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The Moors of Devon

UNITED KINGDOM | Monday, 23 May 2022 | Views [121]

Magnificent view from Torbay

Magnificent view from Torbay

THE DRIVE FROM NEWHAVEN TO TORQUAY is a long one—it took nearly six-hours. We didn’t have time to stop along the famous Jurassic Coast, nor would we have wanted to—Sunday no day to compete with the locals on their day out. But we did throw in a stop for a traditional “Sunday Roast.”  

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           Sunday Roast: Beef Wellington for John, Pork for Connie

Villa Capri in Torbay looks fantastic from the outside—inside, too, at first glance—with floor-to-ceiling windows and a great view. Then you notice there is no sofa, only a few once-elegant-but-now-sprung armchairs, twin beds in the bedroom and a minimum of cookery items in the kitchen. 

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                Villa Capri, Torbay

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                "London Bridge" from Torbay cliffs

Devon weather can be soggy and cold—we had to text Jacqui on Monday to turn on the heat. We figured the misty weather wouldn’t matter much out on the moors so we set out for Dartmoor National Park. You might recall Dartmoor from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Hound of the Baskervilles." It’s a dreary place on the nicest of days—which Monday most definitely wasn’t! 

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                   Dartmoor National Park

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                        Caution—narrow roads

One of the most iconic sights on the moor are the Dartmoor ponies. There are only about 1500 ponies today—down from 30,000 in 1950—but written records of them go back to 1012 and hoofprints have been dated to 3500 years. Though “wild,” the ponies are actually tended to by Commoners who live on the moor and have the responsibility for their care.

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                  Long-mained Dartmoor Pony

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                    Dartmoor Ponies

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                        Celtic Cross

Driving on the left becomes a non-issue on some of the moor roads—there is only one narrow lane! When oncoming cars meet, one must quickly find a place to pull over or sometimes reverse until the road widens a bit. The driver who passes usually smiles and waves his thanks. It’s really harrowing when the other vehicle is a big SUV! Obviously one does not speed.

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                       The Symbol of Chagford

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                      St. Michael's, Chagford

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                       Traditional Needlepoint Pew Cushions

We began our exploration in the village of Chagford, a former tin-mining town, or "stannary." Its symbol is three rabbits with their ears forming a triangle.The stained-glass version that once adorned the wine store has disappeared but the bunnies can still be found even on the needlepoint pillows in the family pews of St. Michael’s church. 

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             Widecombe-in-the-Moor

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                     Dartmoor's famous for its "Tors"

A stop at Widecombe-in-the-Moor is a relief from the narrow lanes, if even only for a few minutes. Widecombe consists only os the St. Pancras Church, a few shops and an ad hoc 2£ parking lot. Just down the road are several of the rocky “tors” where hikers, at least those prepared for the weather, squish their way through the mushy moors.

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        12th Century "Clapper Bridge"

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                Connie on the trail

The hamlet of Postbridge, another wide spot in the road, hosts the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre and an ancient “clapper bridge” dating from the 12th Century. The bridge is still used as part of a hiking trail as Connie demonstrates. For us it was a good place to stretch our legs, make a U-turn and head home for a late lunch.

 

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