Saturday, 7 April 2012

A Variety of Walks, Variable Weather and Vicarious Work

The Lakeland at Beardown
What a Holy Week! The weather has changed from summer, shirtsleeves sunshine to sleet and snow, with autumnal fog in between. Today we are back to the damp conditions that are warm enough to encourage the Spring flowers to try again.

The Curate has been unexpectedly busy as people have been unwell. There have been services every evening so I have encouraged him to get out and walk in the afternoons. We have managed to  mark off a few more Tors on our map of Dartmoor, despite the weather. 

After such a splendid walk last Sunday, Monday's destination could have been a disappointment but this wasn't the case. Dartmoor is dramatic when the weather is unsettled, the clouds roll over the hills and threaten rain and drama. The showers can be seen in advance falling on the distant Tors so it makes us quicken our pace.
We decided on Beardown - not too far from a track where we could leave the car - in case we had to make a run for shelter. Once you are above the trees there is  little protection 

from the elements on this part of the moor. 
 It is part of the army firing ranges and so it is not always accessible to walkers.                We checked that there was no firing before setting off. Almost immediately we were met by a farmer on a quad bike who told us he was bringing the sheep off the moor so he asked us to step off the track while the sheep went by. The Collie was very impressed by the working dogs - who took no notice of our pampered pets! In  the past the farmers would have been on horseback. Last year we met a farmer who had farmed the moor all his life. He reckoned he had had his first pony at the age of three and ridden down into the town when he was old enough to start school, leaving his pony at the home of a convenient aunt. Quad bikes have replaced ponies now on the farms - and they looked a pretty exciting ride!
The Tardis looking hut on the edge of Beardown was evidence of the army's use of the moor as a training area. There are signs warning you not to touch any suspicious objects - try telling The Collie that!

We were pleased that The Lakeland managed to walk with us today. While she can be reluctant to do the early morning walk these days, she still enjoys Dartmoor and continues to amaze us with her agility and determination.

We watched the clouds begin to billow up and the rain begin to fall. You can literally see the showers coming towards you on this open moorland. It was time to head back to the car.

On Wednesday there was fog so The Curate and I checked the map for unvisited tors that were not too far from a road. The fog changes the atmosphere and character of the moor into a sinister and soulless place. If it isn't blanket fog, it swirls around you and one minute there are glimpses of a watery sun and the next - you cannot see fifteen foot in front of you.  


In these the conditions the huge granite boulders and the towering tors are intimidating. We were very unadventurous and only walked across to Black's Tor. The fog cleared for a bit and we were rewarded with a view of the Meavy valley which you cannot see from the road. We walked down to the river and promised ourselves that we would walk this valley on a clearer day.
Good Friday saw the return of clearer weather and The Curate and I were up early to take our coffee and Hot Cross buns out onto the moor before the church services. Combestone Tor is the most accessible tor for visitors and the parking area was empty when we arrived. It is a great place to take less mobile visitors as you are high up and can see into the far distance - and sit in the car!! As a result of this - it gets busy and this was the case when we came down from our walk to Holne Ridge.

Horns Cross

We passed Horns Cross which was thought to mark the monks' way to Buckfast Abbey (I think). Holne moor is scattered with the remains of ancient hut circles and cairns - evidence of the past inhabitants of the moor.
The Collie in the entrance to his hut circle

Higher up there is evidence of the tin workings that used to provide employment in the area. The open cast mines are now overgrown and look like old river valleys - until you realise how many there are.                        Time for our coffee and hot cross buns and time to enjoy the space and silence (except for the skylarks that would streak suddenly upwards from the moorland in front of you -  singing their loudest songs in the clear blue skies).
And time for one last game with the rubber ball The Collie managed to find on a seemingly empty moor!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Harriet. I loved your photos and the descriptions of your hikes. What truly awesome countryside!