Monday, 26 October 2009

Autumn on Dartmoor

It's crisp and clear, the air has a tang to it, the wind chilly and strong enough to make you sniffle. The moorgrass has died off, earning it's alternative name of 'white grass'. We walk out from Postbridge, up on towards the North Moor over a juicy peat, covered with short-cropped sedges and grasses. A steady gentle climb up to a small stream, then a steeper path beside a bog of green-gold Sphagnum mosses interspersed with taller clumps of rush and sedge. We carry on into an increasingly stiff wind, which blows bands of cloud along it, so that long, linear shadows stream along the hillsides. Looking back towards Grimspound and Postbridge, the hazy light patterns the more distant tors and hillsides with a dusty silver-blue.

View to Grimspound

Looking to the North Moor

Looking with the light, the landscape almost looks two-dimensional, with a diffuse pattern of short trampled and cropped vegetation showing bright green still between the cream-buff swathes of dead moorgrass and mat-grass. The East Dart river makes a dark, stark contrast as it gurgles down off the high moor, studded with granite boulders. We drop down off the saddle toward the river, the peat underfoot firm, but squelching with water under every footfall.

After lunch, we wander back down the river to the waterfall - more a cascade than a proper fall by most standards, but respectable for the high moors. The East Dart rushes headlong over a lip of granite which is speckled dark with mosses and lichens, yet glinting bright in the sunshine with flecks of mica and quartz.

Na and clitter


We follow the waters back downstream to the famous clapper bridge, across the face of a steep spur, grazed tight by belted galloway cattle and rampantly multicoloured sheep, through trampled peat which sucks at our boots as we slither across, over cropped heath which bounces under our feet, across precarious stepping-stones, and finally through in-bye land, fenced and semi-tame until we reach the clatter of motorhomes and families criss-crossing the river at Postbridge.

Multicoloured sheep

View back northwest from the valley of the East Dart

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