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Bristol , United Kingdom
My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, will be published early in 2022 by Indigo Dreams. I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy. https://theleapingword.com

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Long White Dress of Love

And so to Lydford Gorge for a return visit, at the request of Son the Younger, who was five years old the last time we were there.  But first a visit to Lydford Castle, built in 1195 and notorious as the courthouse and dungeon of Dartmoor prison.  

I have an interest in the prison, as it features in my novel, Dart, which is set on the moor during the Black Death.  Back in the day, Lydford Law was a synonym for injustice.

'I oft have heard of Lydford Law,

How in the morn they hang and draw,
And sit in judgement after' 

wrote William Browne of Tavistock in 1644.

'One of the most annoious, contagious and detestable places wythen this realme,' said Richard Strode, an imprisoned MP in 1510.

Far more agreeable is the neighbouring Castle Inn, which dates from 1550.  

It has some modern stained glass on an ancient theme ... 

... and a very appealing snug, my favourite place to eat lunch.

The gorge is just up the road but another world once you are there.  The first part of the walk takes you through Lambhole Wood, a stretch of ancient oak and hazel woodland along the top edge.  At this time of year it's enough to say that it's breathtaking and let the camera take care of its poetry.


Every now and then water spilled across our path and on down the hillside ...    

... and then a longer, sunlit vista over the gorge would open up through gaps in the trees.  

Eventually we wound our way through Watervale Wood to the River Lyd at the bottom of the gorge, and headed back up stream as it tumbled to meet us.  

Above the mine adit, we saw a fallen tree, evidence of the storm which had hit earlier in the week ...   

... and then the magical 100ft White Lady waterfall.  

Oldcleave Wood

A fallen tree trunk hammered with coins

Tunnel Falls  

We were now approaching Devil's Cauldron, the other highlight of our walk through the gorge. 

Lydford Gorge is deep and so full of dripping mosses and ferns that you could imagine yourself in the rainforest.

And then the short climb back to the car.  So beautiful.  I shall try not to leave it another 14 years before I return.  


  1. ..and you had the place to yourselves, by the look of it! -really must get there myself; it looks wonderful

    1. I kept thinking of you and the photos you would take! We were pushed for time, but there are some short extensions to the walk I'd love to do next time, plus a bird hide. It's about to close for winter, but I really think we should get down there once it's reopened for spring.

  2. fabulous photos, you've made me want to go there.

  3. So beautiful! And while you're on the subject of modern stained glass... some of those photos of branches would make lovely patterns for stained glass, I think. Thanks for sharing, it really is gorgeous!

    1. Jodi, I'm thinking about having a go in fused glass to begin with.