Back on Dartmoor

Saturday morning, a bright start after early rains, so set off early to a favourite breakfast haunt, Ullacombe Farm.
Appetite satiated, just a few minutes drive and arrive at the car park of Haytor, one of the most popular destinations of Dartmoor.

The tor stands majestically at the top of a small incline, it is only once I reach the top that the wind hits, the forecast storm is due later in the day but the wind speed is already significant, so much so, it is a challenge standing still enough to take photos!

The destination is Haytor quarry, used during the 1800-1900’s, the granite from which was taken for the building of London bridge, it is also from here that part of the ‘granite tramway’ is still in evidence, the tramway was designed to carry granite from the local quarries and taken to Teignmouth for shipping.

The construction began in 1776 and was built by George Templar, this route is a recognised walk called the ‘Templar way’

For a few moments the quarry is devoid of the usual traffic of sightseers, so I am able to get a few long exposures of the water, depicting a scene of peace  and tranquility, a far cry from the industry that once existed here.

Highlight of my day, was watching from a distance the Dartmoor ponies grazing, as I move closer, they look up, and perceive no threat, so carry on business as usual, except the smallest of the group who decides that I need further investigation.
The next few minutes are spent further building trust, as he allows me to pet him, nudging me for more if I dare to stop, then he turns and returns to the equine fold to tell all .

As the morning turns to noon, more walkers arrive, keen to take in the scenery of Dartmoor, it is my cue to head back home after another enjoyable Dartmoor trip



A place of solitude

We all have a favourite place, a place for contemplation, somewhere that possibly inspires us, or simply somewhere that is a haven from the demands of our ‘want it yesterday’ mindset.

For some, it may be the endless miles of sun kissed sand of a tropical beach, for me, it is the open expanse of Dartmoor, with its ever changing moods, its majestic tors and dramatic skies that offer solace from the mayhem.

While I have always lived within reasonably easy reach of the moor, it is only over the last few years, that I have come to appreciate this natural wonder on my doorstep.

During the summer season, Dartmoor is well populated with tourists, from the summit of many tors, a rainbow of  brightly coloured weatherproof jackets are mere specks in the distance, by some of the fast flowing river attractions, stepping stones are Dartmoor’s obstacle course for children and adults alike.

Yet, there are places to be found, that have yet to be reached by the ever growing tendrils of tourism, one such place was somewhere myself and my fellow Dartmoor / Photo enthusiasts had first explored back in the early spring.

While not far from the well beaten routes, the lack of car parking is key to the virtual anonymity of one of my favorite spots on Dartmoor.

It was hard to believe that in the middle of the holiday season, I was sat quite happily by a fast flowing river, in perfect solitude, watching cotton wool clouds sail across the horizon, with nothing more than a few Dartmoor ponies  and the occasional dog walker for company.

Those that know the moor well, may have a good idea of where I am talking about, from the images above, those that do not know the moor as well, will have a very pleasant surprise, when they stumble upon my place of solitude

Powder Mills – Dartmoor

Situated just outside of Princetown on Dartmoor, the Powdermills Pottery is one of the many places on the moor with a rich and interesting history.

The powdermills were built around 1844, to produce gunpowder or ‘black powder’, for both the military and the local granite quarries such as Foggintor, Swell tor and Merrievale and tin mines in the local area.

The remains of the original powdermills are now listed by the Department of the environment as sites of special or architectural interest.

Remains of the flues and water wheel housings are well spread around the area, this being due the volatile nature of the product being manufactured!
Local leats were used to power the water wheels for the manufacturing process.

Public footpaths within the site will take the keen walker to two bridges in one direction, or the magical Wistman’s wood in another.

For the photographer, the site offers an abundance of textures, colours and ruins, that make Dartmoor the fascinating place it is.

Venford Falls

Another Sunday, another trip to the place that is fast becoming a second home, Dartmoor.

A bright and sunny April Sunday, this time to find the well hidden gem of Venford falls.

Armed with instructions on how to find the falls, we walk along the main footpath for a while until we hear the sound of fast running water in the valley below.

Our instructions recommend the use of walking poles to reach the falls, advice that would be well heeded as the walk path down is not that well trodden and is pretty steep! Finally we reach the sun dappled valley, with the falls cascading majestically below us.

Because the falls are so well hidden, we were able to take our time getting the shots we wanted without disturbance or interruption, perfect conditions for the long exposure shots we wanted.

From a photography point of view, the light was fantastic as it filtered through the woodland onto the ferns and floor below, where with one of my favourite 50mm vintage lenses, I sought out the most appealing images

The route we took back up was somewhat meandering, as we spent time looking for places to cross to the opposite path and while it is possible to cross the river in places, the rocks look very slippery, and the water flows through rapidly!

A place well worth visiting, but be prepared for some challenging terrain.