By: Blonde One

One of my excellent Christmas presents this year was a bundle of old books and maps. This bundle included 2 Dartmoor maps from long ago and 2 books. The book I want to tell you about is called ‘My Dartmoor’ by Clive Gunnell, written in 1977. Now I always thought that it was my Dartmoor but since Mr Gunnell has written such an excellent book I’m prepared to share.

When I first picked up the book to read it I expected to find an interesting work of prose, full of tales of wanderings across the moors. I anticipated reading about legends, history and geography. What I got, in the very first chapter, came as a bit of a surprise! I still got to hear about all of the expected things but told in such a beautifully poetic way. Mr Gunnell has included extracts and comments from the great English poet John Clare, who was born in 1793 and wrote about the English landscape, so perhaps that’s where his inspiration comes from. Certainly Mr Gunnell has a way with words that is in no way prosaic. Here’s a few extracts that speak for themselves:


“We are in harmony with the world.”

Writing of his dog, Thurber: “Every fibre of her being glowing with animal content at the freedom of the morning.”

“The sun hidden behind the western heights at day’s beginning climbs slowly above Brent Moor, burning off the shadows clinging to the sheltered slopes in a blanket of dark ruby.”

“In the peaceful splendour of this setting I rested, took off my boots and socks, soaked my aching feet in the peat-tinted cold water; cooled my wine, dined on a meal of smoked mackerel and brown bread and came to the definite conclusion that if God created anything finer he kept it to himself.”

Writing after a long walk across the southern moor: “I sat for a long while in the Tradesmans Arms, drinking my beer and gazing out over the moor, letting the events of the day flow over me, filling me with a strange inexplicable joy. It was as if the physical exertions of the walk had heightened my mental reception giving it clarity and depth. This was not just another ordinary day. This was different. This was a glorious day. Even more, this was my day – my day of glory.”


Without some kind of introduction you would be forgiven for thinking that these lines were written by a ‘great’ writer at about the time of the Romantic poetry movement in the 18th century.