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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.

Wednesday 19 April 2023

A poetry jaunt to Devon

On Saturday poetry took me to Teignmouth in Devon for the launch of Rosie Jackson's new collection 'Love Leans over the Table', at which I was reading two poems, so I decided to make a day of it and visit my favourite place, which is Dartmoor.

Because of needing my energy for the reading, I decided not to do much of a walk, but instead drove right across the moor from Tavistock to Ashburton, stopping off on the way at a couple of favourite places. 

The first of these was the car park below Cox Tor, where I parked to walk along the Grimstone and Sortridge leat that skirts Barn Hill on Whitchurch Common to Windypost Cross. 

Beckamoor Brook

The aqueduct carrying the Grimstone and Sortridge Leat over Beckamoor Brook

The Grimstone and Sortridge Leat, with Vixen Tor in the middle distance

Clapper bridge over the leat

Apparently, there was once a smithy here, and this is a wheelwright's stone, the wheel and spokes being assembled on the flat surface, with the hub fitting into the dip in the middle. The rim of the wheel, which was made of iron, would then be heated on a forge, dropped onto the wheel and quenched with cold water, which had the effect of shrinking the rim to a tight fit.

Pregnant Dartmoor hill ponies

Windypost (or Beckamoor) Cross, dating from the 15th century and probably replacing a much earlier cross, coming into view on the horizon.

Where the leat splits, originally to provide farms near Pew Tor and Moortown with water

I could see a crow perched on gorse over on Feather Tor, and that, combined with the arrival of a party of people led by a shouty man, was enough to send me scuttling over for a bit of a sit-down.

Pew Tor from Feather Tor

Looking back at Windypost Cross, now being used as a scratching post by a black cow

A bunch of feathers from a ring-necked pheasant, some of them blood feathers; this didn't end well

After walking back to the car park, I drove on across the moor, turning right before Dartmeet to cross the West Dart at Hexworthy and stopping at Combestone Tor, which is conveniently near the road and provides fabulous views of the high moor and what goes, somewhat inelegantly, by the name of the Double Dart Gorge. 

A quizzical Dartmoor Blackface sheep

Looking west, with Longaford Tor and Bellever Tor on the horizon

Looking east

Hameldon Beacon, Honeybag Tor, Chinkwell Tor and Bell Tor, Sharp Tor, Haytor, Saddle Tor, Rippon Tor, Buckland Beacon

Dartmeet, centre, middle distance

Wild strawberry flowers

Then on to Shaldon and a quick change from moor mode to poetry mode in the ladies loos by Smuggler's Tunnel, the lane leading to which was full of primroses, violets and wild strawberry flowers. I was gasping for a mug of tea by this point, and hurried down to the Clipper in the hope of partaking while sitting on the jetty, but it had just closed; no matter, the Alice Cross Centre, where the launch of Rosie's collection was taking place, had, in  addition to a bar, a kettle and tea bags, so that was fine. 

And the evening was fine too; it was a privilege to be part of it among so may illustrious poets, not least Rosie.

Graeme Ryan, Jean Grimsey, Sue Proffitt, me, Helene Demetriades, Rosie Jackson, Wayne Smith, Ian Royce Chamberlain, and cellist Eliza Jacobs

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