16 October, 2010

Wanderin' off...

No posts since Monday? Tut tut...

Ok, highlight of working week was Derek the Danish BHG finally coming close enough again for me to read his ring and confirm that yes it is him still hanging around with the 25-odd lazy buggers who've stayed in Totnes [as opposed to the other 225 or so who've moved on!]. No seal sightings, no more harriers [ok, there was only ever one harrier, but it was very exciting.]... er, there were 3 Buzzards up on Friday! [Woo]

Today I went for a wander up on't Moor - one of my favourite walks, in fact. Postbridge to Fur Tor.

Due to time constraints I'm not going to go into rhapsodical detail right now, suffice to say there were Wheatears and Ravens, and it was nice. I will post at length later [maybe tomorrow, maybe have to wait for Monday...]. There will be wibble, and possibly something controversial and naughty, so you probably ought not to read it.

Edit: Monday - time for adding stuff as promised.
Fur Tor is special. I've been in two minds about mentioning it much at all, for the entirely and unashamedly selfish reason of not wanting to have to share it any more than I am already forced to. But seeing as I do have to share it [with climbers mostly, these days] I might as well share the joy.
Fur Tor is a Tor you have to earn - you must cross rivers and hills, bogs and rocks to reach her, [even if you take the cheaty way]. She is also a she; not for nothing is she known as the Queen of the Moor, standing out on her own peninsula in the Moor's northern heart. When you get there, you are at the Most Isolated Spot in Southern Britain [It's official] - there is no traffic, no distant chatter of the masses, just the wind and the birds [and more often it's just the wind]. There is a quality of silence there that can reach right down into you. Find a good spot and you are set apart from the world - its there in the distance but you are untouched by it. With decent visibility you can see the sea both ways and all the high tors of the west Moor, when it's closed in the mist flows over you like a great river..

I walk there from Postbridge, following the West Dart up into the high moor, hanging a left to seek the Northwest Passage and then aiming for the grey ramparts as they rise over the shoulder of Cut Hill. If that sounds a bit vague and overblown then good, it's what I was aiming for ;) It's about 10 klicks each way, with multiple water crossings, proper peat bogs and a very pretty waterfall. There's paths all the way there [though also a hell of a lot that cross or go off the wrong way too - this is Dartmoor!] and it's not horrifically hard going, but I recommend a stick for the wet bits [as well as the usual decent footwear, waterproofs, map, compass, survival gear etc...]. You have to check the firing, as it's in Okie, though you can get there if they're firing on Merrivale [however you will either get soggy or risk trouble, as the path across the peat bogs of Cut Hill meanders along the boundary between the ranges - it has to be said that the Army are very nice and as long as you're following the edge they'll not usually arrest you.. ;) ] [[There's also a longer way across the top of Cut Hill that avoids Merrivale altogether, but it's a bit of a bugger.]]

The sun shone, the wind veered from N to NE but had only little teeth and those not very pointy. In fact, decked in my shiny new [thanks to ridiculous discount] winter fleece I was very warm and found myself regretting not lugging a water bottle with me. I overtook a group of DofEers, who turned off towards Rough Tor in annoyance ["How can someone in such a ridiculous hat catch us?!?" ;) ] but otherwise there were only distant hordes on the far tops - glorious! Fur Tor had some climbers, but I went to a spot in the boulder clitter [proper boulder clitter - sofa to truck size!] away from the big bits where it was nicely private. South and West and North ranged my view, with Brent Tor framed by fields, and with my li'l scope rested on my knees, nothing escaped my sight from the English Channel to the Bristol...

A less pleasant note now, I have to mention that there used to be a permanent Letterbox there, under the main outcrop - steel and concrete. I say 'used to be' because some thieving *£$&^$@£$%($+*§~ [*] stole it; not just the stamp [which is bad enough and did happen now and again] but the whole lot - they must have brought some serious gear to do it... [[This actually happened in late 2008, I think, but I didn't have this blog then, so as I am reminded of it now, you have to put up with my ranting. Sorry.]] Same thing happened at Fox Tor a long while back [you can still see the concrete emplacement, by the Fox]. Private Letterboxes get stolen all the time, a contemptible little crime, but the Four are, [or rather were] special and stealing them is especially heinous in my humble opinion at least.

[[ [*] Ancient Devonian Swear-words, which I am not allowed to translate.]]

Bird-wise the journey to and from [aided and abetted by some creative navigation] produced a small group of Redwing, and a couple of Brambling in with one of two sizable finch flocks. On the walk itself the usual moorland species were about, with a good number of Raven [at least 15] congregating near Lints Tor [must be something deceased]. At least 4 and probably 6 Wheatear played peekaboo at Fur Tor, and speaking of them... [[Controversy Alert, turn your eyes away now, Proper Birders!]] You know that 'Isabelline Wheatear' that turned up in Suffolk? Odd-looking thing, I thought. At least one of the Northern Wheatears at Fur Tor was a dead ringer for it, not to mention quite a few other autumn-plumaged Northern Wheatears I've seen... In fact, it looked much less like an Issie than the bird I saw back in September. Having said that, everyone knows you don't get Issies in Devon in September [or any other time], and you do in Suffolk in October, so that's ok. I know photos can of course be very misleading - in the feather its one thing, in a photo its another - and I'm not questioning my Betters, of course, but I think either the literature needs some updating or[[[THIS BLOG HAS BEEN TERMINATED FOR HERESY]]]

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