Mystical Dartmoor

It’s been too long since the last post about my England trip and I apologize for that. But now! I continue with a day-trip to the southern edge of England. Coming from Bristol we drove to Torquay and then (only slightly disappointed about the very touristy “English Riviera”) we made our way into the beautiful Dartmoor National Park. This is a report about a day full of adventure in a rough landscape, a quest for stone circles and criminal ponies…

Dartmoor National ParkSoon after we entered the National Park the roads became very narrow, framed by nostalgic stone walls covered with moss and flowers on each side. I admit I started sweating a little expecting another car coming towards us at any time. Some other German people in a camper van who obviously didn’t read the sign “Not suitable for wide vehicles” drove in front of us for a few kilometers and then had to give up. We drove through forests, crossed stone bridges and watched the water of a stream flow sparkling over round rocks.

Dartmoor stone bridge Dartmoor river rocks water stream

It was my declared aim to see stone circles or something similar this day. I have always been fascinated by old stuff, relicts of former times and ancient cultures. I love to stand in the middle of a ruin and imagine what happened there, how people lived and why they built this. Yes, I am a history nerd, I confess. But back to Dartmoor: I was determined to find me some stone circles, so I had browsed the internet the day before our trip and found the stone circles and rows of “Merrivale”. Because apparently there are hundreds of ancient settlements and ceremonial places of the Bronze Age in Dartmoor, I decided it had to be this one. When we arrived there we rushed straight past because Merrivale is no village but only three houses or so and if it weren’t for the navigation system we would have missed it completely. Only green grassland everywhere and no signs of any stone circles. So we drove into a deserted parking lot where only a very bored ice-cream seller sat in his vehicle and I asked him if he knew the stone circles of Merrivale. All I got was a pitying look and a short “I have no idea”. I could literally see him thinking something about female Germans that read to many books of Diana Gabaldon. Well, back in the car I consulted Google again and found a map on a website for history nerds that proved more useful (if you would like to follow my quest for stone circles in Merrivale, go ahead! 🙂 ). But still we walked without orientation across an endless meadow for about 10 minutes before we stumbled across the first stone circle. But then we saw more…

Dartmoor stone circle

Stone circle. Supposedly the stone were standing upright once.

Dartmoor stone cist

Stone Cist, a grave in the ground covered with a heavy stone.

Dartmoor stone row

Stone Row, one of two long rows of upright stones with stone circles at their ends.

Finally, we had enough of mystical ceremonial places and started our way home. On the way we saw hundreds of sheep, cattle and, most important: the famous wild Dartmoor ponies. Well, not that they are especially wild, but free-roaming through the park. Driving past another car park, I spotted a little flock and my boyfriend gave in to my “how sweet!” cries and stopped. The alpha pony came towards me as soon as I got out of the car and let me stroke it.

Dartmoor wild ponies Dartmoor wild ponyIt was clear that it expected food of me because it looked quite annoyed and showed me its back after a while (by the way it’s illegal to feed them). Later I thought the whole thing might have been a diversionary tactic, because meanwhile in the back of the car park this scene happened:

Dartmoor wild ponies

Never leave your car unattended in Dartmoor: Wild ponies caught in the act, trying to burgle the car!


2 thoughts on “Mystical Dartmoor

  1. Pingback: 3 things I learned in: England (London/Bristol 2015) | Wonderland

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