Monday, 29 March 2010

A rather dour Stour

With apologies for a prolonged absence and the missing Vernal Equinox - a lack which wasn't down to laziness but bad weather, because you can't take a picture of the sunset when there's no sun.

But there's always next year and certainly the Autumn.

The sun has been missing because the weather has turned away from the fine but cold arctic flows back towards the wet but mild Atlantic systems. Not being cold is a good thing of course, but I'd take the clean crisp air and crunchy grass anyday over driving misty rain and sodden turf. But, of course, this is Dartmoor and you have to take the downs to get the considerable highs.

And in that vein, it was interesting to have an excursion eastward to the ouskirts of Bournemouth (for a family do) where I found the 'dour Stour'.

Taken from the hotel window at dawn - four pints of Ringwood Forty Niner is not condusive to late sleeping for some reason - this was just about the most vibrant picture available that morning. The next one, cropped to diminish the grey sky, was taken some four hours later from the top of the island that you can see in the first picture.


At this point the Stour is on an upward meander amidst its inexorable drive south east towards its destination at Christchurch Harbour. Although you can't get a sense of it from these pictures, it's an extremely fast flowing river that befits the sernse of its description as dour - obstinate, sullen.

Follow the Stour upstream, taking its eatern arm when given the choice (but not choosing the Winterbourne because that would just be pedantic), you eventually get to Hod Hill, an imposing Iron Age Hillfort that was taken by Vespasian on his passage west. After the assault, the victors, just to be sure, built their own fort; showing the locals exactly how this fortifcation thing was done.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Wet Dog

A pretty standard walk today, along the tramway to the northern slope of Leeden Tor and a beautiful clear, bubbling stream that has its own little bridge and handy bank.

Perfect for launching dogs into the water.

Jack, naturally, is the aspiring candidate and this is he, in the water, out of it, shaking it from his coat and generally just showing off.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Shades of Grey

By a certain climatary quirk, while the sky today was crystal clear - indeed blue - as the day wore on the air itself gradually condensed into a weak mist. We could still see to Kit Hill and beyond but each subsequent ridgeline was feinter than the last. Somewhere, almost certainly, there was a professional photographer doing all the necessaries to end up with that perfect cropped shot of shaded hill tops.

Not me though. Suffering from lower back pain I was only up to shuffling along the tramway while Ros and Rachel, encircled by busy dogs, strode on regardless, legs striding, mouths and tongues working hard to produce an enviable stream of chit chat. And you can't get that on camera with ease.

In two weeks time or there abouts, it'll be March 20th - the Spring Equinox - and the next installment of our Down Tor Stone Row fascination. Just to recap, we found out that the row was Not a Winter Alignment. Not even close. So the next obvious appointment with the ancients would therefore be when the year was a quarter of the way through.

I have to say I've got some doubts, but you never know, we might end up with an Indiana Jones moment as the westering sun glints its way through the secret stone hole to alight a single beam on a singular pinpoint of rock that opens into a dank passageway ....

Of course, the chances are that it'll be wet with mist and the sun will be conspicuously absent. That never happens in the films does it, but then every one of those special moments takes place in a warm climate in the Summer. By definition, that can't happen here. The countdown continues.

Postscript. By virtue of another quirk, this one concerned with nomenclature, a row of new housing in the village has been named 'The Leat'. Naturally I'll be contacting my solicitor forthwith.