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.
Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and last year, just after my visit, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As recently as last month it was putting on a pyrotechnic display, closing the nearby airport at Catania. All was calm when I was there. Travelling friend and I stayed in an hotel with a distant view – if you craned your neck a little on the balcony, and ignored the buildings in the way.
We went up twice, first of all independently and we couldn’t resist a guided tour a couple of days later.
Here are some photos taken at about 2000 metres, cool and grey with mile after mile of lava from various past eruptions.
In June there were miles of empty roads, lots of stopping places for photos and an almost creepy stillness.
You quite quickly descend to sunshine and there the flora and fauna is pretty.
Etna can be seen from all over the east of Sicily and when you’re up there the views down are amazing.
Towards the sea.
I enjoyed looking back on my time on Etna, I’ll post some photos of the guided tour soon!
Do you have towns that you regularly drive by and just don’t get round to stopping? I have several, and on Saturday I did get round to this one! Bridport, in Dorset (my second favourite county) is just 40 miles from home. I bypass it nearly every month on the drive to see my daughter, often wondering what it’s like. This time I got to visit because my friend and I had a table at a craft fair there, for the first time.
Bridport is known for its thriving arts and hosts the prestigious Bridport Prize for writing each year, I’d like to be good and brave enough to enter one day. The craft fair took place in the Arts Centre, where Dee, the manager fell for my hand made cards, thanks Dee :-)
Saturday is market day and this particular one was also the annual carnival, so the little town was positively bursting at the seams, buzzing and vibrant, with tourists mingling with locals and market traders.
I love markets and dashed around like a headless chicken, wanting to buy, see as much as possible and soak up the atmosphere. All the time I was aware that my friend was on her own and possibly busy while I went walkabout, snapping away with my phone camera and wishing I had my big girls Canon. Never mind, here are some of the things I saw.
I managed to resist buying anything! The book stall was most tempting – of course, but I’ve forbidden myself from buying any more until I’ve reduced my unread pile. And stuff? well I mustn’t take anything home unless I’m prepared to take something to the charity shop. What I did get though was bread, glorious locally made with green olives, sun dried tomatoes and cheese and the most heavenly texture. I wish I’d bought more. I won’t be bypassing Bridport on a Saturday again.
Hope you enjoyed my visit!
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 garden at Sissinghurst, in Kent was created in the 1930’s by Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicolson. Now a National Trust property, it is looked after by a large team of gardeners and is divided into ‘rooms’, each with a different style, planting scheme colour theme. Here are some photos, I have masses of flower shots but for now I’ll show you general views of the garden.
Sissinghurst was beautiful, it totally lived up to my expectations. There were a good few plants I’ve rarely or never seen, and many dark purple flowers which are my favourites. It was the last day of my holiday and I was suffering from garden burn out, they were all running into one, but I hope you like this little glimpse.
Have you missed me a little? I guess not, but since last weekend when Christine and Stuart were over from Dadirri, I’ve been away for a few days. I’ve taken around a thousand photos and these are the first few I will show you.
Entrances, doors and thresholds, they always fascinate me and I know I’m not alone. The gallery has pictures from Kent and Sussex, mainly National Trust properties, I hope you enjoy them, click for a bigger view.
My sweet bird of Sirigu! If ever you get the chance to visit Ghana, don’t hesitate for a moment. It really is a wonderful country with a rich cultural, fascinating history and the friendliest of people.
This is probably my favourite travel buy of all time.