Sunday, 10 March 2013

A day on Dartmoor

Yesterday, Simon picked up the newest addition to his motorcycle collection from Okehampton, and while he drove the bike straight home, I went wandering on Dartmoor. It definitely was a wander, as I only managed 5 miles in 5 hours! I parked up at Meldon Reservoir car park & crossed the dam into a little bird hotspot with 2 Grey Wagtails, Pied Wagtail, Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker, Raven, Crow, Robin, Chaffinch, 2 Marsh Tits and a male Goosander on the reservoir. I climbed up Langstone Hill towards Black Tor to the sound of singing Skylarks and, unfortunately, the hunt which was across the valley on the lower slopes of Yes Tor. We converged at Black Tor, but luckily they left it before I arrived.
Meldon Reservoir
Beautiful views & blue skies (some of the time!)
The weather was mainly lovely, with the occasional light shower. As I approached Black Tor the sky darkened & assuming it would be another short shower I stupidly didn't bother with my waterproof trousers. Consequently by the time I arrived at the Tor for lunch my trousers were soaked.

Approaching Black Tor
Whilst lunching, a fox ran passed the Tor in front of me, right across the route taken by the hunt about half an hour earlier. I'm sure I saw it making a rude gesture in their general direction....

Lunch spot, sheltering from the wind behind the Tor
The West Okement River flows through a deep valley west of the Tor down to the reservoir. There's no path down to it from the Tor, although a track follows the river a bit further down the valley. I'd seen a couple of walkers heading that way as I arrived, so rather than retracing my route I decided to yomp down to the track. Half way down I really regretted my decision when I had a moment of panic whilst standing on a rock surrounded by bog. It was the sound of running water underneath the vegetation & the occasional gaping hole in amongst the tussocks that worried me. I even moved my phone & camera into a higher pocket....just in case!
Bog ahead...
Bog behind....looking back up to Black Tor

I eventually managed to bog-hop to the track & it was well worth the effort. Not a bird in sight, but the valley was gorgeous.

West Okement River
Ancient trees line the valley

An impressive ecosystem on a tree
West Okement River
Back to Meldon Reservoir & a closer view of the male Goosander.

Far end of the reservoir, current home to 14 noisy Canada Geese

It had been a lovely walk & by the time I got back to the car park I'd seen 22 species.

(Marsh Tit, Chaffinch, Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Crow, Blackbird, Robin, Jackdaw, Mistle Thrush, Goosander, Canada Goose, Raven, Magpie, Skylark, Dunnock, Pheasant, Wren, Buzzard, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Starling)

And a BMW R1150RT (Ed)

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