Tuesday, 13 January 2015
A Stormy drive on the Moor.
Today we woke to a day that looked promising weather wise to drive up the moor. We`ve had dreadful grey wet days that held no hope of a burst of sunshine, so with clearer skies we headed out. Unfortunately the closer to the moor we got, the darker the sky became, till the heavens opened and it poured....undaunted as always we carried on till we reached a car park over looking Hameldown Beacon and stopped for cake and coffee to assess the situation. Rain lashed the windscreen and the wind buffeted the car, the views of the tors and hills were obscured with great drifts of rain like net curtains draped across them and the sky the colour of a bruise. Much to our surprise by the time we`d finished our coffee the skies had started to clear and there was enough blue in them to `make a sailors collar` so we headed down the long steep winding hill to Widecombe.
The village had that lovely early morning feel about it, the green was bathed in sunshine, the trees beautiful and sleek with rain casting long shadows over the grass. One or two local folk were pottering around the shops or chatting to one and other, and everything had an unhurried feel...
Looking about I was thrilled to see on the church bank the first signs of Snowdrops..
`Fair Maids of February` as theyre known, but in this case January..their tiny snowy heads still tightly closed, nodding gently in the wind...so early, but we`ve had an unseasonably warm winter so far, so I shouldn't be surprised. I know a lot of people hate January because of its long grey dark days, but I don`t, I always feel that it`s the gateway to the new year and holds lots of promise of new things to do and see, and I always feel that in every day there`s something good to be had from it, and today proved it with this lovely surprise.
I decided to look round the churchyard and walking round noticed that someone had woven this shrub into a fabulous shape above the old stone wall, Im sure in the spring it will look lovely with the new leaves.
The church looked beautiful in the morning sun, the tower soaring into the blue sky, the churchyard was peaceful apart from some Jackdaws that flew about the trees squabbling and calling to each other. The grass was lush and rain spangled, and on one or two graves Christmas wreaths still lay, the flowers in them in faded rose, and pink and yellow.
Walking down to the bottom of the graveyard I looked back across the moorland where the tors crouched on the horizon great piles of grey granite, the slopes covered in ginger bracken and the sky behind blue with great billowing white clouds sailing across like galleons in full sail. There were a few more patches of snowdrops scattered amongst the tombstones, as yet still closed.
We decided to drive onto Grimspound where we were hoping to have a walk. The moor looked lovely, rain washed and sparkly, the tiny windy roads were very wet, huge puddles ran from side to side, and tiny streams ran off the moorland turf and down the hilly roads. Grimspound was very peaceful but extremely windy, the wind tugging at my clothes as I got out to take a photo, so we decided against walking, just enjoying the lovely views across the hills with the tinners gerts where tiny white sheep grazed and a buzzard flew above the bracken landing in a tree on the side of the hill.
We drove back homeward across the moor where the rain came and went, and a rainbow brightened the blackened sky. The rivers ran high and swift roaring over the huge granite boulders no longer visible in the foaming icy cold waters. Raindrops sparkled in the hedgerows like a thousand diamonds, and hung on the branches of trees like crystal drops.
We stopped at Combestone Tor for our picnic lunch, where the sun was shining, warming the lumpy granite of the tor, but in the distance the black clouds were gathering, moving closer and closer, till they blotted out the sunshine and hail thick and heavy fell all around covering the windows of the car in an icy blanket. It was certainly a day of contrasts and dramatic in the extreme, but as always the moor is beautiful in all her moods and a place I will always love to be.