By: Blonde Two
Today we Dartmoor Blondes have a Dartmoor guest post for you. I first met Gill and her lovely ewes and lambs back in March. Gill loves Dartmoor walking as much as we Blondes do and I think she must be the only person who holds the dubious honour of having read every single Blonde-Blog-Post. Find out about her ‘perfect’ Dartmoor walk here:
Let me introduce myself, I was introduced to you in a previous Two Blondes blog post as the “very friendly lady called Gill” and I live on a farm just off the edge of Western Dartmoor, with my hubby and Labrador Black and Labrador Orange. I am not sure if the hours I spend planning walks, pouring over my Dartmoor OS map and Dartmoor books (mostly Dartmoor 365), is normal. Perhaps it is an addiction. Perhaps it is therapeutic. Perhaps it is both. Either way it is something I find myself doing whenever I have a bit of down time. Our best long Dartmoor exploration definitely fell into the category of therapy as it was designed as a cure for cabin fever.
I had been on Spring Lockdown since mid March. I had only been off the farm a small handful of times and never for more than two hours. It was now early May and we (mostly me, sometimes hubby, never labradors) had been lambing and hatching. Lambing our beautiful and rare Whitefaced Dartmoor ewes is amazing, and exhausting, and emotional. Hatching our equally beautiful and rare West of England geese is all of those things, but also frustrating and often utterly heart breaking. Emotional roller coaster aside, Spring Lockdown is by far my most favourite time of year on the farm. However, after 6-8 weeks of 2 hourly checks day and night, watching and waiting, nurturing and nursing, life and death, I felt a bit frazzled and more than a bit claustrophobic which meant that before I could be let loose on the general public again I need to push reset, thank goodness for Dartmoor!
The walk that I chose for my reset couldn’t be too tricky to navigate or physically taxing, as energy levels and brain function are at an all time low post Spring Lockdown. It needed to have lots of interesting things to find (finding certain things means colouring in squares – the Two Blondes can explain that one!) and it needed to have a couple of reasonable Tors to climb. It also had to include at least two places to stop for a snack and some water for the dogs to splosh round in.
After several hours of map and book study I settled on a circular walk from Two Bridges. The walk included everything on my tick list:
Easy navigation following well trodden pathways and obvious physical features (being able to see these is not always guaranteed with Dartmoor weather but we had chosen a clear calm day for our walk).
Lots of interesting things to find, including the ruins of an old house and some very tall chimneys. Not one but five Tors to climb – the biggest being 527m ish.
A river for labrador sploshing and the opportunity to marvel at Wistman’s Wood, possibly one of the most curious patches of woodland I have ever seen (generations ago people must have been shorter otherwise how would they have walked through woods?).
Best of all was the chance to colour in four Dartmoor 365 squares! My “reset” walk had the potential to be the most perfectly planned walk but we wouldn’t know until we did it.
The day was clear and calm, backpacks packed and Random’s (not Jelly Babies, sorry!) stuffed into secret pockets. Dartmoor was suitably gorgeous, big skies, awe inspiring views. We found all the things we wanted to (cue much excitement and colouring in), Labradors sploshed and Tors were climbed. It was a fantastic walk but it wasn’t until we got nearly to the end that it became the perfect walk. I had followed the map and navigated almost perfectly. Without my misreading of the map, and the assumption that a visible road was public, this would not have ended up as the perfect walk. But, I did assume and I did misread and the result was delightfully unexpected.
We ended up walking right through Powdermills Pottery (without using the public access route, sorry!). I knew the pottery was there, it is marked very clearly on my map with a big blue star but we had planned to skirt round it. I also knew that there was the opportunity to purchase pottery (note to self, take bigger backpack next time). What I did not know is that Powdermills Pottery serve the most delightful cream teas (and doggie biscuits). There is surely no better consequence of misnavigation than finding oneself presented with a cream tea, and I have decided that every “reset” walk should include one.