My love for walking has been with me since I was a child. Growing up we had to walk everywhere if we wanted to go visit our friends. Since being in Devon I had never really ventured up on Dartmoor. I stand and stare at it every day watching the weather roll across the horizon from my window at work wishing I was there.
So last Sunday the weather was sunny and chilly which to me is a good day for walking, I stuffed my rucksack with food and headed out for the day. We started from the very pretty village of Belstone, only 30 minutes from where I live. There's a village carpark, get there early as it soon fills up.
We went out through the left of the village and walked on to the moor through the bottom gate, 10 minutes into the walk we saw a green woodpecker, dipping and bobbing as it flew across the Belstone valley. The gorse (Ulex europaeus) with its vibrant yellow flower standing out against the grey stones dotted across the moor acting as a welcome wind break. Being a member of the pea family, it serves purpose for small mammals and insects as a home and a source of food, us humans can eat it too.
Once out of the valley we were out in the open, exposed to the elements of mother nature. I was fascinated with the grass it was the colour of straw and the noise it made with the wind rushing through it tricking you into thinking there were cars driving past as it made a constant droning sound.
The sheer size of the moor is huge, at times intimidating as we stand there taking it all in. We walked up on to Oke Tor where a welcomed cuppa and a piece of chocolate was had. It was nice to see teenagers in their groups doing the Ten Tors. Once back on the path we noticed the track we were walking on, uneven with all the grey stones and wondered who had walked here before us. What footwear they would have been wearing because it certainly wouldn't have been a nice comfy walking boot. How many shepherds guarded their flocks or drove the cattle to Okehampton market.
The army use the moors for firearms training and has done for many years. As you walk across the top you see dug outs where they would be lying for hours trying not to be found. When I go on walks, I always keep a look out for treasure and this day I got lucky because placed very near the surface of a patch of black soil was a small round object that caught my eye. Pulled it out of the dirt and thought I had found a pellet. Then we found some smaller ones, 6 in total and quite heavy. Turns out that the bigger one of the 6 was from an 18th century musket gun and the smaller ones were pistols and they are all solid lead.
My friend Lizzie did some research and discovered that in 1875 the first temporary camp was established between East Okement and Taw rivers where firing lasted for 3 weeks so the musket and pistol lead shots we found could be from then. So much history and things to discover on Dartmoor. Yes, it was cold and the wind numbed your skin but the sun shone. We had 5 hours of discovery and 9 miles walked. I really did fall in love with this magical place.
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