Sunday, 18 August 2013

Between The Devil and the Deep Black Mire

Look, a raven launching itself from Boulters Tor.

And a chatter of jackdaws just up the track.

And a swallow swooping over the tangle of streams at Wedlake, below White Tor.  

And in between, the view back down the track to Peter Tavy ...

... and over to St Michael de Rupe on top of Brent Tor.  

We'd also stopped for a chat with John (or George) Stephens at his grave ...

... leaving him a little bunch of hawkweed and heather, and a black feather, wrapped in sheep's wool, secured with a few strands of hair and weighed down with a glittery white granite chip.  Though upon reflection, maybe the lucky heather was a bit late.  Still, maybe the feather will help his spirit fly ...  

... though not back home, obviously, that's why his grave is at this crossroads.  

After the long gentle descent to the bottom of the valley came the climb up the slopes of Roos Tor.

It started out benignly enough ... 

... but soon became a sort of attrition.  

Every now and then we had to have a little rest ...

 ... but we made it in the end. 

This is the massive logan or rocking stone at the summit. 

From Roos Tor there is a great view up to the twin stacks of Great Staple Tor, like a giant granite gateway ... 

... and over to Cox Tor.  To both of which I was planning to walk. 

But then I told the swain about the stone circle on Langstone Moor, and the eponymous standing stone, and suddenly that was where we were headed instead, along the wet and sloshy track you can just see heading north into nowhere.

Looking over the Walkham valley to Great Mis Tor.

A skylark - silent and just visible.  
Langstone Moor Stone Circle

Between the stone circle and the standing stone, which was our next point on the walk, the ground is so wet as to constitute mire.  It's prudent to head north to a relatively dry track, rather than pick your way over them. Having done that, we would be able to make our way past the foot of White Tor and Boulters Tor, back down to my car which was parked in a disused quarry just above Peter Tavy. 

So here is the standing stone, circled in purple, towards which we must progress ... and alongside it, ringed in red, a colossal Highland bull, standing and staring in our direction. 

I know this bull. I met him last year, not too far from this very spot.  He is the size of a static caravan.  Swain and I retired to the mire to have an intense discussion of tactics.  

Swain wanted to go back the way we had come and then pick our way down the valley, which would have involved a fair bit of traversing of mire.  I wanted to risk passing close-ish to the bull, on the grounds that the bull probably won't get you but the mires always will.  It wasn't much of a choice, however.  

In the end the bull wandered back up the hill a bit and we reached the standing stone with nothing worse than squelchy feet.  

This sheep wasn't as lucky - now just foam and bones. 

But we were busy putting mucho distance between us and the bull and look, here's that funny quilty ground again, which is so characteristic of this part of the moor.  

Give me Dartmoor Hill Ponies over bulls anyday.  

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