When people ask me about my love of Dartmoor National Park, one quote I like to give is from the book Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. Although first published in 1936 and actually about Bodmin Moon over the county border in Cornwall, I feel the following quote provides an apt description of ‘the moors.’
‘I love these moors … If you knew them as well as I do, and had seen them in every mood, winter and summer, you would love them too. They have a fascination unlike any other part of the country. They go back a long way in time. Sometimes I think they are the survival of another age. The moors were the first thing to be created; afterwards came the forests, and the valleys, and the sea. Climb Roughtor one morning before sunrise, and listen to the wind in the stones. You’ll know what I mean then.’
The interior moorland places of Dartmoor National Park (or Bodmin) are wild places to step into. They can be demanding with few footpaths and little signposting – proper don’t-get-stuck-out-here-in-bad-weather without a map and compass kind of moorland … time for another quote written by du Maurier in Jamaica Inn …
‘On either side of the road, the country stretched interminably into space. No trees, no lanes, no cluster of cottages or hamlet, but mile upon mile of bleak moorland, dark and untraversed, rolling like a desert land to some unseen horizon.’
Yes, the moors can feel lonely and craggy and wild, but take a walk and you’ll be accompanied by skylarks, ravens and buzzards and with colours that are ever-changing under a big kaleidoscopic sky you’ll feel alive. Just bring a map and compass.