5 July 2015

Dartmoor

Bell over the main gate at Dartmoor Prison
Dartmoor is a national park in the far south west of England, Until last Monday it was an area that I had never explored. 

Before leaving the university in Exeter last Monday morning  I had mapped a ten mile walk I planned to undertake after visiting Princetown which is the location of the infamous Dartmoor Prison. This grim granite edifice was built in the early years of the nineteenth century - mostly to house American prisoners from The Forgotten War. It is still in use today.

I didn't begin my circular walk till half past two in the afternoon - parking in the hamlet of Jurston before looping up on to the moor itself. The highlight of this walk was discovering the stone row on Hurston Ridge. It runs for 143 metres and consists of two lines of ancient stones leading to the site of a cairn. There are ninety nine stones in total and it is very likely that the arrangement is over 4000 years old - first constructed when Dartmoor was probably forested.

Nobody knows for sure what the stone row was all about but one compelling argument suggests that it was to do with procession and the ritualistic honouring of  ancestors. There are numerous other very ancient sites on Dartmoor as well as more recent tin mine workings.

If you lived down there, so many walking adventures would be possible - preferably in clement weather - but the paths are not as well signposted as in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. You would need to have your wits about you.

I just got a taste of Dartmoor - not the full menu - but it was delightful to be out there plodding through unfamiliar country and that haunting stone row will live long in my memory.
Dartmoor Prison seen from afar
High Jurston Farm - where I parked before my walk
The stone row on Hurston Ridge
Dartmoor ponies are semi-wild
Bennett's Cross

12 comments:

  1. I have rarely seen it looking so clement....looking anything as every time I've been it's fogged, rained or snowed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess that was the usual view from your prison cell window. Tell me what were you in for again? Wasn't it tax evasion?

      Delete
    2. Sedition but don't tell everyone.

      Delete
    3. Okay I'll not tell anybody.

      Delete
  2. Stone Row is definitely interesting and I'm once again surprised by the lack of mountains. I have lived in the shadow of mountains all my life and the world seems bare where they are not.
    Love the wild ponies!
    Who was Bennett?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bennett's Cross may have been named after a sixteenth century tin mine owner - to mark his territory or it may have been a guide post for monks and other travellers moving between Benedictine monasteries in Exeter and Tavistock. Nobody knows for sure.

      Delete
  3. An intriguing area, Dartmoor. I've never been myself but heard/read many stories about it. Looks like there was nobody about the day you took your walk, apart from the ponies of course.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On my ten mile walk there were no other walkers at all but I spoke with a farmer's wife in the tiny hamlet of West Coombe when I couldn't figure out where the path went.

      Delete
  4. I've never walked on Dartmoor (and probably never will) but I fell in love with Exmoor the first time I visited.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wonder why Bennett was cross....

    Here's an interesting site for you, Yorky...re the Dartmoor stones -

    http://www.dartmoorwalks.org.uk/resource/rows.php

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS....here's another interesting site for you to browse at your leisure re the Dartmoor Stones...

      http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/stone_rows.htm

      Delete
    2. Lee - there is an opening for you as my blogging secretary but you will have to wear fishnet stockings and killer heels. Computer skills and shorthand are not required.

      Delete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.