Editor's Blog

Dartmoor Magazine – autumnal commission confusion! (and a bit of important news)

The winter issue of Dartmoor Magazine went to print at the start of this week, which gives me abut 10 days to catch up on all manner of outstanding tasks before stock arrives at Animal Crackers just up the road from home (AC very kindly take delivery of the pallet of magazines for me – the delivery lorry can’t access my cottage). When the winter magazines arrive it’ll be time for me and my valiant delivery pals to get out on the road to deliver the new issue, check sales of the autumn issue and invoice for copies sold, to 75+ sales outlets all over the Moor. This time there’s a little bit of extra work to be done, too, in that we’ve had to increase the cover price of the magazine from £3.90 to £4.20 and so all the counter stand labels will need replacing. I promise you that this is nothing to do with swelling the DM coffers – far from it! – and everything to do with the increased cost of postage and paper, and thus printing. It’s explained in the Editor’s Letter in the winter issue too (subscriptions are having to go up too).

When I tell people that the magazine has gone to print, the usual comments I receive are along the lines of ‘Great! So now you get a bit of a break.’ Far from it! The minute it’s signed off for print I get cracking on firming up the next issue, and email everyone destined to contribute to that magazine. Sometimes one or two inevitably drop by the wayside, and so I have to find something to fill the space . I’m also always painfully aware that there are people who have submitted ideas and articles in the hope that they may fit in a future issue, and so sometime soon I need to go through all those and see what I can fit in over the next year. And then there are meetings coming up, with those with whom I really need to sit down and thrash out a proposal.

On top of that I need to think about my own contributions to the magazine – the Walk & Eat feature – a year in advance, so that I can take photos at the relevant season. I try to combine my Dartmoor trips as much as possible, so it was good to have an excuse to go to Ivybridge recently to top up stock of the autumn issue at the Ivybridge Bookshop, Owens Roastery and the Countrymans Choice Farm Shop (magazine sales in Ivybridge have been remarkably good of late). It was a lovely autumnal day so I decided that my autumn 2022 walk would head upstream along the Erme – in full flow, as can be seen from the image above – through beautiful Longtimber Wood and Pithill woods, then come back to town via Wilkey’s Moor.

The route alongside the Erme is shared with that of the Dartmoor Way, and from the return there are glorious views across the valley to Weatherdon Hill, around which loops the route of the Two Moors Way. I’m involved with both long-distance walking routes, so I’m always on the lookout for new photo opportunities… so on this walk for a future issue of Dartmoor Magazine I ended up taking images that could be useful in some way for two other projects. This is where the ‘commission confusion’ kicks in  – sometimes it’s hard to keep a clear head regarding what I’m doing, and for what (not to mention how and where to label and store all the various images on my computer!).

The Dartmoor Way also came into my mind on a recent very lovely walk with friends, starting from Okehampton Station. We headed along the former tramway (which I now know about having walked there with Paul Rendell for my ‘Walk & Talk’ article in the summer 2021 issue – more doubling up!). We followed the route of the DW up the East Okement, which we crossed below Halstock Wood. Next stop Belstone, where we left the DW – the Cleave looked stunning in the autumn sunshine. We threaded our way upstream beside the beautiful River Taw, headed up onto the ridge via the Irishman’s Wall and Belstone Tor, then dropped down to Cullever Steps via Higher Tor.

On our way back to the start we diverted briefly to visit Fitz’s Well and Cross – a first for me, I have to confess! Although the ground hereabouts is boggy, the actual well/spring is sadly covered over – I learned from the Dartmoor 365 book that any girl drinking from the spring early on the morning of Easter Day will be married within a year. Not any more, it would seem…

Finally – as hinted at above – I’ve got a new book commission: a guidebook to the Dartmoor Way. I walked the whole 108-mile route, as well as the 27-mile High Moor Link, when I was commissioned to provide the route directions for the website. This new commission is for Cicerone Press, and will involve me rewalking the entire route in both directions and providing a 35,000-plus-word route description plus 100 or so images. I was anxious to get some autumnal images so pretty much as soon as the magazine had gone to print I set out to work on the 9.75-mile section between Okehampton and Lydford (the header image is taken from Meldon Viaduct). It is such a beautiful part of the route – the images below show the West Okement at Okehampton Castle, and a leafy byway en route for Lydford.

So once the magazine has gone to print there’s not a lot of  ‘rest for the wicked’ after all!