Monday, November 13, 2006

Dartmoor

Tavistock from the edge of Dartmoor.

Slept in this morning after staying up to watch a DVD of Joss Whedan's Serenity - which blew away Star Wars with a fraction of the budget! Today was set aside to roam Dartmoor so there was no urgency to push on. I dropped into Tavistock to get a car-charger for my phone, and while waiting for the store to open took stock of the greenish brick used to fashion the major buildings around Bedford Square. A distinctive green, that may be lichened, ... to a bad pun.

Dartmoor is the largest "wild" space in Southern England, a high hilly ground dotted in fact with ponies and rocky tors, and in literary imagination with mysterious affairs regarding the Hound of the Baskervilles. For the first couple of hours, I drove through autumnal colour across the moor's southern reaches, Princetown, Two Bridges, Widecombe and Dartmeet, stopping often to enjoy a wide prospect, a quick-running river or ponies feeding by the roadside. At the easternmost point of our day we paused in Bovey Tracey, where I had lunch above the Devon Craft Guild's gallery.

The early part of the afternoon was spent at the House of Marbles, and it goes without saying that a visit is essential if you've lost yours. However, amongst the more pedestrian store offerings were displays of fine marbles, and exhibits of their history and of Bovey Tracy's contribution to English pottery. On days when the firing rooms are working I'm sure it's an even more compelling visit. While the marbles themselves, particularly the fine collector models (at prices up to £150), and the mechanical marble runs, were almost hypnotically attractive I didn't even bring back one sample. My marble playing days at Queanbeyan infants school were nearly brought to an end one day in North Sydney when I got it into my head to see how many marbles I could get into my head. That is to say, how many I could hold in my mouth. My mother had to hold me up by my ankles to shake the wretched things out of my throat.

Stupid sod blocking the road.
Retracing the road westwards, we visited and partially climbed Haytor and then Hounds Tor with the remains of an abandoned medieval settlement in its shadow.

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