It was while passing by the ruins of Foggintor Quarry – on Dartmoor – that I received my name Raven – as in Raven Bean. The Beanies are a walking group that I used to walk out with once in a while – everyone had a prefix name to ‘Bean’ – and mine was ‘Raven’. It was when a lone Raven flew out of Foggintor Quarry over our heads – that I excitedly exclaimed to our great leader Old Bean – “Raven” – and the name stuck. In that sense – Foggintor is where I was officially baptised into the Wonder of Dartmoor. Nowadays – I’ve inevitably become a bit of a lone Raven myself and prefer to walk alone – or with just my son, Tom – for company.
I like to stand and stare too much – to move on at my own pace and think my thoughts without too much chatter. Even young Tom finds my tendency for grinding to a halt trying at times – nevermore so than when I come across some beloved ponies. It’s never enough for me to just say a simple “Hello” – I like to hold meaningful conversations with them; meaningful to me that is! Tom gets impatient by my dawdling – and if he sees a dreaded group of them on our horizon first – he will deliberately try to guide me off course before I spot them. It never works though – because my eyes are as keen as my namesake.
Foggintor Quarry is one of those interesting, atmospheric places on Dartmoor – that is suitable for an easy, short afternoon stroll – even when the infamous fog has descended because there is a track that will always lead you back to the road.
Sunday 19th. March 2017 – was one such occasion! We parked at the romantically named ‘Four Winds’ car park on the B3357 and set off in the direction of the quarry over moorland. In no time at all – an inquisitive, young pony came running to me unbidden. Such a beautiful bright-eyed creature – and so trusting.
I find it unimaginable to think that these gentle, inquisitive animals too often go for meat – or are just shot before they even reach their first birthday. If I could have bundled my new friend into my rucksack I would have done – but wishful thinking is no solution to saving Dartmoor’s ‘unwanted’ Hill Ponies. I enjoyed the ‘moment’ – and was delighted to see an aspect of myself reflected back – we both wore our hair untidily – in a side plait.
On our delayed arrival at Foggintor Quarry – we were treated to an aerobatic display – not by Ravens – but by a group of brave young hearts from Holland – who were queuing up to launch themselves off the edge.
From our aerial view above the quarry – we watched them one by one – bravely throw themselves off – as they whizzed down the zip-wire – ‘skimming’ the windblown surface of the dark, shifting water below.
We had arrived at the fortuitous time – any earlier and we would have had to stand around in the cold and damp for the afternoon’s spectacular to begin. As it turned out – our meeting with the Dartmoor Pony had been most timely – despite Tom’s intermittent grumbles!
We continued our walk all around the top of the arena – and hoped that the fog would not descend too low should we end up going over the edge ourselves – only without the aid of ropes and carabiners! We arrived back at the Four Winds – suitably soaked by mist – Foggintor had lived up to its name.