Castle Drogo

Sunshine helps, but Dartmoor is a beautiful place, whatever the weather. Today, spinning along the lanes and over the rolling hills, the hedgerows were blazing with sunny daffs, blackthorn fizzed in the hedgerows, and the granite moors stood out on the horizon, less menacingly than on a bleak winter’s day. We were headed for Castle Drogo, wielding our National Trust cards (so establishment, I know), mesmerised by the dramatic Teign Valley and looking forward to a cream tea in the cafe.

Castle Drogo is supposed to be the last castle to be built in England, around a century ago. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, it was an uber-ambitious project that was never finished to its original plans but that is stunning and extraordinary nevertheless. It is a wild mix of Medieval and Arts and Crafts, grandeur and intimacy, with ambitious ‘modern’ plumbing and electricity powered by the Teign. Family portraits hang all around as well as exquisite tapestries, but what stays in the mind is the poignant shrine to a beloved son killed in action in Ypres.

If you are anywhere near the A30, go and see it. Have a stroll round the formal gardens, marvel at the view and the dreams of a family who had the vision to do such a daring thing. Explore this modern castle with its home comforts that include a throne of a loo. Be uplifted. Be inspired. And have a scone. Cream first, then jam, obviously. This isn’t Cornwall…