I said in my last post that I would blog about a couple of my favourite days out that we had on our at-home holiday this summer, so here's another one. Last week we got up early and went out to Dartmoor for the day. It's a couple of hours' drive from here, and somewhere that we haven't got to know very well. It was just my husband, son and me - my two girls were busy that day. We arrived just before lunch at Haytor, one of Dartmoor's most famous beauty spots.
Here's the view from the visitor centre. It looked like a good place for a pre-lunch walk.
Off we went up a gentle incline, surrounded by bracken and brambles.
Already the leaves are turning to some gorgeously autumnal shades.
Gradually the huge granite rock formation, or tor, started to hove into view.
On the way the hillside was covered in bright yellow gorse and the more muted shades of pinky purple heather.
I just love moorland at this time of year.
Here we're almost at the rocks themselves. It's a popular place, and despite a few showers, there were a good few visitors at the top.
The granite rocks have been eroded and smoothed over time by wind and the elements into curious shapes.
I sat on a low one and watched as the weather blew over, taking in the dramatic view.
I like the grey stone against the background of grey sky
Close up, the stone is covered in various lichens, and when the sun came out the tiny pieces of silica sparkled.
There certainly are lots of boulders and rocks which make convenient seats for the weary walker.
There's something very special for me about high places like this. Perhaps it's because we live in the south west of England and I grew up having August holidays in Wales, Scotland and the North. Perhaps it's because it has inspired many writers and artists, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and the song-writer Seth Lakeman. It certainly is a place full of legend, superstition and folklore, with its standing stones, bogs, rivers, woods and tors. It does also have a climate all of its own, and can be very wet and inhospitable. I can imagine that you probably wouldn't want to be out alone on Dartmoor in the dark.
However, it is very exhilarating and inspiring, standing on a high windswept place and looking at the sweeping vista.I watched as the sunlight spread across the moors. Look, there's the visitor centre far away on the right.
I loved the wonderfully dramatic views across the brooding moorland, dotted here and there with some very hardy sheep.
The combination of heather, gorse, bracken and brambles so characterises the flora of this place that at first view seems so barren.
At last we decided that it was lunchtime, so headed to Widecombe-in-the-Moor for refuelling. It's a lovely village on the edge of the moors with a very attractive church, known as the 'cathedral of the moors'.
We found a lovely cafe, as the rain set in and ate pasties followed by a cream tea. Such a treat, and so naughty!
I loved the view up to the hills from the window as we ate.
Finally the rain stopped, and we went for a wander around the pretty village, the plain little cottages, so full of character and homely.
I couldn't resist a bit of souvenir-buying, and treated myself to the new book by Sue Lewington, 'Dartmoor and its Villages'. I've already bought several of her books on holiday in Cornwall, so was delighted to find this one. I love her informal watercolour style and interesting little notes. I also bought a pretty card and some Twool which is a twine made out of wool. I don't know what I'm going to make with it, but couldn't resist.
After our shopping we went for a bit of a drive, and I enjoyed the fabulous dry stone walls on all the hillsides. Their interlocking patterns fascinate me.
Sometimes tiny ferns grow in the cracks between the stones.
Some more inhabitants of the moors are these gorgeous ponies. In many places they roam free and, like the new Forest, visitors must take care when driving near them.
One decided to lick the bonnet of our car as we were about to leave. We were not allowed to feed them, but they do like to be stroked.
And so we said goodbye to beautiful Dartmoor- we hope not to leave it too long before we're back.