Christmas 2023 Newsletter

Happy Christmas to all friends of Okel Tor Mine

August 2023 saw the first change of ownership of the mine since Greg and Nick bought it as ruin 25 years ago. We feel privileged and excited to take over stewardship of such a special place and are indebted to both Nick and Greg for their hard work and determination in making the mine such a wonderful place to stay, as owners or guests.

We arrived on a Friday in August, chosen because it was a change-over day for both The Smithy and The Count House and would therefore not disturb guests. It did mean, however, that our first guests arrived just an hour after the removal vans had left. Talk about hitting the ground running! Both cottages have been occupied every day since so our learning curve has been steep but rewarding – we don’t regret a moment of it. This is largely due to the lovely guests we have enjoyed hosting, who have all been a pleasure to meet and have treated us gently! A huge thank you to everyone for your good company, humour and encouragement. It was a pleasant surprise to learn how many guests had been visiting Okel Tor Mine for years, and to see those visiting us for the first time begin their own tradition by booking again for 2024.

We have also enjoyed meeting other residents of the mine and surrounding area. Feathered residents include an abundance of owls, both tawny and barn, (is that a parliament?) buzzards and kingfishers, together with the increasing number of species visiting the wetlands reserve. The Calstock Wetlands Bird Watchers Group has an excellent Facebook page and we’re grateful to them for helping us appreciate a wigeon and a green winged teal are not just “ducks”!

The human residents of Harewood and Calstock have been universally welcoming. A particular pleasure has been getting to know Ian Richards, owner of the magnificent steam launch Isambard, and his partner Jane. Isambard appeared in an Okel Tor Mine Facebook post back in September and we have enjoyed a trip up to Morwellham Quay under steam power. It was also enjoyable helping the Calstock Rowing Club with their annual regatta and getting to know some of the club members. We both sail, row and kayak, so are looking forward to more time on the river in 2024.

Friends of Okel Tor Mine will, we hope, be pleased to learn we don’t plan any major changes, just an ongoing programme of refurbishment and maintenance to keep everything up to scratch. We’re also working with Historic England and Tamar Valley AONB (now Tamar Valley National Landscape) to preserve and manage the mine ruins and wildlife reserve. Plans for 2024 include replacing the boardwalks, viewing platform and interpretation boards, and continuing the ongoing gorse and tree management around the buildings.

Many of you will have been used to corresponding with Greg regarding bookings. Following a comprehensive mentoring and hand-over period we have now assumed responsibility for online bookings and marketing and hope to continue his professional and thorough approach.

So an exciting and busy 2024 awaits us. We look forward to welcoming guests old and new to this special place.

Very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Jon and Jenny


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