Thursday, 1 January 2015

A New Years trip to the moor.


We woke this morning on the first day of the year to grey skies, wind and light rain, hardly an auspicious start to the new year, but undaunted we headed up the moor for some fresh air and lovely views.  We stopped at Combestone Tor first where we had coffee and cake, and watched the clouds sailing over the tors and the rain like a fine veil hanging in the valleys and combes.  The wind buffeted the car and shook the hawthorn trees, the puddles were ruffled by the wind and crows were blown about the skies like scraps of black paper.


Much refreshed we drove on, the moor was wild and beautiful, wind danced and shook the gorse bushes golden with flowers, grey clouds rolled across  the shoulders of the moor and rain stung the windscreen...we eventually reached the turning to Manaton, where we turned off, at the junction is Beetor Cross an ancient old granite cross mounted on the wall.  Its also called the Watching place one of the notions being that in Medieval times it was the site of a gallows erected by the Lord of the Manor.

We followed the narrow winding road down between high banks of hedging now laid bare in their winter finery, thick twiggy bushes in shades of pale brown, orange and a pale blackcurrant.  Ginger ferns sprouted from the hedge banks, and tiny birds flitted from side to side.  We passed Manaton and drove on till we came to Jays Grave, where we stopped and I got out to take some pictures.  Kitty Jay was a servant who worked on a local farm in the nineteenth century, the son of the farmer paid her some attention and she became pregnant, after which the farmer and his wife threw her out.  Kitty knew that she would never be allowed to work again because of the shame of her pregnancy, so she hung herself in the barn...In those days suicides weren't allowed to be buried in hallowed ground but were buried at crossroads to confuse the spirits so they wouldn't return..

Kitty Jays grave is beside a narrow little road, and behind is a pretty wooded track that leads over the moor with lovely views across the tors.

Her grave is never without flowers although no one ever sees anyone placing them on there, and it has become something of a shrine there were the usual gifts of flowers, money and lucky stones, and also because of Christmas there was a spray of holly and a shiny red bauble and a lovely little poem to say she wasn't forgotten, its a very sad little story, but Im glad that she is always remembered and people do leave gifts for was also special for me because if you look at the first photo I have posted there is a strange `orb` to the left of the photo which I only saw when I took the photos off my camera, I really have no idea what it is....

Having paid our respects we drove on and at the bottom of the road is this lovely Dartmoor long house, with lovely granite walls and mossy thatched roof.

I loved that they had decorated the sweet little thatched porch with a garland of greenery and red and gold baubles.

Across the road the folk from the cottage had hung baubles in the tree and they were dancing in the wind.

Behind the tree Hound Tor loomed a lovely avenue tor with wildly stacked tors looking very moody in the low cloud, it was the inspiration for Conan Doyles `The Hound of the Baskervilles`

The signpost had also been decorated with a garland of greenery and coloured baubles, I Iove the fact that people bother to do such things and made it all so magical.

It was a lovely magical first trip on the moor for new year and I`m looking forward to many more..


Rambler said...

Thank you for this post which brought back memories of when I lived on Dartmoor and explored all around the area. I now live in a Cornish village and don't explore as much as I used to, but I now feel a trip to Kitty Jay's grave and the area you describe is long overdue. A very poignant video from Seth at the end, too. x

Moon Daisies said...

Hi Rambler, thanks for your comments its always nice to hear from someone, Dartmoor is beautiful isn't it, Im sure you must miss it having lived there, I know I would, as we spend a lot of free time walking there. Hope you get a chance to visit again.x