The outcome last week of a wealthy landowner’s high court case was sadly predictable: he’s used his money to strip people of their legal right to camp on Dartmoor. As the fight to win back this right goes on, I’ll look back fondly on nights I’ve spent on the moor.
I’m no lover of cities, yet I'm drawn to edgelands – those transitional spaces that are neither urban nor rural. Seek them out and you’ll find, laid bare, the threads connecting our built and natural worlds.
We drove through thick fog for an hour before turning onto the mountain road. As I steered the car through the gloom, my eyes were fixed on the narrow lane – but Tom was looking skywards, excited. He’d spotted a patch of blue. To our surprise, by the time we reached the parking place at the start of the walk, we were above the cloud and in the most beautiful of winter days.
We tread carefully along the rock-cut path, our faces misted with spray and our voices raised against the white noise of the plunging water. This is what we’ve come to see, this is Sgwd-yr-Eira – the Falling of the Snow.
It was an adventure I’d dreamed about since a childhood bedtime story – an adventure that spanned 14 years, starting in Minehead when I was a teenager and finishing in Poole as I was about to become a parent.
Another snowfall. Peering through the window into the early-morning gloom we could see a deep covering in the street outside. The hill beyond was obscured by cloud but we knew straight away that we wanted to go up there.
Every winter, I climb the hill behind our house to see the extent of the flooding in the vale below. It’s hard to believe this immense volume of water starts its journey in a muddy puddle on a Welsh hillside.