About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Thursday 29 May 2014

Blue Remembered Bells ... and Tradewinds at Scorriton

The reason I love Dartmoor's bluebells is that oceans of them grow out in the open, before the bracken starts its invasion, and they are a sight to see.  I don't always manage to time my visits properly, however.  For a start, you can never be sure quite when these great tides are going to appear.  In early May 2007, I remember wading through them with two of my children in the Beckabrook valley, yet in 2010 it was June when I saw them rolling in waves down the strip lynchets at Challacombe.  And since then, with the exception of the bluebell woods around the edges of the moor, I've missed them altogether. 

So it was with heart in mouth that I looked towards Grea and Hound Tors from the Bovey Tracey to Widecombe Road, for if you are going to see them anywhere, it's there. And yes, a faint blue haze at Emsworthy!

Not that all patches of blueishness were flowers ... 

... but most of them were, and they were stunning. 
Haytor Rocks
Rippon Tor, far left 
Looking back over Holwell Lawns
Witches' Butter on dead gorse

Looking over to Hayne Down

Grea Tor

Haytor Rocks and Holwell Tor

There were other beautiful sights on our walk like the crows flying to and from the noisiest nest I've ever heard on Hound Tor, and the ominous clouds that made for such stunning skyscapes passing over without raining on us (much), and the lovely mug of tea we had at the Hound of the Basket Meals, but today the bluebells had it, and not just on the eastern edge of the moor either.

Here they are at Challacombe ...

and on the steep slopes running down to Sherberton Firs ... 

... and on the banks of the West Dart ...  

... and at my much loved Hexworthy, where I set the main action of my novel, 'Dart'. Did my family living there in the 14th century see them like this?  I hope so.  

The day didn't end with bluebells, however, as a chance meeting with Bristol poet and friend Hazel Hammond in Shaldon the day before had reminded us about Tradewinds, the monthly open mic run by Susan Taylor and Simon Williams at the Tradesmans Arms in Scorriton.  (Hard to resist even without the promise of a pint of my favourite Thompstones cider.)  

Not having come to Devon prepared to read poems, I had to copy a couple out legibly by hand (surprisingly onerous when you are used to tap-tapping on a laptop and then printing them off in a large enough font to read without resorting to glasses).  I chose one I wrote last year about a dead mole at Heaven's Gate and another about Mahala Northcote, who drowned herself at Chagford Bridge in 1867 - a poem in two voices and the first time I'd read it in public. I especially loved to hear other poets reading their poems about Dartmoor, which has sustained my own writing so generously over the years, and Simon's come-all-ye singing at the start of the evening almost made me weep, as it could have leapt straight out of the pages of 'Dart'.  

Unfortunately we didn't stay till the end on account of Ted being a little restive after a time, it being his first poetry reading, but I hope we can revisit another time.  


  1. You live in such lovely country, and your tales and pictures of your rambles are a treat.

    1. Thanks, Donna - your poems which are so steeped in your very different landscape have inspired me xx