Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Walkhampton Man

A cross, half-formed, angles out
From the slope of Gutter Tor.
Carved in-situ, once upright,
Now it leans, pointing North West,
Partially hidden from the sun.
Green moss, laid thick,
Despoils the surface,
Already cracked and scarred
From biting wind and rain.
Slowly, in a time
Measured by the season
The Goddess reclaims the stone
Laying it gently down
Back into the waiting earth.

There was a Walkhampton man,
We'll call him Gabriel.
He was fully-formed,
Steeped and matured
On the slope of Knowle Down.
Weather-wise, moss-free,
He knew which way to turn
Against a biting easterly.
All the tricks, the little secrets,
She'd hidden away,
He'd prise out with a crafty gleam,
Hoping she wouldn't see.
And maybe she turned a blind eye,
But in return, and slowly,
A time measured by the season,
She reclaimed him,
Laying him gently down
Back into the loving earth.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Take A Moment

When the ropes go taut
Pulling you back towards
Life's painful times.
When your troubles threaten
To take you out of your depth.
Lift your feet!
Break the surface!
Float away on the moment.

When plans go awry
And you lose your goals.
If the stress of living
Becomes too much to bear.
Let go of the ropes!
Lift your head!
Take a long breath
In a care-free moment.

If all the strings,
Tied tight to your life,
Pull as one,
In every direction.
Disentangle yourself
For the time it takes
To step away,
For that selfish moment.

Then set them aside.
Store them away.
To be retrieved
In some future time
When the strains take hold
And all you have
Is that joyous memory
Of some wondrous moment.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Deep Moss

Mid-Winter deep in the Walkham Valley. Moss strewn.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Tousle-haired harbinger
Teasing the last remnants
From an Indian Summer.
Next years buds
Vestiges of growth
Belie the destitution
That November will bring.
Beyond, under frigid skies,
The wrecking months.
Skirling winds
Bitter, twisted tendrils
Seep through gaps
Chilling bones, until,
Desolate and alone,
They whither and snap
Like dry grass
Blast-stripped, brown
With cold and decay.

Amidst the carnage,
She walks.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Outing to Down Tor Stone Row

A Sunday excursion to the stone row, a whole day before, according to the Photographers Ephemera, the row is aligned with the setting sun. Technical considerations mean that this isn't necessarily the purpose. Anyway, for those present, here's the photos.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

On the edge

Coming back from the Plym valley, where I failed to make it to Plym Head, the rain stopped and the air cleared for a view off the edge of the moor. Producing the following images. The first two shots include a view of Sheepstor, the second as the main element. It's quite possible that this outcrop will feature in the upcoming film of Warhorse - or they might just plonk a CGI shot of somewhere else.

Although the photos don't quite do it justice, I'd like to assert that the track you can see was literally flowing with water. An extra stream, if another was needed, coming off Dartmoor.

Monday, 24 October 2011


The tawny owl is out again
Harboured in the oak
High in the canopy.
Hooty calls returned
From along the field boundary.

Leaving safe harbour
He pitches forward
Soft feathers cutting clean.
Silently descending
To deliver crushing death.
Completing one circle
Opening another.

I catch the riddle,
Without solving it.
Hear the hidden meaning,
Without understanding it.
But he knows the purpose
Hers as his own.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Full Tension

When did it begin?
Did you notice it?
That weight on the soul
Tied down and left to drag.

Ropes at full tension
Pulling all your disappointments
Trailing after you
Bringing all motion to an end.

Confused you turn
To count them
Listing them all
Putting them in order.

Concentrating on the task
Of testing every rope
Checking the tension
Twanging every strand.

Who will create the slack
Turn your head from the past
And pull you forward again?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Ditsworthy Again

Hesitantly we trace the barbed perimeter
Stepping around the black earth
Avoiding the sinking depths
Establishing ourselves on Edwards Path.
North of Gutter Tor
Above the mire
The path bends east and south
Converging with a blasted track
To meet up at Warren House.
Round the rise of Eastern Tor
Leaping across the stream
Emerging from Drizzle Comb
And on to the slope
Where the diverging lines appear.
Nervously the landscape reveals its secrets
Shy at first
Perhaps embarrassed at what they did
But strengthening
Proud of her achievements
Giving the topographic gifts
To the ancient stone splitters.

Friday, 14 October 2011


Standing alone as seasons pass,
proud against a bleak horizon,
steadfast before the deluge.
Island of stone within a moat of tears

Four-field face,
directional but unturning.
Casting a shadow
the only moving part

Placid, tranquil, accepting.
Open, waiting and fluid.
Floating, partly sunk,
buoyant on the sea lawn.

Numbered stones
Directional points
Antiquarian eagerness
Millenial origins

Prostrate and revealing
alabaster reclining.
The circle can be entered
from any direction

Standing erect,
looming over the cleansing circle,
the shadow reaches out
but never makes contact.


In a chemical reaction
of chlorophyll degradation,
The Goddess tires of growth,
adding yellow and ochre
to smother her pallet of greens.

Oak and beech,
Ash and birch,
the foliage loses its tinge,
taking on the stark flash
of Autumn

A transition of life-giving leaves,
to a morbid crunch
and a display of unintended colour.
Yellow to reds and browns,
lacking real purpose,
creating a psychotic vista.

A promise of death,
the spectre of decay,
withdrawing the living sap;
protection against
the harsh embrace
of Winter.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Drizzle Combe

One of the most spectacular antiquities on Dartmoor, Drizzle Combe, or Ditsworthy Warren as it's also called, boasts a collection of three stone rows each terminated by sizable menhirs at the south western end and cist burials at the north eastern. The site sits on the downward slope of Higher Hartor Tor with the Plym Valley failing away to the east. Above the stone rows are four enclosed settlements and around it are numerous burial sites including the Giants Basin Cairn.

Utilising a bit of software I recently discovered on the net, I can say with confidence that all three stone rows don't quite line up with the sunset position on the shortest day. At least not as the sun set would appear on a flat horizon. Given a viewing angle standing on each of the cist burials and aligning with the sun setting behind Eastern Tor may, however, provide a better alignment on that day.

There is, or at least there was today, a certain atmosphere around the site. Perhaps this was aided by the low clouds and consequent mist, but there was a definite sense of melancholy.

With the help of a willing aid, you get a sense of the enormity.

A place to visit again.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Bude and Clovelly

A three day, two night excursion to Bude produced a few images. If we'd have been able to examine Clovelly Dykes there would have been more words. Suffice to say it was hot. Understandable given the unusually warm and humid Indian Summer we're experiencing. Only on the last day did the wind manage to get past a ripple and a few mackerel clouds managed to dissipate the heat somewhat.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Tour of Britain

As it did last year, the Tour of Britain visited Dartmoor. And I visited the Tour.

But before we met up ...

This is Dartmoor after all. And hence to ...

Just setting the scene. Here's the lead group.

And the peleton - the bunch if you like.

Finally the support.

Whoosh! And they were gone.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

In Between

Her heart lies amongst the greenery,
pulsing through the filaments.

Shoots pushing up through rotting mulch
sap bursting in a lithe climb to the light.

Life through death.

A partial demise
hence to a renewal.

And in between,
during the icy clutches of Winter,
a dormant phase.

Yet she remains,
even in those mortal depths,
poised for rebirth.

Glimpsed in the seasonal berries,
crimson red,
filled with her life-blood.

Or on the Robin's breast,
while he sings of her coming.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Shifting Foliage

Sunlight splinters through shifting foliage,
casting dappled shade on the forest floor.

Each parcel of light has an origin,
though only the savant might trace its path.

Across this shimmering carpet she walks,
leaving image echoes in her wake.

The hare, wily shy, sits up in the grass,
ears aloft
listening to her laughter.

The crane, stands steady,
eye beaded,
missing not a step she takes.

The dog fox, traitor to the thicket,
lifts his head,
catching her scent, sweet and fresh.

Wild flowers, weak and fragile, stretch higher,
risking all,
for a glimpse. Just a glimpse.

Resolutely she walks on,
dainty feet tracing the path of life.
Forward. Forever forward.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Black Tor

In actual fact this entry should be untitled because we don't know a name for the stone row we visited. But since Black Tor was the nearest feature, besides the River Meavy, that'll do. Even if we didn't climb the hill to get there.

Like the Merrivale example, this was a double row, perhaps better described as an avenue, but that's a little posh. Maybe a stone street. Or a lane. At the high point - the row runs down the gradient in what's close to an westerly direction - there's a cist burial, long since disturbed of course. There's no obvious landscape alignment, no tors, no low point, nothing at all to speak of which point towards a calendar type row linked to a sun set. If this is the case, then it would have to be a winter solstice or perhaps an equinox or other principle day because the sun was almost directly in line when we got there around 5.45pm. The proof of that is obvious enough in the first photo.

The twin peaks on the left of the next photo are Sharpitor - on the right and Leather Tor on the left. The sky is a white out because the sun, as indicated, was shining straight down the row.

Lastly, a more personal picture. Not the best of what was taken, but importantly, for unstated reasons, it shows three dogs.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Plaster Down

Stuff happens around Dartmoor on a Bank Holiday weekend. It's also likely to rain - our current Summer run should start any day now and will probably extend into October.

Our particular itinerary included a visit to the Sheep Dog Trials in a field bordering Plaster Down, of which more down the page. For now, here's a few action shots. Noting, of course, that stills could never capture the real action of a sheep dog collecting his small flock with a sharp run round the field boundary.

For those unfamiliar with the pastime - you might call it a sport, but these people are all working farmers and that takes priority - for anyone not familiar, a trial involves the shepherd and dog herding the sheep through or around certain obstacles or into a pen. The first two shots above show the same essential procedure - pushing the sheep between two hurdles. The third shot shows the shepherd and dog attempting to split the five sheep into two and three.

Shepherding with dogs is often cited as an example of man working alongside nature and indeed it is. But it is also an example of man using the natural instinct - the dog as a hunter - and turning it to his advantage. On Dartmoor, the sheep are less likely to need herding as they are left to roam without any field boundaries. Those farmers who let their sheep up on the moor will, however, make regular trips out to supply herds with feed and the sheep have learnt to follow the sound of the quad bikes used to get out to them.

The picture below is a view towards Sharpitor - the distinct pimple on the left of the horizon and the end point on that ridge that is Peek Hill. What's noticeable - but not immediately so for anyone not familiar with farming practice - is that none of the fields on view contain arable crops. Dartmoor, being high up, is more suited to raising livestock - mostly cattle and sheep - and as such, fields contain grass. Many of these fields will have produced silage earlier in the year - essentially cut grass which is then stored and used for feed during winter months - which is why, in late August they look so lush. Of course, the amount of rain we've received from the middle of July onwards certainly helps.

Plaster Down was the site of a US Army Field Hospital during WWII and after the site of a Territorial Army. The site is now barren with hardly any sign of its wartime use. A close friend, told that we had been there, let out the rather astounding fact that Plaster Down was where she was conceived - during the war, courtesy of a visiting US army soldier.