The Beauty of Dartmoor

Dartmoor, South West England

The majestic purple of heathers, speckled with faded yellow flowers of gorse, surrounded by a sea of tawny long grass set upon the verdant shorter grass. The breeze, fragranced with the sea, only perhaps twenty miles away, fills my breath with its balm. The whitish plumes of clouds bluff the wide sky.

The moor venerates me, inspires me: my spirit feels freedom in the vast openness. Worries evaporate as I walk with the scenery. It coaxes me more and more into the truth and clarity of the present moment. That sense of being thankful to be alive starts to well: to have the fortune and simple treasure of being be able to experience this wonderful enclave of nature.

Climbing up the side of the north moor, I follow a gurgling stream with small waterfalls, the occasional Alder drinking or a Rowan redolent with red berries. Over time the stream has worn a deep gulley, the sides so steep it awes me to ponder how long it has taken to do this. 

On reaching the top, my skin glistens healthily from the exertion. I relax in contentment and sit with the stream as it cascades raucously over the top. I have the sense I am sitting with a dear old friend: tell me your story I want to ask it.

After drinking some tea from my flask, I take out paper, pen and endeavour to write. This act makes me feel even closer to the moor. To study the detail with greater intensity and to pull back: the bigger picture; to sense the whole spirit of the land. I try to tease the evocative feelings into conscious thoughts and into words. I want my thoughts and words to flow freely like the stream, after all, is that not what consciousness is? A flowing stream or river?

I stand up and scan the top of gulley for a path back. I pick my route and notice some wild ponies who graze the top of the ridge. It is the clan I always see on this part of the moor—they stand out: Palominos. Light tan bodies with golden tails. I start to walk the head of the gulley. I leap as a frog on tufts of reeds to avoid the patches of sphagnum moss, sodden and luminous green. The sun is now low in the sky and casts rays from behind ominous cobalt clouds on the far horizon. There is a distinct biblical feel to the whole panorama.

As I make my way along the path, I pass the ponies. I bid them hello as I feel it is only polite to do so, after all this is their home and I am their guest. All of them ignore me, except for one who looks up briefly: some kind of acknowledgement. I smile inwardly and continue on my way.

In a way, Dartmoor has an Eden feel: a purity. It has been relatively untouched by humans. A place where the aeons of time can be felt. A simplicity of being: we are a part of nature and belong to it, not the other way around. It is wild, sublime: a landscape that invokes other worldly feelings. It is a place that connects me to some of the deepest parts of myself. Somewhere I can attain peace more readily. It has weaved its magical charm on me. The bleakness and sparseness and even its sometimes unforgiving nature have become part of that charm.

If it is peace and solitude you seek, then to spend time on Dartmoor is  well worth the visit.

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The Beauty of Dartmoor