Editor's Blog

Dartmoor Access Forum Joint Training Day

I had an interesting day out last week with the Dartmoor Access Forum (of which I am a member) on a joint training day with Devon Countryside Access Forum. DAF meets a couple of times a year to discuss access issues on and around the moor, and we have a training day in the summer. We met in Yelverton for coffee then made our way to Clearbrook to view the ‘new’ access ramp for Drake’s Trail. Issues arising from different user expectations and demands on multi-use trails were discussed on the ground: so much better than doing so when sitting around a table!

Multi-use sign on Drake's Trail, Lower Goodameavy

Multi-use sign on Drake’s Trail, Lower Goodameavy

We kept having to make way for passing cyclists, a clear demonstration of the popularity of the trail (an estimated 500 people per day at weekends on this stretch). Fittingly Dartmoor National Park launched their new Cycling Code of Conduct last week: the overall message being that all road and trail users need to show consideration for other users at all times, and act responsibly and legally.



Next it was off to Buckland Monachorum to see the results of their Paths for Parish Landscapes work: the restoration of a useful link path near the church, which was been upgraded and made suitable for all users. The photo shows the way a granite Devon stile has been effectively bypassed and an unobtrusive new surface laid. A great example of a successful community project for the benefit of all.


Our day ended on Roborough Down where we listened to Tracey Weaver, a West Devon/South Hams Dog Warden, talk about her work and the well-reported issues with dogs in our area.

A fascinating and highly educational day all round. If you are interested in joining DAF new members will be sought this September: email localaccessforum@dartmoor.gov.uk, or visit www.dartmoor.gov.uk to find out more. DAF works independently of the National Park but Authority staff attend our meetings and facilitate our training days.


Wall to wall

I took a break from Dartmoor last weekend (before the summer issue deliveries) and went walking in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Around 300 sq miles greater in area than Dartmoor, this is a land of dramatic limestone scenery: crags, scars, gorges and weather-worn pavements, intersected by broad, fertile green valleys. One iconic feature of the area is its thousands of drystone walled enclosures, many with a small stone barn in one corner. These stone walls snake in every direction across the fells: it is said that in the late 1990s there were over 5000 miles of walls in existence.


Whernside 736m Yorkshire Dales

Whernside 736m Yorkshire Dales


Near Ingleborough, Yorkshire Dales

Near Ingleborough, Yorkshire Dales


We can learn much about the local geology of an area by studying buildings, barns, walls and so on. Here on Dartmoor we have our solid granite drystone walls (the one seen in the photo above edges Open Access land near Prince Hall Hotel, Two Bridges) and beautiful Devon hedge banks, whereas on Exmoor walls tend to be built of local slate (below). And when researching the route of the Pennine Bridleway for a book several years I could tell when I was leaving the limestone White Peak and moving onto the gritstone Dark Peak simply by studying the make-up of the lane-side wall I was passing!

Slate wall at Cow Castle, Barle Valley, Exmoor

Slate wall at Cow Castle, Barle Valley, Exmoor

Summer issue to print!

After two long days at the computer(s) in my barn outside Moretonhampstead, Emily and I are pleased to say that the summer issue is (almost) ready to go to print! It’s a time-consuming process: correcting text glitches, moving around photos and captions, checking photo acknowledgements, finalising ads and cover lines and so on. Over the weekend Emily will go through every page again before I have a final look and then it will be uploaded to the printers’ portal. Subscribers’ copies will be sent out around 26 May, and the bulk delivery will reach us that week for delivery to our 60 or so sales outlets around the moor.

In this issue we’ve got a broad range of articles, as usual: I’ve been out to Shilstone Rocks Stud near Widecombe to learn all about the registered Dartmoor Pony; Richard Horsham examines Dartmoor’s blanket bog in enormous detail; we have walks along the Two Moors Way, to Cranmere Pool (and with llamas!); Tavistock Golf Club celebrates its 125th birthday; Tim Jenkinson takes an in-depth look at the rocks of Hound Tor Coombe; and much, much more. There are interviews with ‘Tich’ Scott and Bill Murray, and with sculptor Peter Randall-Page from Drewsteignton, and Nick Baker looks at the underwater life of a Dartmoor stream. This issue’s beautiful cover and Contents page photos (see Contents spread below) have been supplied by Richard Fox of Bovey Tracey. And in this issue we have an amazing eight pages of News, including the story of the new part-time Post Office that has taken up residence in Throwleigh parish church.

Tomorrow I’m off to Princetown for the Dartmoor Local History Day: an annual gathering of representatives from local history groups, with talks from an excellent range of speakers. After that it’s down to Parke for the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust’s 10th birthday party… and then next week I shall be commissioning articles and planning the autumn issue!

Contents spread from DM119 summer 2015

Contents spread from DM119 summer 2015


Welcome to the new website!

After many months of hard work we are delighted to launch the new Dartmoor Magazine website. One of the new features will be the Editor’s blog, through which I plan to keep interested parties up to speed with what’s been happening on Dartmoor and with the magazine. We would be very interested to hear what you think of the website: if you have any constructive comments please send them to enquiries@dartmoormagazine.co.uk.

My first ‘proper’ blog post will follow soon!

Spring cleaning

One thing that happens to my year as a result of editing a quarterly magazine is that time appears to speed up! Yesterday I went to Home Farm Café at Parke for a lunchtime meeting with Catherine Parsons, Visitor Services and Enterprise Manager for the National Trust on Dartmoor. We looked through Catherine’s suggestions for subjects for the NT pages in each issue and before long we were deciding what should go into the next winter issue… another year gone, just like that! While I was at Parke I also met the NT’s Lead Ranger AJ (Bellamy) properly at last, and caught up with the National Park’s Visitor Services Manager Richard Drysdale too.

There’s a lot of that every January for me: meetings, making plans, looking ahead to issues later in the year (as well as thinking up ideas for series to run through 2016, which need to be decided a year in advance so that the photographs can be taken in the right season). Today I’ve had my Mac chap here sorting out a few problems with my 7500 iPhoto images (hence ‘spring cleaning’), and tomorrow I’ll be getting on with editing some of the spring issue features that are starting to trickle in.

It’s all a bit of a juggling act… but never boring!