8. Dartmoor

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Southwest England 2005

For those who are familiar with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, you probably remember one of his famous cases, “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. The story was set on foggy Dartmoor in the middle of Devon. Dartmoor is said to be “a vast wilderness where you do not want to get lost, and the weather there can be unpredictable.”

Luckily, we had good weather. Along the two-way Devon lanes…
…Peter drove us to Dartmoor National Park, 15km to the west of Cockwood.
So ‘moor’ was one of the two new words I learned that day. It means a tract of open, peaty, wasteland, often overgrown with heath, common in high latitudes and altitudes where drainage is poor.
But instead of the legendary black hound, we saw only horses and ponies on the moor.
One of them was particularly interested in our car.

We visited Hound Tor in the morning. Here was the other new word I learned&mdash‘tor’, a high rock or pile of rocks on the top of a hill. There were plenty of tors on Dartmoor.

We had lunch at the Old Inn in the village of Widecombe.

The center of the village was marked by a cathedral with a cemetery at the back. I learned that the reason churches usually had a high tower was that people could see it from far away, which was very useful for orientation in a place like Dartmoor.

After lunch, we had a look around…
…and listened to Peter telling stories of the place…
…while a pony was drinking milk from his mother on the lawn.

The first stop in the afternoon was Postbridge, a village at the center of Dartmoor. There was a clapper bridge constructed from four large granite slabs supported by three granite piers. Clapper bridges were built in 13th and 14th centuries and are typical on Dartmoor due to the large number of little rivers.
Just twenty meters from the clapper bridge was the main road bridge built in 1780.
Many children were playing in the river between the two bridges, adding some poetic flavor to the scenary.
It was here I created “the water painting of the sun”.

The next stop was Dartmeet, where the east and west branches of River Dart meet in steep, wooded valley.
The water was clear and the reflection was beautiful.

But what you don’t see on pictures was that Peter bought ice creams for each of us and that we enjoyed it like little children.

The last stop was Haytor, another well known tor on the moor. We left the car at the foot of the hill and climbed up.
There were two piles of rocks on the top of the hill.
The west pile was easier to climb, but it was very windy up there. I was trying hard not to be blown away when S took this picture of me standing on the edge of the rock.
From the top of the rock, we had a grand panorama view of the moor.

[Photography © August 10th 2005 Les Nuages unless marked]

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