Two and a half month later… My castle has kept on moving. It’s been quite a couple of months, it seems as if all has changed, yet it feels very much the same. Perhaps I am finally becoming my castle?

After an amazing time at High Heathercombe—which I’m sure I’m going to repeat—and a fabulous trip to “the continent”, the Castle moved to the South-West edge of Dartmoor. For a weekend. To visit Nick of multitalented fame. We met at the Permaculture course last November in High Heathercombe, and she spoke of her yarrow fields and permaculture projects. The idea was to come here end of April… well, Life, as usual, had other things in mind.

Grimspound from Hookney Tor.
Oh, I miss that granite giant…

And why do it via the easy, seven or so hours walk, if there is a beautiful, contorted, unexpectedly climby and tick-full, exhaustingly stunning way?

The estimated two days of about five to seven hours walk each were the result of the very obvious understimation of the difficulty of the path and the very evident overestimation of the body condition.  Yes, it took one and a half days, but for half the way.  Leaving High Heathercombe at around 13h probably didn’t help…

But the moors were wonderful. South of Grimspound, following the Two Moors Way down through Mel’s Tor. Spending the night wild-camping at Aish Tor (except it is a cairn instead of a tor), the very tough and wonderful tent being relentlessly buffeted by winds until about five thirty, then getting out to a fantastic view, hiding from the wind behind the cairn while enjoying a delicious breakfast…

The room by the cairn at Aish Tor, Dartmoor
(picture by P Pioch)
A morning view worth the sleepless night…
(picture by P Pioch)

Then down to the Dart Valley Reserve, and westwards on the northern footpath, which sometimes just seemed to disappear amongst the ancient rocks. Up and a down granite outcrops, forgetting that the backpack makes me a good ten cm taller and thus shaking more than one unsuspecting tree, stopping every so often to remove the many ticks steadily going up the trousers (later, being amazed at having got only one… I certainly removed more than a hundred)… well, the way got very long.

The winding silvery Dart River singing on our left, the slippery path through a maze of moss-covered roots, and shining grey rocks, gentle trees russling over our heads were a constant reminder of how beautiful life is, no matter how hard the horse-flies bite, or how painful the ankle is…

Waters darting through lush forest


Woody magic
A view worth the sweat and bites

The climbing up and down rocks and steep slopes did get exhausting. We managed to get to Dartmeet at around 15h, without much energy left, and, after a lunch of cornish pasty and sandwiches (thank you, lady at the Dartmeet shop, for attending to our needs after-hours!), started the way towards Burrator Reservoir, the next desired stop… but the legs had other plans… and convinced our brains that the fog on the moors was potentially dangerous, so Nick and Ryan graciously came to the rescue at Hexworthy. And even more, they made their Nest available… I felt like the princess of a fairy tale, sleeping in one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever laid on, waking up to the sound of birds and soft rain, surrounded by, nay, immersed in art. As Nick herself says it in this video about their glamping, it is very special to lay in such a comfortable bed and feel the breeze and see the meadow extending down the valley…

The Nest
An art piece by Nick Viney and Ryan E Rodgers.
The perfect hideout to regain energy and reconnect.
A most comfortable bed… it took ages to get up

Nick started designing her garden last winter, on a bit of over-grazed pasture that now, barely half a year later, is more like a forest… all sorts of delicious plants growing amidst an explosion of borage and mustard… Since three weeks we’re here (yes, we came just for a weekend…), not only weeding and planting in that amazing garden, but developing small projects, adding beds, and simply enjoying being in this beautiful place (more on that soon!).

It is good to have a bit of grounding, and I am immensely grateful to Nick and Ryan for their straightforward hospitality. Being with such artists also brings the urge to create, to draw, make music, and write… now the challenge is to get time organised. Something I learned at the Permacultre Livelihood course last year… and my biggest work in progress.

I do miss Heathercombe, the moors, Grimspound… and especially those Fairies of the Wood that make that place what it is (yes, I owe you all a blog entry on that). I miss them terribly… and I have them in my heart, where they sing, and whiz out their magic spells, and make the sun shine with their smiles.

And then I go to the garden, look for plants I want to get to know… walk to Yelverton with a view to the nearby Tors… harvest edible leaves and flowers for our food… share dreams… and learn. Learn learn learn…

A wealth of colour and fantastic flavour…
the best reward for caring for your soil.

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