Carpe diem. Five ‘Beans’ sprout forth…

Carpe Diem

Granite skull above the entrance to St. Leonard’s Church, Sheepstor. It reads – Et Hora Sic Vitae      (As the hour – so life passes.)

Arc of our shadows - guess the Beanies

The arc of our shadows.

On the 6th of March – I received a communication from our Great Leader Old Bean – that he was planning a walk from Princetown to Meavy via Sheepstor – for Saturday the 8th March – and the weather promised to be fair; “No excuses.” was his dictate!   It is a favourite route for the Beanies – not just because of the beautiful scenery – or because alot of the route is downhill and on the level – but because there is a rather nice watering hole at the half-way point too, The Royal Oak Inn – at Meavy.  The partaking of hot, bacon baguettes, oozing with melted brie and cranberries, has become somewhat of a Beanie tradition.

En route, I always enjoy a quieter moment for reflection; at Saint Leonard’s Church in Sheepstor…



– and Saint Peter’s Church in Meavy…



It is a circular walk, starting and finishing at Princetown, that offers everything to a Dartmoor wayfarer; spiritual enlightenment, views that feed the soul – and wholesome pub grub to boot!

It was definitely time to christen my new boots – and rendezvous for 10 am at Princetown carpark – no excuses needed; wild horses couldn’t have kept me away!

Following in the footsteps of Dartmoor Ponies

Where Dartmoor Ponies tread – so do we.

It was one of those rare days when conditions were absolutely perfect – the fresh, Dartmoor air was so clear that one could almost drink it.  With the warm Spring sunshine and just a whisper of a breeze – we headed off over the Moor – with the huge fin-shape of Sheeps Tor in our collective sight.


How it gladdened the hearts of five winter-weary Beans – who had longed for this moment to emerge together – out into the light.  Old Bean was very pleased with the turnout apparently almost twenty-five percent of his group – plus a dog – and a slow-worm!

We found Brother Slow-worm on a ‘busy’ thoroughfare above Burrator Reservoir – camouflaged by twigs and leaves – and dust, it was lucky we didn’t unintentionally tread on it!

Such a beautiful, gentle creature; who’d emerged to take in the rays too – after the long, wet Winter that was…

Brother Slowworm

Brother Slow-worm; lovingly moved out of harms way.

Along the way, we passed various groups of youngsters training for the Ten Tors – and other people of all ages – exploring and enjoying Dartmoor’s wide open space too.  Being able to experience the Moor on such a fine day – really did make my heart sing like a skylark on the wing.

For me – the first Beanie get-together of 2014 – had been a complete tonic; equally refreshing – was my mug of strong, hot brew served up at the Royal Oak Inn at Meavy. I tend to ‘march’ better on a relatively empty stomach – so just tea for me – coupled with the fortifying strength of the occasional Jakemans en route!  However, the others would probably compare the first walk of the season – to sinking their teeth into a ‘Royal Oak’ bacon and brie baguette; very gratifying until next time…

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, it always seems that extra effort is required to wake up early on a day off – and get out of a nice, warm comfortable bed – and head-off to the relatively cold, unforgiving Moor – with an hour’s drive just to get to the start point!  I’m so glad I did though;  I couldn’t have spent a more enjoyable Saturday anywhere else, and in such easy-going company.

So remember fellow Beanies – ‘Carpe Diem’!  Old Bean is expecting at least a fifty-percent turnout next time; hibernation has officially ended – and Brother Anguis Fragilis agrees.

Raven Bean


A tracery of tree roots etched-out by the flow of time...


Caught on the wire; near Sheepstor, Dartmoor

Caught on the wire; near Sheepstor, Dartmoor.

The Sarawak Window - Saint Leonard's Sheepstor

The Sarawak Window – Saint Leonard’s Church, Sheepstor.

Pushing up the crocuses - Sheepstor churchyard.

Pushing up the Crocuses – Sheepstor churchyard.

He leadeth us through green pastures...

He (Old Bean) leadeth us through green pastures…

And by comparatively still waters - by Dartmoor's standard!

and by comparatively still waters – for Dartmoor!

Stopped in my tracks by a magnificent ancient waymarker.

Stopped in my tracks by a magnificent, ancient waymarker.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed our - doggie companion  the off again - lunch break at The Royal Oak Inn

Waiting for lunch to be served at the Royal Oak Inn, Meavy!

Stone wall in Meavy churchyard

A verdant stone-wall in Meavy churchyard.

Sheeps Tor - Dartmoor

On a clear day…

Sheeps Tor, Dartmoor

Sheeps Tor, Dartmoor.

Bejewelled Drake's Leat

Bejewelled in the sunlight – Drake’s Leat.

Seize the day indeed.

Detail on a headstone in Meavy churchyard.

Carpe diem.

Setting the Scene.

Brentor and beyond.

Brentor and beyond.

When driving West towards Tavistock, along the A386 – on the open stretch above Mary Tavy, there is a portal to another world.  An expansive gateway to a place that is wild and unforgiving in nature, yet dreamy and otherworldly.  A wayfarer’s Eden called, DARTMOOR.

Gold in them hills.  Great Links and Great Nodden.

Gold in them hills.

From this vantage point – I can sometimes see all the way to Bodmin Moor – my birthplace coincidentally – and in the foreground, Brentor hill with the little church of Saint Michael de  Rupe atop.  Behind – and to my left, Dartmoor is laid out in all its greatness – my favourite tors stand like huge granite sentinels, silhouetted against an ever-shifting sky; Great Links, Great Staple and Fur –

Great Links Tor Dartmoor

Great Links Tor –

Great Staple Tor...

Great Staple Tor –

Gateway to the 'Far Tor' - Fur Tor on the horizon

A gateway to the ‘Far Tor’ (Fur Tor).

Sentinals - and shifting sky.

Sentinels – and shifting sky.

Although I don’t always know precisely where I’m going from here – I know I’ve crossed a line.  Most of my start points for walks are roughly an hour away by car from where I live – and the North Moor closer – so Dartmoor is naturally the place I head out to when I want a walk on the wild side.

Dartmoor from Cuppers Piece


On my day off, conveniently a Tuesday, I’ll most likely set a bearing directly to Tavistock – the magnetism of the market is too powerful to resist; Tuesday is antiques and collectables day!  After a couple fruitful hours spent in the town, I go up to the moor to eat a bought pasty – and then I set about walking it off!   If the weather is set fair to middling – I revisit familiar ground – perhaps the Staple Tors and across to Roos – or if time is short, a quick stroll along the burbling leat to Windy Post.

The Windy Post.

The Windy Post.

However, if it’s tipping it down – I’m happy to sit it out from the comfort of my car.  Simply drinking in the rain-sodden Dartmoor landscape, coupled with a pasty, can be very sustaining until my next visit – which might be heading out for a proper walk over open moorland.  On these more testing occasions, I wisely don’t go it alone.

I have ventured forth with – The Bean Walking Club, Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team Plymouth, Dartmoor Preservation Association – and neither last nor least, my son -Tom.

Fogbound Beanies.

Fogbound Beanies.

D.S.R.T - Plymouth

D.S.R.T – Plymouth.





An old friend.

An old friend.

Dartmoor automatically demands that my heart beats faster when faced with walking up one of its steep, clitter strewn slopes to the top of a chosen tor – but it is Dartmoor’s visual impact, its elemental beauty, that makes my soul soar effortlessly to boundless heights. It’s easy to lose oneself here – and find eternity in an hour; in real time probably six or seven or eight!

Great Mistor Dartmoor

Elemental. Great Mistor

However, Dartmoor is not just a portal for metaphysical escapism – there is the very real presence of its infamous bogs and mires to keep one earthed.  When crossing wet, spongy ground it is easy to give way to dark thoughts. I envisage glossy brown, sinewy bodies that sleep contortedly beneath my feet – lost souls from an ancient tribe – and the idea of joining them in an eternal sleepover is terrifying but life-affirming; onwards, upwards but not necessarily straight forwards!  Vigilance and a good dose of healthy respect, are prerequisites for a day out on Dartmoor’s open moorland – plus a good prodding stick!

Bog Dartmoor

Testing ground…

Dartmoor bog

Up to the hilt – rather than knees!

My other essential kit item is my Samsung L83T digital camera.  I concede that it is getting on a bit compared to more fancy, up-to-the-minute models – however over a period of years, it has proven robust enough to withstand the rigours of Dartmoor and its penetrative, damp  conditions – and simply it does the job. Consequently,  I have built up an archive of images; snapshots of Dartmoor caught in the click of a button.  No planning, no waiting and no enhancements – just the ephemerality of a thousand or more, magic moments – as they flashed upon my inward eye.

Every blade of grass has its own drop of dew

Finding beauty in a bog.

Whether you love to head out over the open moorland, like I sometimes do –

At Roos Tor - view to Fur Tor and Cut Hill

Heading out.

or you prefer to sit in the comfort of your warm car on the edge, like I sometimes do –

Vixen Tor Dartmoor

Vixon Tor from a lay-by on the B3357.

– I think you’ll agree; there’s definitely something about Dartmoor.

Sheeps Tor Dartmoor.

Sheeps Tor – you can’t miss it. (if you click on the image – you can see ships in Plymouth Bay.