Thursday, 16 August 2012

A Mind's Eye Day Out on Dartmoor

This is to cheer me up.  It is daylight, and my breathing is still rubbish, though I have discovered my Ventolin inhaler has probably been running on 99% empty over the weekend, which does not do a lot to help control asthma . . .

So I am going to give myself the treat of a day out on Dartmoor.  OK - this is all in my mind's eye, with a little help from photographs taken on other trips, but it is better than nothing.

On a hill overlooking Widecombe-in-the-Moor,  we park the car and I sit on a boulder, warm from the sun, with a breeze streaming through my hair, and carrying the scents of the moor to me - crushed bracken and the spicey smell of Sweet Gale.  There are probably the minute scents from the small yellow flowers of Tormentil, Heath Milkwort, Heath Bedstraw (the Bedstraws smell so intense close-to - like well-made hay), Silverweed and Self-Heal and Foxgloves lingering in the valley bottoms, but these are overwhelmed by the perfumes of Heather, Ling and the intense coconut-scent of the Gorse.  I take a photograph of the view looking towards Widecombe and breath deeply.  Then we drive down into the view.

We walk past Widecombe Church, the Cathedral of the Moor.  A nearby lane is flushed with a ruby haze of Hawthorn berries.

We walk around the village.  Inside the crammed and cramped pottery is Uncle Tom Cobley's Chair  which is made from pieces of wonderfully-carved wood from a church or quite possibly a monastery which fell foul of Henry VIII.  Bits of misericords peek out from borders of ecclesiastical vernacular wooden architecture.  The fierce beasts as hand-rests are particularly fascinating . . .  We spot an old coaching horn hanging over the counter and ask about it.  Apparently it is the one which was used on the Exeter coach.  My g.g. grandfather drove the Exeter coach (though I don't know on which routes though he lived in Moretonhampstead.)  It could well be the self-same horn he used . . .

We drive on, up over the moorland hills and drop down into Postbridge, which has always been a special place for us.

It is always busy there and it is difficult to take a photograph of the ancient clapper bridge without people in it during the summer.

We dip our fingers in the Dart and head back towards Chagford.

We buy fruit from a tiny shop in the little market place and fresh bread with cheese for a moorland feast later.  For old time's sake, we indulge ourselves by looking in the Estate Agent's window and there it is . . . the house we have dreamed of, the house we have been looking for and which is just on the market, just as we have signed a contract on ours (this is a DREAM day out, by the way . . . .) 

The fawn-grey stone is soft in the photograph - the colour of a pony's muzzle.  The thatch drips down over small loft windows.  There is a huge inglenook in the kitchen with a bread oven. A deep pink rose drizzles flowers down the wall, tucking its nose under the thatch like a kitten nuzzling its mother. The garden folds around the house, protecting it from the wild moorland the other side of the bank-sided wall, which is a half-way house for garden escapees and wild flowers alike.  Harebells dance in the breeze.  We walk through the door and say, "We're interested in the cottage in the window.  Yes, that one . . .  Is it possible to view?"


  1. I love Widdecombe - haven't been for years but I have photographs of me sitting in that churchyard and your photographs brought back happy memories.
    Sorry about your breathing. Maybe when you are resettled in the hills of Devon it will improve - I do hope so.

  2. Dartmoor is an area that I don't know at all but it looks really beautiful. Maybe that cottage will turn up just as you've sold your house - you never know! Juliette has a wonderful sign up on her desk - 'Move confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined'. Worth a try anyway.

  3. Lovely post - and I too love this area of Dartmoor. So sorry to hear about your asthma - mine always seems to return when I have mislaid my inhaler! Hope yours will improve with a good blow up on the moors. xx

  4. Now I feel like I've had a day out as well. thanks--hart

  5. I could feel the warm south westerly blowing across the moor......

    Wouldn`t it be wonderful if your dream came true. That Dartmoor cottage may well be waiting for you down in the west.

  6. Your weaving of words, lyrical and burgeoning with scents and sounds, shadows and dreams create a tangible warmth and contentment... Beautifully written...

    I am drawn to and perhaps even transfixed upon the image of clapper bridge - it speaks powerfully of time, of tradition, of strength.

    I worry so over your breathing - can any headway be made on arranging a visit to a specialist or must it wait to be sought till your next scheduled generalists appointment? Either way, hope you feel a bit better somehow until some solution can be sought.

    Thinking of you ever-so-caringly

  7. Issy - I heard from the Hospital yesterday, so a Specialist's appointment is in the pipeline. The a-b's are now working, so I got a good night's sleep and have woken up able to breath. The clapper bridge is one of several such in the West Country. Took some heaving into place I bet!

    hart - Hi and welcome.

    DW - hmmm, today's south westerly breeze comes complete with torrential rain . . .

    Ann - I would be down on Dartmoor for a day out like a shot, even in today's weather, as it would cheer me up so much. My Ventolin inhaler expired on me totally the night before last and had obviously been delivering a less than useful dose prior to that . . .

    Rowan - Your daughter's desk sign has wise words. I am lucky to have already had the house of my dreams and lifestyle I wanted, but now it's redundant!

    Weaver - I am glad I brought back some happy memories for you.

  8. Lots of happy memories for me through these pics too! I went to boarding school in Tiverton (when dinasaurs still roamed the earth!) and spent a lot of time visiting the moors. And when I returned to the UK visiting family and old school friends - we spent time there again. Seeing these photos was so special - thanks for sharing. I'm back in the UK May/June next year and no doubt will be visiting the old Dart again - look forward to that! Thanks for the memories! and I hope your Asthma will improve. Hugs - Lidi

  9. Am just catching up with your posts after the London ordeal! If it's Chagford you're hoping for, I'll keep an ear out! Just let me know what you're looking for......