Sunday, 18 June 2017


Oh, man, Dartmoor, how I love thee. From the very first time I drove through it's rugged ancient landscape it stole a piece of my heart, I was smitten. The subsequent years of walking its wooded valleys and austere granite topped hills, camping in its secret places and dipping into its chilled waters, have imbued its landscape with deep layers of memory, of times and people. It is a special place to me, a magical place. I feel differently here, I feel excited like a child. Today's walk was up the wonderful Walkham Valley; a beautiful wooded valley through which the crystal clear Walkham flows around boulders and islands, forming rapids and pools amongst dappled light. It's a place we've walked for 30 years or more, and even though it's been some time since we last walked here, and there have been changes, walking here feels like coming home. Taking in all the sights, sounds and smells which abound around us we make our way up the river as it slowly narrows, and just before it emerges from its wooded valley, out into the open moor and the high origins of its source, we turn abruptly upwards through the humid wooded valley side. It's steep and the climb is hard.  Though when we reach the woodland edge and brake cover we're greeted with stunning views across the wild expanse of the moor; up towards our destination, Kings Tor, and looking back down over the wooded valley we've just left. Stunning. We continue, threading a path between natural boulders, then through the expansive detritus of the stone working industry of the previous 2 centuries, and finally, up atop the granite stack of Kings Tor. From up here we have views out across the moor and way beyond, off into Cornwall and out to the coast. What a spot. We can't stay here too long though, out here with no shade, and under today's blazing sun, it's too much. So, down we go, back tracking through the piles of waste stone chippings and half formed blocks. It's not too long before we find ourselves back in the welcomed shade of the canopy. The humidity is high, and as we descend through the trees the sound of the river grows; it's calling us to take a dip. Well, on a day like today it would be rude not to. The water bubbles up from deep below and even on a baking day like this is freezing cold, immersing yourself is a spiritual experience as much as an invigorating and refreshing one. Wow. It's amazing how refreshing it is, for the remainder of our walk back to car I feel air conditioned, in fact, I could feel the effects of our 5 minute dip for the rest of the day. Too soon we were back at the car, where we'd left a wounded member of the mission who'd missed out on the walk. I say 'wounded', massively hungover in truth, though he had recovered on our return, which was good. What a walk, man, not too long, sub 10, and virtually every step arduous, though the reward was massive.  As I said in yesterdays Here and Now gig post, life can kick the shit out of you, and to pinch a Here and Now lyric 'it's the little things', the simple things which give you strength. Today's walk and last nights gigs will charge my batteries and keep me running for some time. Oh, happy days.

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