Monday, 17 November 2008

Sharpitor, Leather Tor and Burritor in Autum

I love being out in the rugged, ancient landscape of Dartmoor.

It was a bright day, with the distant sun illuminating soft, warm oranges and golds. I climbed Sharpitor and walked to Leather Tor, climbed that, then followed the leat through Burritor, through the pine woods, along water-soaked logging trails and back to the road.

It was a steep climb to Sharpitor over haphazard clitter. At the top, I ate my lunch and took in the wonderful view. It was such a clear day, I could see the sea. As I continued, I passed dartmoor ponies huddling at the base of Leather Tor. I had a good climb over the clitter and tor there, enjoying the challenge of using my arms to lift myself up into granite crevices. I sat there for a while just enjoying the view and taking photos.

I headed down into Burrator, past some old trees coated with thick, green moss, into the pine woodland. I came across a sheep nibbling on grass in amongst the trees. Its wool coat was thick, making it seem very fat indeed. It seemed oblivious to the bramble it was carrying.

I reached the leat. The flowing water chimed and resonated. It was refreshing and energising, as if I had quenched a thirst I did not know I had. Onwards through the woods, past more ponies and suddenly so many mushrooms, lurking around roots and rotting logs. I flicked through my mushroom book, but couldn't tell what was what.

I noticed the light was fading. I was making slow process today, being much more interested in taking photos and investigating everything I came across. I couldn't resist stopping every time I came across an interesting mushroom or toadstool!!

The ground was getting increasingly boggy underfoot and I was struggling to find a way through. It was a race against the coming darkness. There are no bears or wolves in this part of the world, but still I felt my fear of getting lost in such a place at night. How easy it would be to get confused in the strange shadows! I finally found a narrow point of the stream and jumped, landing a little awkwardly so that my ankle turned over. It is the same ankle that I have sprained three times. It was not sprained this time, just a little sore.

I made it back to the car before the last of the light had faded, wondering at the beauty of this rugged place.

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