Author Archive for Gill Bridges – Page 4


Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

STOP PRESS – Friday 18 Feb 2011 - Join our STOP THE MAST Facebook Campaign

Network Rail equipment cabin - road safety hazard

We hear Network Rail have moved their crews up north and are temporarily halting work in Cornwall…………. But we are not running out of steam! We raised questions at Cabinet Council meeting on Tuesday. Portfolio Holders for Planning and Transport are “shocked” to see the photos of what is happening at Sandplace Station. Legal opinions being sought.

Onsite visit from Highways regarding road safety issues created by the placement of this gross equipment cabin which obstructs the views of motorists travelling north on the B3254 heading towards a narrow bend over a walled bridge (a 60 mph road with no footpath).

So it’s OK to look after your passengers on the train is it Network Rail but when they exit your station, you don’t care if they get run over by a car?? School children and regular bus users stand here and have to step out into the path of oncoming traffic to cross the road or flag the bus down……….. 

We also met with the Campaign for Rural England and received phone calls from residents in Calstock who are just beginning to learn that masts are going up along the Tamar in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a World Heritage Site.  Where are the planning rules to protect us?? If you love the countryside, and treasure all the assets we have in rural Cornwall, please show your support on our  STOP THE MAST Facebook campaign. 

Friday 4 Feb 2011
A breakthrough was achieved at today’s meeting Friday 4 Feb. Who would have thought a little community like Sandplace could stop Network Rail in its tracks!! But yes, after a well presented argument by local residents and with the backing of MP Sheryll Murray, and support of Councillors Armand Toms and Richard Pugh, we’ve succeeded in getting Network Rail to agree to a temporary stop on any further work on the Sandplace Mast until the matter is taken up with the Secretary of Transport.  

At Perranwell the mast appeared “out of the blue”


It’s still a tough battle as we’re challenging Network Rail’s interpretation of an EU directive! But if a Portsmouth pub landlady can convince European legal opinion that Sky has no legal right to stop people using cheaper non-UK decoders to watch the footie on the TV, then the residents of Sandplace can take on Network Rail. A small victory for democracy today. But we’ve only won the battle – not the war…………..    

Please like our Facebook page STOP THE MAST AT SANDPLACE and share with your friends.  Thank you.  

Like our Stop the Mast at Sandplace Facebook page: 

I don’t write my blog as often as I should and the last one was about the wonderful Steam Train event in September on the Looe Valley Line.   How tragic today that I am writing about the erection of an 82 foot communications mast which is being built as we speak at Sandplace Station to deface our lovely valley.   How would you like to wake up to find Network Rail have started work on erecting an 82 foot communications mast towering into the sky with no warning of any kind? 

Sitting next to a scenic single track branch line in South East Cornwall, our little community at Sandplace is fighting the imminent arrival of a 25 metre communications mast being erected as we speak by Network Rail yards from our homes – a metal latticed column towering 82 feet into the sky, news of which only became known to local residents following a passing conversation with the onsite construction team last week. Network Rail have blamed an administrative error for  not consulting or informing us but sadly, press articles from across the country show similar experiences of riding rough shod over local residents as Network Rail have used stealth tactics to roll out 2200 masts as part of their Rail Communication System – part of an EU directive to improve communication and avoid high speed train collisions. 

The Looe Valley Line – a single train travelling at 30 mph on a single track – yes and I can hear many of you saying with a single passenger on board!! You may well ask ‘What about planning permission?’ Well Network Rail apparently can legally bypass all planning processes (and public consultation) by flouting the privilege they enjoy under their Permitted Development Rights.   How relevant can this project be to our lovely Looe Valley line? How much government money (our money) is being squandered on this communication technology on a scenic single track branch line with a 30 mph limit, marketed as the ‘Scenic Looe Valley Line’ while we are all being told to tighten our belts at a time of spending restraint? 

We have gone to the Secretary of Transport to try and stop Network Rail in its tracks but as I write this,  they work into the night under arc lights to steam roll ahead in order to place this carbuncle on our beautiful Looe Valley – designated an Area of Great Landscape Value – and complete it before we can do anything about it! Please join our Facebook campaign. And halt this! 

 Network Rail has finally agreed to attend a meeting on Friday and we are still hopeful to get the site repositioned or better still, common sense will prevail and the logic of implementing this EU directed technology on this line will be considered with cost efficiency in mind rather than blind implementation!

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Steam trains on the Looe Valley Line in September

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Victorian Railway Fayre at Polraen in the Looe ValleySteam trains return to the Looe Valley Line on 19th and 26th September, commemorating 150 years of the Looe Branch Line and the 175th Anniversary of the Great Western Railway. We’re thrilled to have chance to see them passing Polraen Country House four times each Sunday. It will be the first time since 1961 that steam trains have travelled on the line between Liskeard and Looe .

The Looe Valley Explorer trains will feature steam locomotive GWR designed Hawksworth Pannier Tank No. 9466 hauling in one direction and a classic  1960’s English electric Type 3 (Class 37)  diesel in the other. The four departures on the two consecutive Sundays 19th and 26th September, will leave Liskeard at 10.50, 12.55, 14.55 and 17.10 stopping at Looe for approximately 10 minutes. Return tickets are £25 each with further details available from Vintage Trains including booking information. 

Victorian GirlsCelebrations to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Looe Valley Line will also be centred around the weekend of 11 and 12 September when a variety of events get underway with a Victorian fare, organized walks, a real ale trail and much, much more. It reminds me fondly of the time about 7 or 8 years ago when we held a Victorian Fayre in our garden to celebrate one of the railway centenary events.

If you are looking for accommodation, B&B rates at Polraen are from £82 per room per night.

A Wonderful Wedding near Looe

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Polraen Conservatory - wedding receptionLast Saturday 3rd July, the wedding reception held at Polraen Country House show-cased the magical wedding venue we have here in the Looe Valley.

The afternoon garden party for 40 guests was followed by an early evening barbecue for 75. “A reception that was relaxed, fun, and with a country house informality” is what the bride and groom wanted. They had arranged for Plymouth’s top indie band ‘Joker’ to provide the live entertainment and they were absolutely brilliant, playing cover versions of Oasis through to the Kings of Leon and Kasabian. There was also a ‘Rodeo Bull’ ride to keep the children happy, although a few of the adults entered the spirit of things and had a go.

The garden looked fantastic, the sun shone, the conservatory was transformed into a beautiful wedding room decked out with  flowers and cotton bunting. The finger food buffet included pixie cornish pasties, and a Cornish cheese board with plenty of choice for vegetarians. This was followed by a meat eaters feast featuring Cornish reared meat including  sirloin steaks, chicken thighs, and butchers sausages, complimented with a flavour from the sea – delicious king prawn skewers.

Wedding Reception at Polraen Country House LooeWedding Buffet at PolraenJust in case of rain, the bride and groom had erected a small marquee over the patio interconnecting with the conservatory, but there was no need…… the odd grey cloud passed over and the sun shone into the evening as the live band played on – we felt as if we were enjoying our own mini Glastonbury!

Wedding Buffet at Polraen LooeIn fact the band were dead impressed with our venue as there is a natural stage in the garden on the raised terrace above the flower beds, the acoustics in the valley were amazing and access via a separate drive in the garden allowed the entertainment to unload and set up their equipment without any inconvenience or hassle.

Hopefully we’ll have similar weather in two weeks time when we are hosting a 50th Birthday party………..

Daphne du Maurier Festival 2010

Monday, May 10th, 2010


The Daphne du Maurier Festival in Fowey begins on Thursday 13th May and runs until Sat 22nd May. For me, it heralds the start of our amazing season of festivals in South East Cornwall

Accommodation in Fowey can frequently get booked up well in advance so if you are still looking for a room, consider us at Polraen Country House (more details below) but back to the festival. … a celebration of Art and Literature now in its 10th year, the Dumaurier Festival is a most entertaining and eclectic programme of music, comedy, art, drama, recitals, sculpture,  etc etc, both free and by ticket. A myriad of events are held in festival marquees, village halls, libraries and colleges in and around Fowey and the festival manages to combine local traditions and communities alongside the famous names.  This year’s line up includes  names as diverse as Pam Ayres, Julian Lloyd Webber and The Stranglers! Tickets are now available through an online box office.

If you’re having any difficulty finding accommodaton in Fowey,  it’s easy driving distance (about 20-25 minutes) to the festival from our location at Sandplace in the Looe Valley. From Looe, you can  drive to the village of Polruan on the east side of the Fowey River, park up and catch the passenger ferry across. If you prefer to take the car across the river and park in Fowey, you can use the Bodinnick Car Ferry. Either way, you’ll more than halve the round trip journey compared to going on the A38.  Check availability to see what rooms we have left during the DuMaurier Festival.

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National Powerboat Racing in Looe May 2010

Thursday, May 6th, 2010
National Powerboat Racing Championships Looe

National Powerboat Racing Championships Looe

Looe is once again the venue for the National Powerboat Racing Championships this coming weekend May 8 and 9.  An amazing array of classes compete in Looe Bay just off the harbour mouth. There’s great viewing from either East Looe Beach or better still, from West Looe around at Hannafore.  

At Polraen Country House, we can offer guests free parking for a boat and trailer (please advise when booking your room).We are boat owners ourselves and find it a very easy 5 minute drive from the hotel at Sandplace along the Looe Valley into town to launch from the public slipway in the Millpool Car Park in West Looe. Very few hotels or bed and breakfast places can offer accommodation with onsite parking for a boat in Looe. So if you’re still looking for a place to stay, we have just one double ensuite room left this weekend – if you want to book it and bring your boat so you can watch the powerboat racing from the water, you can have off road parking in a quiet location for free enjoying – ‘a Grand Prix like atmosphere at a fraction of the cost’.

A Looe Valley Walk in Spring, South East Cornwall

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Bluebells Looe Valley Walks

This roundtrip Looe Valley walk starting at Polraen Country House at Sandplace has been updated in March 2014 (see below).  The original blog was posted in Spring 2010:

“I set off  walking this morning from Polraen Hotel, up the Looe Valley to Sandplace Station with our black labrador May, and ended up having one of those walks that makes you happy to be alive! Continuing along the lane toward Tregarland Bridge, we veered off on a public footpath above the Looe Valley railway line, stumbled across two courting ducks and strolled along the track above the Looe River with wild garlic brushing our ankles.

After about half an hour walking along the track in the valley bottom next to the river, I intended to stop at Lower Wringworthy, but it was a lovely morning so I continued on a circular walk, finally emerging on the main road heading back through Morval. Then we headed down past Tregarland Farm back into the Looe Valley.  The views down onto the valley below are stunning, looking beyond inquisitive cows to fields of sheep grazing at Morval Barton Farm.  We continued past John and Val’s cottage (John grows flowers and soft fruits for our hotel), and we headed back down to the valley bottom to join the B3254 past Sandplace Station back to Polraen.

Looe Valley Walks with a dog

Looe Valley Walks with a dogAll in all, a one hour walk which lifted the spirits and made me so happy to be living in South East Cornwall. The dog thought it was a treat too! It’s not often I get the time to do what our guests can do from our doorstep at Polraen! But walking in the Looe Valley is good for the soul!!

Following recent storms, spring days are being warmed by lots of sunshine, and the hedgerows in the Looe Valley are stunning.  With an extended flowering season, the daffodils and primroses are vying for attention along the roadside while carpets of bluebells will soon be appearing on the wooded slopes. Pink and white campions and violets peep from the grassy banks and the first signs of cherry blossom are showing on the trees.

At Polraen, we like to help guests explore without the car lending them maps and providing public transport information for the bus and Looe Valley train. There’s a range of walks accessible from the stations along the railway line in a handy ‘Trails from the Track’ pack published by the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership. Spring is one of the best times to visit.”

3 for 2 offer on Short Breaks in Looe

If you need accommodation, our 3 nights for the price of 2 offer at Polraen Country House at Sandplace in the Looe Valley, is valid until 5 April 2014 with a 3 night spring break from just £80 pp including breakfast. Click HERE to Call: 01503 263956

Book your room at Polraen online now


2014 update: Following recent storms, YOU MUST NOW WEAR WELLIES and be prepared to wade in shallow flowing water in two or three sections between Plashford and Lower Wringworthy where the stream has adopted the traditional footpath as its water course. There are lots of Looe Valley Walks but this one is off the beaten track and worth the effort!! Takes about 1 to 1 and a half hours depending on walking speed but it’s still a fantastic walk, particularly in spring. You can easily reach it by taking either the bus or train out of Looe along Sandplace Road and alighting at Sandplace Station on the Looe Valley Line. Timetables are available to download from our website.


New Website for Polraen Country House Hotel

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Polraen Country House Hotel has a new website!

Gill and Martin in the Polraen Country House barWelcome and thank you for visiting our new website.

February 18th marked our 10th anniversary of living here in Looe and we felt it was high time to revamp our website so here it is, the new website complete with our first blog – ever!

We wanted the new website to reflect the many improvements we’ve undertaken here at the hotel over the last 10 years. If you’ve stayed with us before but not recently, you’ll see that we now have a wonderful conservatory, the garden has been landscaped and the bedrooms have been upgraded. The new facilities not only offer a more spacious experience for our hotel guests but we are also receiviing many requests for weddings, and functions with such a lovely garden as a backdrop. Read More→

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