Saturday afternoon Liam and I went out for a fabulous socially distanced lunch out with his family, where we had some delicious lasagne at Bonnie’s Brunch. A newly opened family run cafe in Plymouth we have all given two thumbs up to. We got back home and decided that even though the promised heat wave wasn’t quite as strong as anticipated, the weather was still far too nice to pass up! We packed up our bags and headed up to Venford Reservoir on Dartmoor, somewhere we had visited earlier this year with Liam’s parents (link). This time however, Liam had something new and exciting in store for me. I couldn’t wait!
I think getting outside and walking is one of life’s simple pleasures. It is pretty much free, and it gives you the opportunity to see and do things that you would have missed out on by staying indoors. As with all simple pleasures, sharing these walks with friends and family is even better than venturing out solo. That is why, after being tipped off that the Tamar Valley trains were running for free, I jumped at the opportunity to head out to Gunnislake with the family in tow. Suspension of cash payments due to Covid19 is a slim silver lining I had to take!
Driving across Dartmoor in sunny weather is always stunning. Heading out of Princetown, Emily and I stopped near Merrivale to start our afternoon. Walking to Kings Tor we wrapped around the Bronze Age settlements, taking in the stone rows, circles and standing stones that have been in place these past 4000 years. I always find it hard to imagine what it must have been like for prehistoric man in such a windswept and open environment. It makes it all the more amazing to think that as a species, even with the most primitive tools, we shaped our environment so early into our history that it would last for millennia.
Emily by the standing stone with the clearly visible remains of a stone circle in the background
After a Covid19 lockdown initiated hiatus, Emily and I made the most of the bank holiday and got out onto Dartmoor. It felt like it had been ages, and in all honesty it really had. 6 months of travel, poor weather and a strict lockdown had prevented us getting out to our local National Park for the best part of a year. Still, that’s the best thing about the outdoors. It’s there waiting for you and it’s all the more glorious for it.
Another weekend, another local adventure. Getting the 59 bus from the city centre to Sparkwell Emily and I visited Dartmoor Zoo to see the two new lionesses, Kimya and Nikita. They arrived on the 28th March from Longleat to keep Jasiri (the zoo’s resident lion) company. It has been on our radar to visit since Emily moved to Plymouth from Colorado because of the variety of big cats that live at the zoo. 3 African Lions, 2 Amur Tigers, 2 Cheetahs, 2 Carpathian Lynx and 1 Jaguar make up the largest Big Cat collection in the South West! With plenty of other animals to see, from zebras to meerkats, the zoo has a great collection to go and visit.
Benjamin Mee – owner of Dartmoor Zoo and author of We Bought a Zoo
Another sunny summers day and another trip to Dartmoor, if you live in Devon you really can’t beat it when the weather is this good! Burrator Reservoir is one of those places on Dartmoor that is great to visit, but does get overcrowded at summer time. Very easy to access, with an easy walk around the outside, it is understandably popular with families. I can’t recommend it enough if you wish to go for a walk that is neither challenging or far from civilisation, but still wish to take in some of the more stunning countryside that the southwest of England has to offer. However, if you are a keen adventurer like me, it may seem a tad less appealing than some more remote locations. In reality though this couldn’t be farther from the truth, as I will explain! So when my friend and colleague MRP (Matthew Rowing-Parker) suggested we go to Dartmoor this weekend for a hike and we decided we were going to Burrator I couldn’t have been happier.
Setting off early in order to ensure parking and avoiding the majority of Burrator’s weekend visitors, we arrived shortly before 9am. Perfect timing, the day was already hot, a few spaces were taken at the dam end, but largely the area was free and open. Walking across the south of the reservoir we headed along the reservoir path and the pair of us were impressed at how far the water had dropped due to the recent heatwave in the area.
So I know it’s been a while since my last post, things have been pretty hectic for me – not only is the World Cup going on, but for work I am taking part in a global fitness challenge, and while that in itself is super rewarding as I am spending more time out and about hiking, I am leaving myself little time for taking photos or writing blog posts. I have however, recently upgraded my laptop, and while in the process I accidentally managed to delete my iCloud (losing all the photos from recent hikes to Brown Willy and some travelling photos I didn’t save anywhere else), it does mean that posts in future should be easier and of a higher quality.
So with that out the way, this Wednesday just gone I went to Dartmoor and explored Wistman’s Woods. Parking just outside of the Two Bridges Hotel near Princetown, the woods are located just a mile north of the carpark. Wistman’s Wood isn’t a large forest; it is in fact very small. What it lacks for in size it makes up for in character. Trekking across the first mile of open moorland it is enchanting when the landscape changes. The trees are old oak and lie across a bed of broken granite boulders. Moss clings to both tree and rock alike, giving a choking and eerie feel to the area.
Climbing tors is something that has always interested me, walking on Dartmoor and scrambling up a rock face to be rewarded with panoramic views of Devon and Cornwall is something that is well worth the effort. Today I decided to visit Shaugh Prior parish with the aim of climbing the Dewerstone, a hill on the edge of Dartmoor that I have never conquered, and to discover some of the prehistoric relics to be found in the surrounding area.
For this hike I chose to use public transport, due to ease of access from Plymouth with a Monday-Saturday bus service, aiming to be eco-friendly where possible. To drive, from the A38, exit at Manadon Junction and take the A386 towards Tavistock. At Bickleigh Cross (immediately after the Bellever roundabout), turn right onto New Road and then take the third left onto Hele Lane. At the end of the lane, turn left towards Shaugh Prior. The car park is on the left immediately after a bridge over the River Plym.
Taking the 59 Bus from Plymouth, Royal Parade (A13), I got off at the White Thorn Inn at Shaugh Prior and headed into the woods. Immediately I was thrilled with my decision. Dartmoor can be open and barren at times, but there are plenty of old English woods that provide a welcome splash of green.
Woods to be found just to the North of Shaugh Prior