By: Blonde Two
The Two Blondes had a rather unusual piece of navigation to do last Friday. One minute we were walking on open Dartmoor and the next, we realised that we were in the middle of a rather busy golf course. We were looking for a Dartmoor cross called “Pixie’s Cross” which was worth finding but, not being golfists (new Blonde word), we had an interesting time trying to pick the safest and least likely to annoy route across the golf course.
It was a bit worrying particularly as, according to Countryfile, you are more likely to get hit by a golf ball than bitten by an adder. As I have seen adders on Dartmoor but not, until Friday, many golf balls, I am not sure that this is entirely true (but one should never argue with the BBC).
So lets avoid golf balls (we did) for a moment and think about adders. Adders come out of hibernation in the late Spring and despite being our only native venomous snake, are not as aggressive as their beautiful zigzag markings might suggest. I say beautiful but that is an opinion gained more from looking at pictures than from experience. The couple of times that I have seen them up on Dartmoor, I have been quite keen to see them slide away. Apologies that this picture is neither mine or on Dartmoor but I don’t love you all enough to go foraging for serpents.
Dartmoor has some interesting and varied lore on the adder. The idea that you can’t recover from an adder bite until the snake is dead seems a bit mean, especially as the adder was probably terrified when it bit you. There is a wide variety of “cures” involving various sticks and potions which you might like to try should this fate befall you – go to the fab Legendary Dartmoor site if you want to gen up on this information http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/adder_lore.htm.
In reality, even you do find an adder, you are unlikely to get bitten as they are shy creatures. Precautions such as long trousers and boots and not sticking your hands into holes in rocks make sense as does looking where you are walking. If you see an adder, stand still and allow it to move away in its own time. The only biting incidents I can remember as a child on the Malverns were on arms and hands. If you should be unlucky enough to be bitten please don’t panic because, although adder bites can be serious, they are rarely deadly to people.
The best advice I have been given about what to do if you are with someone who is bitten by an adder is this; reassure the casualty, keep him/her still, call for help immediately 999 or 112, check for shock and immobilise the affected limb. Monitor breathing until help arrives. Nobody has ever given me advise about what to do about golf balls and golfists.
If you are visiting Dartmoor soon, the Two Blondes would advise you to avoid golf courses and adders alike. There are lots of other lovely things to see up there so maybe something a bit less dangerous – Spring lambs are particularly cute at the moment…