I'd been cooped up for far too long. The weather had been miserable and I just hadn't felt like going anywhere much. Last Friday was just torrential rain and miserable. I looked, more in hope than expectation, at the weather forecast for the week-end and saw that Saturday was likely to be the best day of the year so far. I decided that I would take a chance because I wanted to go to Dartmoor. Dartmoor is a huge (by British standards) National Park in Devon in the south-west of England. It is a farmed wilderness of heathland, forests, and great granite outcrops called Tors. The Tors are what has been left behind after erosion has taken its toll on the land around them. You can see them on just about every horizon wherever you are on the Moor.
I set off at about six thirty on a cold Saturday morning and batted down the M5 and A38 on a journey I know very well. I used to work for a company that was based on the edge of Dartmoor and had to spend a lot of time at the head office. I got to Hound Tor just before sunrise; perfect. Hound Tor is said to be the place that inspired Conan Doyle to write The Hound of the Baskervilles, and it does have a creepiness to it, as well as an incredible beauty. As I got out of my car, having negotiated the very slippery minor roads (after Friday's rain there had been a hard frost overnight and the small, narrow roads were just sheets of ice) I saw a lady with a few dogs returning to her cottage beside the road near to where I parked. One of the dogs turned towards me, ignoring the lady's calls, and started to howl. It was still not quite light, I was at Hound Tor and here was a hound howling at me for all it was worth. The irony wasn't lost on me.
I made my way up over the steadily rising, still frozen and crunchy underfoot, ground to the huge rocks ahead of me. And this is what I saw.
A frozen dewpond
Hay Tor on the horizon
Looking back the other way, with a hint of snow on tops.
Sunrise through a gap in the rocks
That wonderful early morning light
The shapes that the silhouettes of the rocks make can be quite eerie
My personal favourite
I had some visitors passing through as I made my way back towards my car.
Another icy little pool amongst the rocks.
Then it was back to the car and the very sensible flask of hot coffee that I had had the foresight to bring with me. Must be getting sensible in my old age.