart of the park where they took a 3 mile circular walk to a remote part of the moor



passing an abandoned farmstead (used in Steven Spielberg's movie Warhorse)

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Bronze Age stone rows, cairns and menhirs,

and the remains of 12th to 19th century tin mines.
After lunch the group traveled to the west of the moor to visit part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and Tamar Valley AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and to spend the afternoon at the living museum
and underground mine at Morewellham Quay.
They then returned to Plymouth via the scenic Tamar Valley railway line, which stops now and again to let roadway vehicles pass.  
The October 8 tour of English Riviera Geopark and South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was led by soil scientist Alan Stapleton and began with stops along the Geopark at Brixham
 Alan Stapleton discussing the Geopark's unique geology with Maine's Don Hudson (left) and Bill Duffy
and Paignton, location of Paignton Geoplay Park  
and Paignton Pier.
It was followed by a tour of Kents Cavern prehistoric caves at Torquay.
From Torquay it was on to Dartmouth in South Devon AONB to visit the Newcomen Engine House, home to one of Thomas Newcomen's Atmospheric (steam) engines manufactured in the early 18th century.
A delicious late lunch was had at remote and scenic Gara Rock Hotel 
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followed by walks along the coast at Gara Rock and Prawle Point
 Looking east from Prawle Point
led by enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides Dani Wootton (Devon Finds Liaison Officer) and Marc Hoskins (National Trust South Devon Ranger).
The final tour, on October 9, was a joint IAT/National Trails walking tour of Plymouth Sound and the old city of Plymouth, led by the Plymotion Project's Andrew Thompson and beginning with a Cremyll Ferry ride across the Tamar to the "country" of Cornwall.
From there, a short minibus drive brought the walkers to the quaint fishing village of Cawsand
where they began their walk through Mount Edgcumbe Country Park.
Once through the park, the group returned to Plymouth by way of Cremyll Ferry, landing at historic Royal William Yard where they had lunch with the Lord Mayor and his wife.
After lunch it was off to Plymouth Hoe, location of the Sir Francis Drake Statue and various war memorials 
(left to right)  Plymouth War Memorial, Naval Memorial, and Air Force Memorial
as well as Smeaton's Tower, the third Eddystone Lighthouse which the group climbed to its 24 candles.
After the Hoe, a walk around the Royal Citadel
led to the Barbican
and Mayflower Steps, where the Mayflower Pilgrims set sail for the New World in 1620.
 The Mayflower Steps (at center) and National Marine Aquarium (far right)
Last but not least, the final stop of the October 9 walking tour and 2014 IAT AGM was the Plymouth Gin Distillery.  Let the parting begin!!
Cheers to Andy Crabbe, Alan Stapleton, Dani Wootton, Marc Hoskins, and Andrew Thompson for three great days of AGM Tours.  And a special toast to Mark Owen of the South West Coast Path National Trail for putting the 4-day Annual General Meeting together.  It was a hard act to follow!