Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tors at Belstone, Dartmoor

It is sunny when I set off on the bus for Sticklepath but the weather can change suddenly on Dartmoor so it is best to take waterproof clothing, whatever the weather looks like. Surprisingly it is still sunny when I get off the second bus and remains so for the whole day. Usually Dartmoor is covered in mists, fogs and rain and generally appears as Devons answer to Mordor, lurking darkly in the distance with its spectacular views hidden, but they won't be today.

First we must walk about half an hour to Belstone, a small village next to the moor and then we will walk around the hill on the north and west side and observe the tors from a distance so as to get the measure of them a bit. Then we shall ascend the hill at Winter Tor and then on up to about 479 Meters (1,572 feet) and back over the top of Belstone Common, stopping to look at some of the tors. That's the plan anyway.

Tor is a Celtic word meaning hill. Dartmoor is a large area of exposed granite, so all the tors are granite and we get a little bit of radon and become a little bit more radioactive for our pleasures. Tors are the result of millions of years of weathering; rain, ice, wind and water all thrown at a nice old prehistoric forest, resulting in this empty and rocky landscape. As the weathering of the tors continues, the rock is broken down into ever smaller sizes and many hillsides are covered with loose rocks, known as clitter, which has been used as a building material here for thousands of years. Eventually the granite is weathered down to a sandy gravel, known as growan, which consists of individual crystals. If you stand here long enough you can hear it happening. At least it feels that way.

Each tor has its own distinct character and presence, some are very castle like whilst others encourage an anthropomorphic response. It is sometimes difficult to believe that the shapes and balances are accidental.

On a day like today and with the right set of eyes you can see as far as the horizon, if not a bit further, and almost all the way back again. The air takes on a chill now and the wind becomes a November taste of colder winds coming. It does feel like you are flying up here, probably something to do with the Psilocybe Semilanceata that's all over the place, (not for me though) and there is the sensation of somehow being in the sky. Well, on we go, the shadows are lengthening and there are plenty more interesting and stranger looking stones to see before we get off the hill.


Penny said...

John: in a few of the pictures you have a purple/pinkish circular looking shimmer.
It is in the first 4 and the last one.
Is that moisture reflecting or something like that?
Some kind of weird refraction?

john said...

Hi Penny. It's lens flare caused by shooting into the direction of the sun. I don't really know why it's a purple colour, probably something to do with the coating of the lens. I could edit them out but its all part of the excitement I suppose.

Egypt, Who knows eh? I saw Webster Tarpley saying it was work of the CIA but these things become complicated and who knows where the pieces will land. Mubarak certainly seems unpopular in Egypt but with Us. and Is. support he has been there for a long time so why the need for change now? Unless just because it's on the table. Many such uprisings around the world appear manipulated so I become suspicious.

john said...

It's tricky though as the question arises of what a genuine people uprising would look like. Probably no global endorsement and a total demonisation in the media of the people coming into power, possibly followed by sanctions, breaking off of diplomacy, destablisation and assasinations.

I'm no expert though.

Penny said...

no need to edit them out, I thought they were neat.
Rather ethereal. Or otherworldly?
But, they do add to the pictures.
I am doing an update on Egypt,an interesting development..

john said...

Cheers Penny. Lots happening in and around Egypt. Israel does seem to be panicking a bit and events move quickly. The army now seem to have backed the people which makes Mubaraks position rather unstable to my eyes. I hope the Egyptian people get a good outcome for themselves, that would be the best thing.

I see there's a severe cyclone heading for Queensland. Droughts for years in Australia and then all the flooding and now this. I don't know who the Australians pissed off but... again I really wish them all the best.

right, I'm off again but will be back Wednesday hopefully. Cheers for now m'dears and take it steads.

reem said...

Hi ,john , I'm so glade ,youe're being here after long bad time ,I guees,so welcome back john .

It's open dartmoor land ,I think ,you've walked long time to take these photos , and I think it was hard to walk there ,across these small rocks ,I don't know this area very well ,but now I know somethings about it ,from you .thanks for that .

Nature always is apart of life in every where , in syria there is an area ,it's called Swaida ,city and many villages ,volcano's land ,

you can see fields of grapes and many farms there ,and plenty stones and black rocks ,people use them to build thier houses ,I've got search for that but i didn't find much only this link

and there is something on facebook

Al swaida

if you have a bit for a small another country , you can have a look .

hopefully the best for you .

su said...

hey john,
enjoyed this walk as well.
the snow was lovely but i have an aversion to it.
must have been a past life crimean war kind of a thing.
how are you and how is your dad?

nobody said...

Hullo John, gorgeous, all of it. And I do like your writing.

But never mind all that, what's all this about your father? Su's brought it up a couple of times but I don't recall you ever having mentioned him. And why aren't you carrying on about it like a pork chop? That's what I do.

john said...

Hi Reem and thank you very much. It was a good long walk which I enjoy very much.

It was interesting to see photos of Swaida, with the red earth and rocks it does seem quite familiar. The old town looks very beautiful too. Springtime must be very nice there by the look of it.

Thanks for the link to the oud music from a while ago too, I enjoyed that. I like ouds but don't know many players, mostly Hassan Erraji. I tried playing an oud a while ago but they are very different from the guitar which I am used to. Great if you can play them though.

john said...

Hi Su and Nobody and thanks.

As Su knows, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in about November I think. The cancer was extremely aggressive and my dad died on the 9th January. It all happened very quickly.

My dad was really strong and to see his health decline so rapidly was extremely disturbing, knowing there was nothing we could do to stop it. At the end he was aging in front of my eyes.

He was very brave, kept his sense of humour and did loads in the last few weeks of his life to sort all his affairs out and then the time ran out. A great loss.

He had a brilliant funeral, on a beautiful sunny morning after a week of rain and gales and with the first snowdrops out in the churchyard. He was buried in a high cemetery with views right the way across Dartmoor and Devon.

It's all been a really long story in a short space of time and there has been so many stories and memories and details that it all still spins around the head.

cheers for now and all the best to you

su said...

Grief will have its way.
Delighted that it did not go on in the anguish for too long.
Ah my friend, sorry you had to experience that loss.
Both my grandmothers died of pancreatic cancer.
Each moment as it comes.
Take care of thineself.

john said...

Thanks very much Su. As both of your grandmothers died of pancreatic cancer you must understand what an awful disease it is. Losing them both in this way must have been very hard for you too. I didn't want to lose him but I didn't want him to suffer for too long either.

I don't know much about medicine and disease but oddly enough this form of cancer I did know something about from reading some biographies of Bill Hicks. When my dad had his diagnosis my first thought was 'Oh no, that's what Bill Hicks died from' and I remembered how it was a very aggressive cancer, with not much chance for survival.

Everything gets taken away from us in this world, including the people we love. These are hard lessons. Thanks for your kind words Su. All the best to you and yours.

reem said...

Hi ,john ,you're welcome ,It's nice you enjoyed photos of Al swaida ,it's good to know few unknown places in this world .

OUD ,it has lovely sound ,and i think it's hard to play it ,Ahmed mukhtar ,he's one famous player and master ,you can get search about him

{everything gets taken away from us in this world} yes ,you're all right john ,I liked this words ,

have good time .

john said...

Choukran Evat and thanks for the link to Ahmed mukhtar, I will have a look at that in a bit.

I find the Oud to be similar to the violin for me, as in take away the frets and I can't play it! A beautiful instrument though.

I hope all is well where you are.

cheers for now.

nobody said...

Hello John,

I'm sorry to hear it mate. What with being myopically immersed in my own self-pitying carry-on it's sobering to be reminded that other people are going through the same and worse. It's small consolation but I'm glad that his send-off went so well.

Best to yourself and the Maid,


john said...

Cheers Nobody and thanks

This coming and going affects all of us, just at different time rates it seems. Your experience has been for a long time now, maybe a test of your patience and perseverance.

Anyway all the best to you in the ongoing.

Cheers for now and keep up the good work at your place.

reem said...

Hi ,john ,I have to apology , I've written my last comment fast ,and I didn't say sorry for Su ,I didn't mean that ,realy .

so ,can I say that now ? hopefully to accept my sorry .

john said...

That's ok Reem. I didn't notice anything to cause anyone offence. English is often a tricky thing in that words can get misinterpreted easily when they are just written, without the visual clues, and is a problem I have often noticed with my own writing.

Oh and thanks to the link to Ahmed Mukhtar, I have been enjoying his Oud playing very much. There is a little bit on youtube with him wering a natty pinstripe. I like to see people play the instruments now, it has been interesting after listening to recorded music for so many years to see some of these people actually doing their thing. I was blown away to see Sandy Denny perform on an old BBC program which is on youtuber.

thanks again and all the best to you.

john said...

Dang! I mean wearing and youtube not youtuber, obviously.

Youtuber is a video archive of root vegetables and some of the crazy things they get up too.

john said...

Ahmed Mukhtar has his own youtube channel where there is lots of him playing;

reem said...

you're always welcome john , and so glade you've enjoed your time .

still beautifull life .

john said...

I have a new guitar tune up here
new latin blue v03

Hope you enjoy.

reem said...

nice to be guitar player john ,I've enjoyed much your knew tune,it's differant and beautiful music for me ,thanks john ,mybe ,if you have one for your father ,as agift ,to remember him always ,that'll be nice .

john said...

Choukran Reem. I am glad you enjoyed the new tune, I work at them slowly and usually end up with lots of different versions.

My Dad enjoyed my guitar playing and did play the cd that I gave him recently. I was working on a new tune, written by someone else that I wanted to play for him. It was L'Voyage pour Ireland by Pierre Bensusan, but we ran out of time and I didn't get to play it for him but hopefully I will put the version up on the internet at some point. I have other new tunes I have been working on and as I am usually stuck for titles I will name one of these for him, which will be nice.

Hope all is good where you are Reem. All the best to you.