Dartmoor Outing

Our original plan to take advantage of the beautiful spring weather by visiting Wistman’s Wood had to be abandoned after we found the Two Bridges car parking spaces completely full. Instead we headed down towards Whiteworks, where we ate a picnic lunch and set off for a short walk along a nearby footpath to enjoy the views.

Although we’d chosen our route pretty much at random, and mainly on the basis that it looked easy for me to cope with, it turned out to be an inspired choice and led us towards Nun’s Cross, or Siward’s Cross as it’s also known. The building in the picture is Nun’s Cross Farm, and Siward’s Cross is visible on the path to the right.

After I got home and did a search online I discovered that this is the oldest and largest of all the Dartmoor crosses, so finding it by chance was wonderfully lucky. Tim Sandles’ brilliant ‘Legendary Dartmoor’ website has all the necessary information here…

It seemed like a good place to take a photo of Tom and Lil. We weren’t able to decipher the writing on the cross, although Lil’s guess of ‘Bug Land’ came close and really should have given us a clue. It’s generally agreed to read ‘BocLonD’, and may refer to Buckland Abbey, but it’s clear from the Legendary Dartmoor entry that there are many possible theories around.

The usual bleached post-winter colouring of the moor has been made more dramatic this year by the fact that we haven’t had as much rain as usual. This view to the north east of the Whiteworks road was taken as we were on our way back from Siward’s Cross.

A second attempt at the Wistman’s Wood car parking showed it hadn’t got any emptier, so we continued to Bellever Forest and headed up towards Laughter Hole Farm (a name that calls for some research…). We saw a big fox silhouetted on the track some distance ahead of us, and when it turned and moved away through patches of sunshine its coat lit up bright russet.

It’s always a surprise to me how swiftly Dartmoor changes in a very short distance, especially when travelling on foot – during the first part of the day conditions altered in moments from chilly and wind-battered to hot and sun-baked. At Bellever some parts of the forest were windy, dry and hot, but in other places the air was damp and full of the scent of pine trees. Laughter Hole Farm occupies a lovely position high above the East Dart Valley, and sitting on some piled timber listening to siskins and crossbills and soaking up the afternoon sunshine before heading back to the car made a perfect way to finish the day.