Monday, September 11, 2006

DARTMOOR

DARTMOOR
“The last great wilderness in Southern England.”

For the last week, home has been Garden Cottage – a thatched, granite, Devon longhouse which has been dated by archaeologists as 13C.  A longhouse is a single storey building consisting of three rooms and a cross passage (although it seemed quite amiable to us.  Sorry!)  Our living room would have been the ‘hall room’ the kitchen and bathroom the ‘inner room’ and the two bedrooms were the ‘shippon’ which housed the cattle.  The cattle would be tethered from the wall with an open drainage channel down the centre.  Lying in the four-poster in the dark one imagined one could feel the friendly spirits of the animals.

The owners John and Maureen had made the cottage charming – beautifully presented – a great pile of logs, umbrellas in the hall and hotties in the wardrobe. (OK Hoss that is a hot-water bottle.)  Little touches like a plug, a mirror and a stool the right height so one could blow- dry one’s hair in comfort – dryer provided- was a rare touch of genius.  The cottage had a small garden but John and Maureen allowed us to use theirs which had a petanque court and an arbour which was the perfect spot for meditation, overlooking a pool.  Their dog Poppy and five cats were friendly but were not allowed to invade the cottage.

We were just a 100 yards from the open moor and wandering one evening I realised the dangers of wandering in a mist as a grassy meadow suddenly gave way to a steep escarpment.  Thankfully it was quite clear at the time.  The mood of the moor can change in an instant and the rule is – never wander without a compass, map and mobile phone and let someone know where you are going.

The village of Belstone had a church, a pub, village green and a post office.  In the church MTL and I each had a fright as something brushed against my leg as I was deep in reverie ( I thought I’d had a Divine Visitation) and MTL had it jump on his knee – the Belstone cat that is.  The pub – the Three Tors is like a Tardis – looks quite small but goes back forever and serves good food including ‘Tomato and Basil’ sandwiches, which reminded me of Aunty Marianne.  By the way it was great to hear Zoë and the Twat on Radio 4.  They both sounded jolly and nice.

Okehampton is within easy reach and they are rightly proud of their Waitrose Store.  Food was not a problem except that we ate too much so I tried to get some walking in often leaving MTL as anchor man.  This would have worked better if I had remembered to take a phone.  I had to get a photo of one of the Tors which meant getting up close and personal on the Moor.  On a glorious day I reached one where I could see Plymouth Sound and the rivers Tamar and Tavy.  This was a blessing because when I reach a goal I get excited and scamper round – lose my bearings and take the wrong path.

We saw the Two Bridges Hotel where Vivien Leigh was said to have ‘naughty week-ends’ and lunched at the Dartmoor Inn which is close to Merivale Rows or the Plague Market.  This is where farmers left their produce to be collected by the people from ‘plague ridden Tavistock’ in 1625.  I love the way the moor looms up on the horizon – sometimes menacing and ominous and sometimes inviting you to explore the most glorious playground.  I love Exmoor but Dartmoor has that ‘mean, moody and magnificent’ demeanour.

16 comments:

Sim said...

I love Dartmoor at this time of year - Girlpants and I love to cycle past the prison and along the old train tracks towards Sheeptors. The Dartmoor mist lies over the Burrator as if it's Arthurian times and the lady is about to lift the sword above the waters. It's like returning to a bygone age without crass modern interuptions, where you can just simply be together.

Banana said...

Glad to see that you had a great time. Welcome home!

PI said...

OOh Sim: I wish I'd said that!

PI said...

Banana: thanks honey. It's good to be back.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Welcome back!

Wow! That looks like the most beautiful spot for a break. Thanks for the photos. I'm a wee bit homesick of late and they help. I want things like Lucozade and Dettol (for cleaning - I may be Scottish but we don't drink everything, you know. Well not if there's anything else on the go.) Your photos tke the edge off my longing for the greenness and freshness of old Britain again, especially as we're on the frazzled, brown tinderstick end of summer here in California.

The cottage is beautiful! Idyllic. And it sounds like you had a great time wandering around in that moody countryside. Are there any wild ponies left on Dartmoor?

PI said...

Sam: I'm glad the photos help; I was afraid they may be making it worse. We did see ponies - quite different to the Exmoor ones - and I assumed they were wild. One moggy looking one tried to nibble my leather jacket. Cannibal!

apprentice said...

Whoo I'm jealous, it look absolutely lovely. I can never understand how the Romans could poo in public, the loos on Hadrians Wall were all communal!

PI said...

It's strange how the smell still lingers. I'm bad enough in public loos and now have a horror of being the old lady locked in the lavatory since my less agile fingers have struggles with the locks.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I used to think you can wander around the moors and then just go home...not get lost, drop into holes and so on :-o

I just remembered The Secret Garden and the moor.

PI said...

GG: I did break all the rules but it was a brilliant sunny day.

granny p said...

lovely places - and good pictures - glad it was so good.

PI said...

Thanks granny p. went the day well?

kenju said...

I looked at all the photos down below and I have 2 words for you:

Absolutely charming!

PI said...

Judy: you would have loved the cottage.

Kath said...

Wow! I've been to Devon, but I'm not so sure I've been to Dartmoor (isn't it sad that I'm not sure?!)... I'm not the best for remembering place names!
Spent much of my time these past 3 weeks in and around Dorset, but ventured to Devon to meet my "new" grandmother :o)

PI said...

Kath: as long as you were in the South West you can't go far wrong!