After a convolutedly wonderful, if unfinished and rather exhausting, walk from one corner of Dartmoor to the other, and quite a number of weeks spent immersed in an amazing garden, in grounding myself and finding a path forward, we found out that the straight way between Leewood and High Heathercombe is actually quite beautiful and much easier. Especially since a bus runs from Yelverton–a mere half hour walk away–to Postbridge, shortening the way to roughly half. That still leaves around three hours of walking through moors and forests. The overall trip only takes about half a day, so it has already happened twice in a bit more than a fortnight.

The path from Postbridge to Grimspound passes through the very beautiful Lower Merripit Farm, house of Carolyn Hyllier and Nigel Shaw. I didn’t know anything about them, but as soon as we stepped across the gate, something moved very deep inside me. My eyes were streaming tears by the moment we reached the little stream, and I stood amidst the mossy trees gasping for air. I felt such a longing for a place like that…

Argentine sounds of the water on the stones and the chimes on the tree make a beautiful background to birdsong at Lower Merripit stream.

Later I found out that Carolyn and Nigel have basically built the land I dream about: a place to teach and reach, to make music, create, grow. Now it’s my intention to meet them sometime, maybe learn to make frame drums from scratch.

A cascade of mushrooms by the Lower Merripit stream.

Then comes Soussons Down, a conifer (mostly non-native spruce) plantation set up in the late 40s. It’s impressively soft and light inside, tree stumps and earthy ridges covered with moss. Beautiful, and yet too homogenous. The richness of a natural forest is so evidently missing. Monocultures have something really perturbing to them… The UK Forestry Commission is aware of the many benefits of converting the non-native conifer plantations to native woodlands, and are indeed planning on re-wilding a small amount of the forests they manage. Not enough, in some people’s view–and in mine, too.

Abstractly beautiful, the plantation’s monoculture leads to an eerie silence. Peaceful, yet not inviting.

Anyway. On the south east corner of Soussons there’s one of the most visited stone circles of Dartmoor, Ringastan. Which I haven’t visited… yet.

The path goes then up and down gentle hills covered in heather, gorse and grasses, now shining in contrasting colours, all the way to Grimspound and Hookney Tor. From there it’s less than an hour to High Heathercombe. Through one of my favourite moors… or maybe it’s feeling close to home what makes it so nice.

Mid August we came for the High Heathercombe Canoeing Experience. And doing some gardening and cooking and lots of hugging.

John had the best crew… in his second trip as a skipper from Canoe Adventures.

Just before that, the “Why Don’t You…? Club” of the Cornwall Neighbours for Change was here, filling the place with energy and excitement. And leaving lovely thoughts and memories behind.

Felt fairie welcomes you to High Heathercombe.
Art by the kids from CN4C.

Now, beginning of September, it’s time for Foot to Earth, so we’ve been here a week to prepare this beautiful place for a lot of dance, song, and colour… and people! And we’re right in the middle of it…

The Big and Beautiful Tent from Earth Dances.
In the heart of Dartmoor, High Heathercombe.

“We are moving breathing beings, part of this rich tapestry of the living cosmos. Our lives are affected by all that is within and without us. We belong. And each of our lives is a unique expression, a unique opportunity.” From the stunning Denise Rowe.

The fabulous Denise dancing, with Kennedy Chinyere bringing the beautiful Zimbawean rythms to us.

But before the camp started, we had some time to prepare, which included harvesting the abundance of blackberries for deserts at the café… and of course just letting the mist and mystery of Dartmoor do its soothing work.

The place where summer and autumn meet.
A purple stain on my prickled fingers.
A wide-eyed amazement at the mossy corners yet to be explored.
A tangy smile on my face.

In betweem canoeing and drumming, I’ve been pottering on at Leewood, where there was the summer glut, the amazing sunshine, the beautiful tents, some sowing for autumn and winter harvests, and loads of fun with the chickens.

Amaranth, in its summer dress of plenty.

In between those two places, where I have been so wonderfully welcomed and feel so at home, there is the other home, that of the granite, the true grit, the raw and soft landscape of the moors, where stones have heard my tears, and sun has dried them. Where dreams become true. How lucky to walk that path.

The way to Hookney Tor.
Where dreams dare to be dreamed, and magic paths join.

One thought on “from the wood to the moors and back again…

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