Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Cider, Pigs, Two Interesting Gates and A Dead Squirrel (Not Necessarily In That Order)

When Alice Oswald said during a recent reading in Bristol that her favourite spot on Dartmoor was Chalk Ford, my heart sank a bit.  Lovely it certainly is, but getting there involves a hefty climb one way or another, and the instant she said it, I knew that the man in my life, being an ardent admirer of Alice Oswald's wonderful poetry and a rookie Dartmoor devotee, would want to go there.  And so it proved.  So first we had to fortify ourselves in the Tradesmans Arms at Scorriton, where they sell a damn fine pint of cider. It's the deep rosy red colour of Thatcher's Cheddar Valley but it's prapper dry scrumpy, tastes of cheese and is called Thompstone's. 

I've walked a lot around Chalk Ford, but managed to find a route up to the moor that was new to me, from Combe to Lud Gate - a nice sunken holloway, or green lane as they are usually called in Devon.  The idyll included a dead squirrel, however.  

It would have been lovely to have walked out onto the moor - my original plan was to explore Huntingdon Warren, coming back via Pupers Hill - but the clouds were so low they were mist, so we decided to stick close to the edges of the moor, rather than venture out into the wilds.  

The conditions made for beautifully moody photos, however. 

Just before Lud's Gate we encountered this very pleasing fence made of old wheels, at a place called Strole.  

And here is Lud's Gate itself.  

After all that climbing, the views from the moor were even more spectacular.  

The hill shining all goldy in a patch of sun was just where we'd been (with the sheep).  

The clouds were closing in so we pressed on downhill to Chalk Ford, ignoring some rather evil-looking cows that were intent on following us. 

Lovely Chalk Ford, where the little River Mardle leaves the moor. 

Oak tree at Chalk Ford ... 

... with epiphytic polypold ferns like little green flags.

Then we merely had to return to Scorriton via the bridleway - a pleasant enough wander downhill though it's attrition when you're coming in the opposite direction.  

Today we encountered a deer and ... 
... a pigling on the loose ... 

... who clearly couldn't remember the way back through to its compatriots.  I tried to drive it into its field but it wasn't having it and Ted, who was outraged by all the grunting, started to get rather protective towards me from other side of the gate on the path, so in the end I had to leave it where it was. 

Coming back into Scorriton. 

The pub in Scorriton was closed when we got back, as was the Church House Inn in Holne. We did get to see another splendid makeshift gate, however, this one made out of horseshoes.  

Then home to the biscuit tin by the sea with its bottle of Tequila in the fridge ... 


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