Blog - Doug Stratton

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Dartmoor autumn hike
Dartmoor autumn hike

It seems I can't get enough of the autumn colours this year. Just before Lockdown II, a trip to Dartmoor was on the cards. How could I say no? The forecast was for heavy rain all weekend but it had to be worth a try.

 

 

Day One, and heavy skies with high winds, but mercifully almost no rain. The hilltop views were staggering. The valley you see here is for the River Dart, into which we now descended.

 

 

At this stage it all seemed pretty easy. Bracken and gorse aside, the going was good.

 

 

After days of rain, though, the River Dart had other ideas. The hiking trail was supposed to pass along the river's bank. The water looked angry about the very idea, but I wasn't about to climb that hill again so we pressed on.

 

 

Eventually the trail disappeared completely. Into the river. Not good.

 

 

After much scrambling, and the merciful help of offline Ordnance Survey maps, we found the road to Dartmeet.

 

 

Not far from Dartmeet is the mystical Wistman's Wood, a small but magical area of gnarled and twisted dwarf oak trees, with moss-covered boulders strewn across the hillside.

 

 

The light was fading, and I didn't want to sacrifice sharpness in the photos with a higher ISO, so steady hands were called for with ever-longer shutter speeds.

 

 

As you can imagine, all sorts of legends surround this place, involving everything from pixies to werewolves. All I saw were fellow hikers, and Instagrammers going for that epic Halloween selfie.

 

 

Getting ever darker, and time for one last shot.

 

 

Day Two, and a far more leisurely hike in the Teign Valley.

 

 

Still not the best weather, but considering the place and time of year, I was happy that it wasn't raining. Anything else is a bonus. The landscape's colours certainly didn't disappoint.

 

 

Descending to the River Teign itself, the colours became even more vivid.

 

 

This is a popular place for locals to take their walks, and you can see why. Just out of shot is around fifteen people all trying to get a nice shot of these steps with the carpet of leaves. Sorry to shatter the illusion.


 

I don't think I've ever seen so much moss outside Kyoto's temple gardens. The colours here just explode.

 

 

It's dark down here under all this foliage so I sacrificed some ISO in the pursuit of these shots. Well worth it.

 



The end of another wonderful hike, at Fingle Bridge Inn. Time to go home and hide from the virus again. Thank you, Dartmoor, for that fleeting glimpse of beauty before the return to life's brutality.

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