Day 142 (6.4.17): Dartmoor

We woke this morning excited to begin our trip to Cornwall.  Our ultimate destinatoin was Wadebridge in Cornwall, where we rented a small cottage through Airbnb.  Along the way, we planned to stop in Dartmoor National Park, a huge wilderness area in Devon.

DartmoorWe’re still not sure exactly what a “moor” is, but from what we saw and what we’ve read, a moor is a sort of hilly grassland.  Our first stop in Dartmoor was a large stone outcropping called Hookney Tor.  The chicklets love to climb rocks, and the tor was no exception.

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From the tor it was a short hike to the remains of a 3000-year-old village called Grimspound.

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The village was much larger than anything we have seen from this time period, including more than 20 large stone foundations for buildings within a massive perimeter wall about 450 feet in diameter.

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The stones used for the buildings are likewise enormous, which surely is why the remains of the village have lasted for so long.

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As we started back towards the car, the rain started, and our hike turned into a run.  A bit damp, we continued our drive through Dartmoor towards Postbridge.  Along the way, we saw a newborn horse, prompting a u-turn.  This is not the kind of crowd that can drive past baby horses.

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After watching the colt for a while, we eventually said our goodbyes and continued on to the small town of Postbridge, which is most famous for its Thirteenth Century clapper bridge.  Yep.  That bridge is about 800 years old.

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Enormous flat stones span the distance between the supports, so that only four horizontal stones are needed to run from one side of the river.

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We tromped around the area for a bit, passing through a gate with a clever closing mechanism that used a stone weight.

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After exploring the bridge and surrounds, we stopped for lunch at a nearby pub, where we warmed up and started to dry.  Generally reinvigorated, we drove another thirty in search of a small, intriguing forest called the Wistman’s Wood.  It turned out that the woods could only be reached by hiking for about an hour.  With the rain still threatening to return, we found the trailhead and set off (with all of the girls’ wet rain gear strapped to my back to dry).  The hike across the rugged moorlands was spectacular.

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We soon reached the ancient stand of trees nestled in a small valley, and it was well worth the trip.  The trees in the woods grow out of a jumble of huge rocks, and this arrangement has dramatically stunted their growth.  Despite their small size, the trees are actually hundreds of years old.  In the constantly wet climate, lichen and mosses have also covered the gnarled trunks of the trees.

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Lydie and Cassie had a great time scrambling through the rocks and the small trees.

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All of us enjoyed soaking up the special atmosphere of this unusual place, although the effect on the chicklets was a little less calming than on Julie and me.

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Though we all would have loved to have stayed longer, we knew we were pushing our luck with the weather.  We hiked back to the car, and set off on a meandering course towards our ultimate destination for the trip, Wadebridge.  Along the way, we stopped at some small standing stones, which we found unimpressive, though that may have had less to do with the stones and more to do with the number of extraordinary things we have seen on our trip.   We also passed through the small town of Lydford, though it was too late to visit the very small Lydford Castle or the Lydford Gorge.  Lydie was convinced that she owned the nearly eponymous town, and we all agreed.

We pressed on to Wadebridge, and found our cottage.  We had not expected our day in Dartmoor to be so extraordinary, and were delighted with the hidden gems we had discovered.

-Will

 

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