By: Blonde Two
When you go out walking on Dartmoor, you can’t go very far without finding a river that needs to be crossed. We have all types of crossings here, pretty stone bridges, old clapper bridges (much photographed), little footbridges (mostly stone), stepping stones (hateful) and then, there is the old fashioned method – the daring leap. All of these work under usual circumstances – I suspect that a fair few were not working by the end of yesterday’s storms.
There was a supreme irony in yesterday’s Blonde mission to Dartmoor. We have some Ten Tors training walks coming up which require us to cross a variety of rivers. Being a bit on the wary side and not having used these particular crossing spots before, I wanted to go up and check them. We planned the date ages ago and were looking forward to it.
Please don’t think here that I am enough of a numbskull not to have checked the weather forecast. I did so the night before but will admit that I should probably have done this before I had spent some (happy) time peering at the map, sorting out a route and getting exactly which river was which straight in my head. There are three in a row that run northish to southish and I now have them neatly filed in the “river” section of my brain. They go West Dart (Two Bridges), Cherry Brook (Powder Mills), East Dart (Postbridge) – easy to remember, West Cherry East. I try not to remember the Cowsic River because that just sounds disgusting!
Anyway, once I had checked the forecast and sought a bit of local advice, it became clear that yesterday was not going to be the day to check river crossings. It is not just rivers that can be a water problem on Dartmoor, the ground can become saturated and impassible very quickly. Neither Blonde One or I fancied either a swim or getting stranded.
We did drive up to Dartmoor however in the hope of a shorter, safer walk. It turns out that it was a waste of time learning the names of the rivers because the whole of the moor had turned into one big river. I have never seen the like, it was very disconcerting to have a whole load of new tributaries flowing across the road.
It was a day both of astonishing sights and concern for the people who live and work on the moors. The East Dart at Dartmeet was spectacular, you could only just see the old clapper bridge and, I suspect, the car park was about to succumb to the flood waters.
I have never seen a river rise so quickly and I now have even more respect for the forces that govern Dartmoor. It was the first time I can think of that the Two Blondes haven’t walked at all on a Dartmoor outing, but for once, staying inside Foxtor Cafe and refusing to leave was exactly the right thing to do.