Thursday, 8 July 2010

Walk on Dartmoor

I am spending a few days with my parents as my dad has had a replacement hip operation.  Mornings are spent shopping and eating cheese scones, and afternoons, while my parents have a small sleep, have been for walking their dog.  My sister and her family live not far away up on Dartmoor so we have gone together, catching up, talking, putting the world to rights.

It is hard to describe the beauty of Dartmoor.  My home hills are a long high ridge, running South to North along the edge of the lush Vale of Clwyd.  While the hills are high and crowned with iron and bronze age hillforts, the land is green, or purple with heather, the tops bare but the valleys clothed in trees or grazed by sheep and cows.  Dartmoor is not much higher but bare and wild.  I love these hills too: the tors and the streams and the tiny wooded valleys with their ancient trees.


We walk up to a big curve in the stream where my sister's dog loves to swim.  He is a labradoodle, a huge dog, nearly as big as a wolfhound.  He adores water and leaps in but my parents' collie is much less struck. She sits quietly next to us while he plunges in, ears and tail waving.  It is a perfect day, warm and still and we sit on rocks and talk while the dog swims back and forth.  It would be entirely peaceful here in this big open bowl of moorland, were it not for the hugely energetic splashing of the dog as he goes by again.

"It's like sitting next to a small paddle steamer" my sister says.


Out of the water he shakes and rolls but my camera isn't fast enough to catch him.

We walk on, heading up a steep path towards Belstone Tor.  It is very hot.  My face reddens and my breath gets short.  My sister is much fitter than I am but I am supposed to be walking in the Alps next week so it would be a poor do if I couldn't get up here.  The dogs run and potter backwards and forwards, looking as though they could go for miles.

A skylark sings above us.  We get to the top of the rise and turn through a gap in the stone wall heading for the tor.  Everything is hot and still with the view shimmering away into the heat.  A tiny ripple of breeze stirs against my hot cheek.


From the top the whole of Devon stretches away into the heat haze.  


The rocks are enticing, rocks for sitting on, playing in, hiding in.


Rocks with a history and a purpose, although they don't share it with us.

We sit for a while and turn and go down.  There are children to be picked up from school, emails to check, ordinary life to be lived, but the hot, high, stillness comes down with me for a while.

23 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post. It was as if I was there with you. You described it so well. Thank you for the experience. A wonderful dog too.

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  2. It's lovely to have a "catch-up" with your sister.

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  3. High stillness sounds good, but leave me out of the hot bit please! :)

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  4. Dartmoor reminds me of childhood holidays, I loved it and dreamed of living in such a place (I grew up in London)now I live in Wales like you so have achieved that dream. I hope you have a good holiday in the Alps.

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  5. You are getting all atmospheric in your flowing and evocative descriptions, Elizabeth. But you do take us there with you. I can never think of those Tors without Peter Cushing or someone playing Sherlock Holmes and something almost as big as a wolfhound would have me jumping out of my skin in that location and looking for phosphorescent masks and people with webbed fingers and hearing screams far out upon the moor as folk sink helplessly into the mire.......

    Hope you get home safely!

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  6. Lovely, Elizabeth. I love the pictures.

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  7. I've known the word Dartmoor for many years. Now I have an experience of it.

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  8. I love watching dogs enjoying themselves in water.

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  9. Oh Elizabeth, what an evocative post. I could sit for hours and enjoy the stillness and the view. How lovely to be able to wander up there at your leisure and enjoy the beauty.
    The cheese scones sounds pretty jolly good too.

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  10. Is this the Dartmoor that is near Plymouth ?

    I was there in 2007

    From Borneo island, my photo blog is

    http://hornbill-hornbill.blogspot.com

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  11. hot, high stillness: you really do capture that feeling in your words and pictures. Such an evocative post!

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  12. Beautiful days, these summer days out in the wilds of the English countryside. What could be better.

    As you know, i miss London and the bright lights, but how much more would I miss the wonderful scenery which surrounds us.

    A good practice run for you up on Dartmoor, have fun in the Alps.

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  13. - I am a convert : ) LOVING your blog - thankyou for visiting mine because without that I would not have found yours to visit . I shall be back ! : )

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  14. Dartmoor - such a mysterious sound to the name. I loved the shot out over the moor and wished to see another one. Isn't it lovely to walk with a sister?

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  15. What a great post. It's only a good writer who can have you looking at a picture of rocks and imagining their history!!!

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  16. Having just completed Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk across England, I am passionately interested in walking in the U.K. My wife and I spent a few days walking in Dartmoor about ten years ago and enjoyed it immensely. Your article and the photos make me want to return, and, oh, do I love that labradoodle. It reminds me of my yellow lab, Derry.

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  17. It all looks so lovely and wild, Elizabeth. Yes, I wonder what those piled up rocks were all about.

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  18. So good to escape for a while with a dog...Tramp

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  19. Beautiful countryside, family and dogs - perfect. Hope your Dad's recovery goes well

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  20. Thank you for a wonderful post, - I am intrigued with the rocks and the stillness.

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  21. Those rocks are actually leftover biscuits made by giants.

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  22. Your welsh hills are so like my Peak District ones, it is uncanny. But, like you, I love Dartmoor too. My mother was born and raised in Devon and we used to go and visit my grandparents there when I was a child, so I have not only my grandmother's and mother's tales of Dartmoor but my own happy childhood memories too. It was always the streams and rivers I loved the best and hold the strongest images in my mind.

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