It is believed that Dartmoor was almost completely covered in forest thousands of years ago, but it was gradually chopped down and used by the people living there at that time. Nowadays there are evergreen plantations and just a few natural woods remain, Wistmans Wood for one. It is a small, remote wood, just eight acres at a height of 1300 feet above sea leve,l with mostly oak trees, stunted by the poor soil and altitude. The surrounding area is open moorland, grazed by sheep, cattle and ponies. Without the clitter, fallen from the tors further up the hillside, the grazing animals would have put paid to Wistmans long ago. As it is, the clitter makes it impossible for them to gain foothold there.
Wistmans is one of many Dartmoor sites that is shrouded in myth and legend. Its name derives from Saxon wissen, to know, so Wissman’s or Wistman’s Wood, means wisemans wood and refers to the Druids and their sacred grove. You may indeed encounter the ghosts of druids past, if you dare to visit in the dark of the night. Far worse might be an encounter with the devil and his pack of fearful wisht hounds, Wistmans may be where he keeps them.
Rumour has it that adders lurk between every boulder, ready to strike if you dare clamber over, to find a path through the wood. What’s more likely to happen is that you will slip on damp moss and break an ankle, or worse, between these ancient granite rocks.
So brave traveller is you visit, listen for baying hounds, keep your eyes out for serpents, be careful what you turn your back on, and most of all if there’s a red flag flying stay away – the military have a firing area nearby and you don’t want to get shot!
Watch out for adders
The wood on a bright day
Ferns, moss and lichen
Beware the Serpent
Gnarled and twisted
Wizened and moss covered oak
Scarce hoarier seems the ancient Wood Whose shivered trunks of age declare What scath of tempests they have stood In the rock’s crevice rooted there; Yet still young foliage, fresh and fair, Springs forth each mossy bough to dress, And bid e’en Dartmoor’s valleys share A Forest-wilderness”. Sophie Dixon -1829.
. . . was last week, and I spent two evenings there enjoying the street entertainment and the lovely relaxed atmosphere.
As always there were lots of crazy characters around.
Good food, I remembered my favourite from last year, so joined the queue again.
For falafel and goodness salad stuffed pitta with grilled halloumi on top.
There was folk dance around the town, and beside the sea.
and the girls from Fosbrook accompanied their dancers on violin.
A nice drop of special Annings cider!
The fabulous samba band Street Heat, chilled outside the Anchor before their performance on the sea front.
I burnt a few calories dancing to the beat. You can check them out here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2UI5jWqxBw
As if this wasn’t delightful enough, I also had a lush salted honeycomb ice cream
Jo Bryant if you come to the south west next year come in early august :-)
Saturday was one of those steamy July days when a craft marquee isn’t the best place to spend the day. Luckily for me, I was able to escape at regular intervals and check out some of the goings on at the Mid Devon Show. There’s always lots to see, but I only ever manage little glimpses. Here are some of them, starting with some classic cars.
Classic sports car
Rows of Minis
A splendid 1913 Rover
An old local fire engine
Being a country show there are always plenty of flowers.
Cottage garden plants
Lots to choose from
Bugs hotels are very popular
Add some rural crafts.
Willow basket making
Spinning a yarn
Bobbins for Honiton lace
I’d better not linger here
But the Ceylon Curry House do the best lunch!
The odd tractor is a must
And I’d love one of these.
A burst of Kalash Tribal is a must see.
‘The Widecombe Wag’ interviews Kelly
Dynamic and feminine
What would a country show be without some livestock?
So, that was the Mid Devon Show 2014, and I’m already looking forward to next year, maybe you’ll be there too?
On a sunny Sunday at Beer in East Devon, it pays to be around bright and early to enjoy the peaceful beach. With blue skies and the crunch of the waves on the pebbles and just a few people it’s a perfect spot.
The stuff of coastal folk
Looking West, Branscombe is around the corner, I don’t think you can walk it at beach level, but you can always climb up to the South West Coast Path.
I hope you liked an early peep at Beer?
The craft fair season has begun and today I’ve been to a regular venue at Beer, in east Devon. It was a glorious spring day with a cool breeze coming off the sea, and lovely for a stroll.
Plants will always strive to grow in the most unlikely places, including high up on the cliff face at Beer, the bright yellow and purple ones are wild wallflower. I think the more delicate yellow are a type of wild cabbage and the paler mauve are a mallow variety.
The beach at Beer is very special, unspoilt and traditional, with ice cream and crab sandwiches, pebbles and driftwood and the opportunity to try your hand at mackerel fishing.
If ever you’re in Devon, pay Beer a visit, try a crab sandwich and then perhaps a walk on the coast path to build up an appetite for cream tea!
For the 100 word challenge for grown ups this week I wrote about the storm damage to the trainline at Dawlish. I’ve since been to see how things are going, but it was no surprise that I couldn’t get very close. Here are some phone pics.
The damaged line closed for now
The walkway under the bridge is too dangerous, see the ruined sea wall.
Each concrete section weighs about 4 tons
Concrete sections to repair the sea wall
Looking west, work is taking place 24-7
Dawlish is a quaint little seaside town ful of old -fashioned charm.
The river runs through the town, the place to feed teh ducks and black swans
The home of the famous black swans – Fifi probably came from here!
Cream tea, ice cream, pasties and cakes!
Real ice cream with a dollop of Devon clotted cream on top!
The train journey west continues to Teignmouth and from there you can get a ferry to Shaldon. I ‘ve posted about both in the past.
Imagine yourself ninety years ago. You find yourself sailing past one of the loveliest parts of England, an unspoilt valley by the sea in Devon. You decide you have to buy it and have the architect Oswald Milne design your perfect country house.
The house was built so that all the main rooms faced south and once it was complete Milne, who was Sir Edward Lutyens assistant designed the hard landscape.
The stone was quarried on the land and the landscaping even included channeling a stream through a rill, damming to form pools before it returned to its natural state in the lower slopes of the valley.
Stand and enjoy the view,
your own private beach lies below.
and all the while your paradise is being planted with a sheltering belt of Monterey pine and holm oak that will eventually create a micro climate.
One day your paradise will be filled with fragrant and exotic plants, flowers so colourful that everyone will want to see it.
Tomorrow perhaps I’ll show YOU how it turned out.