Dartmoor walks this way | News

Of Moors and Mires...

2013-02-07 12:05:20

I recently explored a new area (for me) in the far northeast of the moor.  I’d been told about a good pool for swimming and wanted to find a circular walk that could end there.  I found the pool, I found a rather dramatic triple stone row on the slopes of Cosdon Hill, I saw some amazing views out over towards Exmoor and southwards over Dartmoor, but I failed to complete a circular route.  Of course, this was not because I couldn’t find my way, but because I was defeated by the mires and the incoming mist.

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Mires are the seriously boggy bits of Dartmoor that ponies and people and Sherlock Holmes villains drown in.  They are the marshy areas where all the moor’s rivers start, gentle hollows that can look harmless or deceptively lawn-like, and harbor some of Dartmoor’s greatest areas of biodiversity: sphagnum mosses, insectivorous plants like the sundew, bog asphodel, and birds such as golden plover, dunlin and snipe.  The most famous is Fox Tor Mire (on which Conan Doyle’s Grimpen Mire is modeled), but there are many others of all different shapes and sizes.

My plan is to return and try again in a month or so.  A very experienced Moorman told me one has to just walk higher up the hill at that point, then loop round to get to Little Hound Tor stone circle, from where it is possible to pick up another old trackback off the moor on the other side of the mire.  I hope I’ll find a route that doesn’t require too much hopping from tussock to tussock, so I can offer it as a guided walk.  It’s a magnificent bit of moor and the final stop by the Blackaton Brook (pictured) is a great rest/picnic/swimming spot.

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