Friday, December 10, 2010
A short walk before sunset and there is just time to take a few photos of a frosty lane in mid-Devon before it gets dark again. The sunlight has melted the frost where it can but the shadows still remain frozen. The rectangle on the right hand side of the horizon in photo five is the church at Lapford, which originally dates back to the 12th century. This stone church is believed to have been built by William De Tracey as penance for his part in the murder of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a Beckett on 29th December 1170. The church was extended in the 15th century.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Well here we are again and apologies for leaving you all by a river on Dartmoor for the last two weeks. Much has changed since we started this walk: Autumn has come and gone in this time and it is most definitely Winter here now. We've even had snow here and what a pleasure it was to watch the swirling snow being blown about by the strong wind here last night.
Up on Dartmoor we follow the river Taw towards its source high on the moor, passing by some interesting gates, one of which is made from an old bedstead and has as its post a lovely piece of Dartmoor granite. We move around Belstone with its tempting pub and get to have a look at a tor from a distance with a darkening raincloud blowing in and we also see the wall known as Irishman's Wall which crosses Belstone Common at this point.
As you may see when we finally get out onto the open moor there are hardly any trees out here as most of them will not grow in these conditions and the ones that do remain very small and windbent. Oddly, even though it has hardly any trees this whole area is known as Dartmoor Forest, the reason being that the areas known as forests were actually hunting grounds for the king and these areas would cover much land including woods and also moorland without trees but they were called forests anyway. This also applies to The New Forest in Dorset/Hampsire which is mostly heathland with small amounts of woodland but is called a forest anyway, so for anyone thinking of buying one of our forests, best to check first that it actually has trees in it. Alternatively I can sell you a London Bridge for a good price.
One of the other odd things about Dartmoor is how hard it is to gauge the distance or size of anything out here, largely because there is nothing to compare anything to. A pile of rocks can be any size and likewise a hill. Without trees or buildings of any sort the eye cannot grasp the scale of anything and because the weather changes so fast things can look very far away or nearby, depending upon the current aerial perspective.
If you have keen eyes you may be able to see one of the wild Dartmoor ponies, there were quite a lot of them around and quite frisky they can be. This is as far out on the moor as we get today with our walk and we have to turn back now as the weather changes suddenly and we are caught in a very strong sideways shower of rain. There are not many places to shelter out here so I head for the river bank to hunker down and get out of the worst of it. The sheep have made themselves lots of tiny burrows under rocks and trees to get out of the weather and tempting though they look I think we better move on back to Belstone, with just a quick wave to the squaddies who are loudly shouting at each other, running up and down the hill and generally hogging the skyline.