Friday, 27 February 2015

St Raphael`s Snowdrops.

On a grey misty day we headed onto the moor and sat at Combestone Tor for coffee and cake...mist hung in the valley and obscured the tors in swirling veils...

The ponies stood around rather morosely, while the distant shoulders of the moor were milky with mist.

And whilst I sipped my hot coffee I marvelled that the gnarled magical Hawthorn tree had a doorway that would obviously transport you to the fairy kingdom that legend tells us exists...

Putting aside fanciful thoughts we drove on down the steep hill between shrubby gorse bushes sprinkled with golden flowers and stopped at Huccaby bridge, a rather lovely old pack horse bridge which the West Dart river meandered sleepily under. 
The river was low, and there was a good sized stretch of river beach showing.  This is a very popular picnic spot in the summer, and usually crowded with noisy families...needless to say we avoid it then.
We drove on and as we were passing St. Raphael`s little church, I spotted a notice on the gate, so we stopped and I went to investigate.
As I walked round the back of the church I was thrilled to see hundreds of Snowdrops...
They graced the banks and surrounded the little garden seat, and lit the hedge with their snowy whiteness....
Inside the church by the door was a large array of pots with snowdrops in for a donation, which I couldn`t resist.
It was lovely and peaceful as always, gone were all the sparkly trimmings for Christmas, now it was laid out as the schoolroom it had been in former years, each desk had a fine quill pen sitting in an inkwell.
I was interested to see on the lovely old granite fireplace, a fabulous collage which had been created by a local artist after hearing that St. Raphael`s didn`t have a war memorial.
It was beautifully done, and showed what a wonderful community spirit there is on the moor.

And when I got home, I was really pleased that I had some snowdrops from St. Raphael`s garden, and loved that they had marked each stake with a heart...I set them in a little pot in the garden and hope that they will eventually spread and make a lovely show.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Spring walk round the moor.

A couple of weeks ago when we were on the moor we decided to have a walk in Widecombe.  It was a lovely sunny day, the first that really felt like Spring, although since we`ve had lashings of rain and been in a snow blizzard on the higher moor. 

We parked up just outside the village and climbed over the stile into a lovely sunlit meadow.  The sky was forget me not blue, and the sun pale as a primrose.  The Alders growing beside the river threw long shadows across the grass, their heads stubby with purple catkins.

The river, the East Webburn meandered lazily across the meadow, gurgling and bubbling icily the colour of stewed tea over the river stones, where long tendrils of green water weed snaked in the rippling water.
In the trees all manner of tiny birds sang and flitted about, and high above two beautiful buzzards spun round and round soaring high into the sky, mewling as they flew. Too our right beyond the wintry hedge, we could see Widecombe church its tower piercing the blue sky.
Eventually we reached Venton bridge, a lovely old stone bridge beside the road.  We had to tackle a huge muddy swamp before we could climb the stile onto the road, but that done we were back on a little country road.
The road took us between thick well cut hedges, and led down to the Rugglestone Inn, a lovely old Dartmoor it was early it was closed, dozing in the warm morning sun, with its thick granite walls, soft blue door and thick shrubby rose clad walls. Its a lovely spot in the summer to sit in the gardens and enjoy a cold drink, with tiny bantams pecking around your feet, and very popular with the locals being a stone`s throw from the village.
We took the winding road back to the village, between high granite walls where navelwort grew, and ferns hung in green pelmets from the top of the wall. The snowdrops that we`d seen a few weeks ago had opened and formed a white carpet beneath the beech tree.
We decided to have a look in the churchyard and see what was flowering there.
It was beautifully peaceful, the sun warmed the old gravestones, and snowdrops were flowering everywhere.
Beneath the beautiful spreading Horse Chestnut beside the kissing gate, were the first crocus in flower, dainty flowers in shades of gold and purple and cream.
And busily buzzing from one to the other were two little bees.
Also on the hedge bank, amongst the old conker shells the first Celandine with its pretty shiny yellow flower, a sure sign of Spring.
And high above, the sticky buds on the Horse Chestnut were beginning to fatten ready to unfurl lovely vibrant green leaves.
Having really enjoyed our lovely walk in Widecombe we drove on to Manaton another small village on the moor.
We parked in the church car park and took a turn around the church, which is a very pretty light grey and has a lovely wedgewood blue clock on the tower.
The inside is very nice with a lovely carved rood screen and nice shaped roof.
I was surprised to see this very old funeral cart I would think, Ive never seen one before.
And in the porch a lovely vaulted roof and fabulous old lantern.
We walked out into the sunshine again, and crunched down the path to look around, beside the hedges snowy banks of snowdrops grew once again, and by the gate a lovely old ancient cross, well weathered with many a tale to tell no doubt.
We walked back down to the lychgate where the trees were casting long shadows on the nearby thatched longhouse, and beside the wall was a memorial to the village war dead.
Manaton has a huge village green, the lovely old thatched houses surround it and it is edged with ancient beech and oak trees that drop their leaves in soft drifts in the Autumn.  It had been a lovely day out, and showed us that Spring is just around the corner.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A walk round Chagford.

Today we drove up onto the moor as it was a lovely bright sunny day..we headed to Chagford where there is a lovely walk beside the river.  After parking we walked through the churchyard to see what flowers were out, and were rewarded with a lovely show of purple crocus scattered across the bank.

It was peaceful in the churchyard as it was early, just the sound of birds singing in the trees, and the sun casting shadows of the skeletal trees onto the church tower.

The lovely ancient thatched long house beside the church was still in shadow, one of the tiny leaden windows was thrown open to the soft morning air, and in the lee of the garden wall a string of snowdrops like a flowery necklace.

We followed the windy path through the graveyard where tufts of heather in purple, pink and white were flowering and little bunches of snowdrops lit the grey head stones,  down to the beautiful old granite cross built into the war was originally near the market place, and has an incised cross on the head.

Having admired the lovely old cross and the beautiful views across the moor from there we headed through the town which was waking up and down a very steep hill out of town,  between huge granite walls where navelwort grew between the cracks and huge tree roots split the stone till we came out into the sunshine again and crossed a lovely old pack horse bridge where the River Teign flowed.

The bridle path followed the river and ran across a meadow which is part of the Two Moors way.  On our left the ground rose into lovely undulating hills where magpies flew about the trees and we saw a couple of rabbits chasing each other.

There were some beautiful beech trees strung along the path, they were magnificent in their skeletal forms and this one had a lovely twisted trunk.

Eventually the path ran right beside the river, where it flowed peat coloured between the tree lined banks..

Amongst the grass and dun coloured stalks a patch of purple crocus shone like a jewel in a crown, sunlit and beautiful.
It was lovely and peaceful walking beside the river, birds flitted amongst the trees...sparrows, robins and chaffinch with their rosy chests.  The sun shone warmly on the trees highlighting their naked boughs, it shone on the holly and sparkled on the gurgling river in flecks of gold.
And the shoulders of the hills on the other side were lined with oak and ash and beech, hedges divided the fields square and stubby in shades of blackcurrant and beige.
The river wound its way across the sunlit fields, Alders clung to the banks their heads covered in purple catkins, and their feet dipping into the icy water, where the huge river stones were bathed in golden ripples from the sun.
We came across a little weir that foamed and splashed and cascaded over the boulders, singing another song to the one we`d heard.
The path was strewn with beech mast that crunched beneath our feet, and the husks of hazel nuts that mice and squirrels had gnawed. Some of the trees wore ivy cloaks that reflected pretty shadows on their trunks.
On the hill we saw a lovely set of barns hunched and rusty doubt owl haunted at times, and in the summer visited by swallows.
The path skirted the field the trees casting long shadows across it.
and then veered off where we crossed a lovely little wooden bridge into a sunlit field.
We found ourselves back on the road, then another bridge back over the river and up a winding road back into Chagford.
The town was busier than when we`d left it, people were out shopping and stopping for coffee in the little cafes.
This one was new I think and looked quite delightful, I loved the name of it.
All in all it was a lovely walk, peaceful, pretty and full of all the best parts of nature, just what I needed.