Monday, 11 August 2014

On the Roof of the World ...

Time for a bit of moor walking. We started at Dartmeet and were soon far from the crowds, toiling up Dartmeet hill on Yartor Down ... 
... stopping on the way at the Coffin Stone.  Between the mid 13th and the early 20th centuries, all dead bodies in the Hexworthy and Dartmeet areas were carried to Widecombe for burial in the churchyard. On leaving Dartmeet, the pall-bearers would have to ascend this hill, and the Coffin Stone was handily placed to rest the coffin while they took a breather. Its distinctive appearance came about when a particularly unpleasant local was being taken for burial. The minute his box touched the stone, a bolt of lightening flew down from the heavens. The moorfolk dived for cover as it struck the coffin and engulfed it in flames. As the fire died down, they saw that not only had the coffin and corpse been consumed but the stone itself had been split in two. The moormen decided that this was a sign from the Almighty, who was clearly not going to permit such an evil man to be buried in hallowed ground, and went home, thankful not to have to carry their burden any further.

Our initial waymark, Sharp Tor, all gleamy with blossoming gorse, soon came into view.

To reach it, we walked around the head of the valley, crossing the infant Rowbrook (rhymes with cow).  The skies were huge.  

We were now on the roof of the world, looking over to Haytor Rocks, Saddle Tor and Rippon Tor ... 

... the double Dart Gorge ...

... Combestone Tor, sunlit in the middle distance ... 

... and back the way we'd come, to Yar Tor.  

It was good to reacquaint myself with one of my favourite trees, a thorn sprouting improbably from a crack between rocks. 

We took it in turns to sit under it for a time.  


On to Rowbrook Farm, to ask permission to cross their fields to reach the River Dart, along which we would return to Dartmeet.  I was excited about this as, like the Coffin Stone, the farm has folklore attached, namely The Cry of Dart.


Here the sound of the River Dart in the gorge can be heard plainly.  Sometimes it sounds like a human voice. If you hear it, beware, for the Dart requires a human sacrifice every year and will call its next victim when the time falls due.  

One lad, Jan Coo, who worked at the farm centuries ago, was convinced he heard the river calling his name. One stormy night he heeded the call and was never seen again. 

Unfortunately our luck failed at this point as there was no one at home.  We had to abandon our proposed route and instead crossed the brook further up the valley to contour around the hill, past the suds of this sheep. 

Instead of walking alongside the Dart, we caught occasional glimpses of it in its gorge.  

Here the West Dart, with stories of Crow Tor and Wistman's Wood ...  

... rushes to mingle with its twin from the East ...   

where we sat and paddled, undisturbed by all the tourists at the car park a couple of hundred yards upstream, who visit Dartmeet and yet never actually see it.  






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