Thursday, 16 June 2016

Walk from Belstone

It's always good to be out on Dartmoor and it seems ages since we ventured onto the open moor. An area we had not walked in previously and one that we will definitely visit again.

Our route, starting and ending in the pretty village of Belstone, and walking up one side of the River Taw and down the other. About 6.5 miles of reasonably strenuous going.
The village stocks in Belstone. Their age is not known for sure but it is suggested that they were last used around the mid 1800’s and then for such simple crimes as infringing common rights or offences against the church. They are, in fact, a grade II listed monument. But they are not all they may seem. The wood is quite recent and, during some stabilisation work, evidence was uncovered that suggests that one of the granite posts might have been used as a pillory at some time.
A Series 2 Field-Marshall tractor, dating from the 1950s, with its characteristic green paint and ostentatious exhaust cleaner system. I knew what this was as soon as I saw it as I used to work on a farm that had one. I'm pretty certain that even in this condition it would fetch a good price as a restoration project.
The River Taw tumbling over granite rocks.
It's a good year for foxgloves. Lots and lots of them around, adding splashes of colour in the hedgerows and along our paths.
Belted Galloway cattle are becoming increasingly common on the moor due to their hardiness and ability to scratch sustenance from some pretty barren places. They put on weight slowly and the meat, or so I'm told, is very tasty. The view is almost due south looking across the Taw Marsh.
And this view is in the opposite direction, looking north towards Belstone Common.
As with many places on Dartmoor, the landscape we walked through has been shaped by man over many years through mining activities. Although not obvious, this view is taken looking down a fairly substantial leat taken off a nearby tributary of the River Taw. The large triangular stone marks the boundary of the Wheal Virgin mine.
Green Hairstreak butterfly. Not uncommon but unusual. It's the only green butterfly in the UK and is usually seen with its wings closed. The upper wing surfaces are a rather dull brown. There were a few of them around but they weren't easy to spot.
Small Heath butterfly. Not a rare species but very difficult to get a good photograph of. They are flighty little devils.
A female Wheatear. A corruption of White Rear, the accuracy of which becomes obvious when they fly away from you and you can see their white rumps.
Look closely and you can spot lots of spent gun cartridges. Hardly surprising as we were just inside the fringes of the Okehampton army training area. The worrying thing was that some of them appeared to be intact and undischarged.
A Ferguson TE20 tractor, again dating from the 1950s. A walking companion told me that this model was affectionately known as 'the little grey Fergie' and was the workhorse of many small farms for many years. Again, something valuable rusting away.
There's nothing like a refreshing drink after a long walk. And we didn't just walk away leaving someone else to clear up after us, we were just doing what the barmaid  told us to do.

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