RED ROUTE – Follow the red markers up to the right from the car park to the front of Sharpham House (1) and then through the gate on your left leading into the vineyard. The red marker posts continue down through the vineyard and turn right at the pine tree (2). Once on the quay (4) you can choose to link up with the ‘Blue Route’ or retrace your steps the way you came.
BLUE ROUTE – Follow this route by going over the stile in the car park, over the next stile and following the blue markers along the fence. Enter the vineyard through the kissing gate and follow the blue markers to the quay (4). The route then returns along the river (5 & 6) and back to the winery.
PURPLE ROUTE – Links Red and Blue routes allowing visitors to see different grape varieties.
(1) SHARPHAM HOUSE AND VINEYARD ENTRANCE. The house was built between 1770 & 1824 with monies from Capt. Pownall’s capture of the Spanish vessel Hermione in 1762. Designed by architect Sir Robert Taylor, the house features Palladian detailing and a grand elliptical staircase. The impressive sculpture nearby is by Jacob Lane and represents a butterfly chrysalis hanging by its silken thread.
(2) THE PINE TREE. At this point you are given a choice. Those interested in seeing more vines including red varieties should take the purple route. Alternatively, the red route drops down to your right through a row of vines and takes you firstly to the lake and then along he river-bank.
(3) THE LAKE. Another of Jacob Lane’s sculptures, Seven Stones, is situated in this idyllic spot. This sculpture was was inspired by the primitive phallic & fertility symbols to be found throughout the Celtic west.
(4) THE QUAY. The quay was built to enable the landing of the Portland stone used in the construction of Sharpham House. The cylindrical building amongst the trees is a lime kiln. The crushed lime ore was burnt to a powder to provide a soil improver for local farms.
(5) WATER MEADOW. Wildlife is on abundance on this frequently flooded stretch of land. Why not sit a while and see what you can spot? Look out for shelduck, eider, black headed gulls, coots, egrets, herons, cormorants, Canada geese, woodpeckers, tree creepers, buzzards, peregrine falcons, rabbits, badgers, Atlantic grey seals…
(6) VOLCANIC TUFF. These huge rocks are a volcanic outcrop or ‘tuff’ – fully dormant of course! On the opposite bank is the wreck of the SS Kingswear Castle. Once the largest paddle steamer on the river, its eighty-year-old engines still survive in another working boat on the Medway in Kent. SS Kingswear Castle was scuppered many tears ago and is now just a perch for the herons.