icepixie: (Look up)
MyPhotoAlbum seems to be back up, so now you can actually see all the photos I linked to last time. I've also added the oh-so-cute miniature pony pictures and some more of Dartmoor.

And that's it for Europe. Kind of sad to be done, really...
icepixie: (miles to go)
So the big news for today is that I ran afoul of a bog.

Of course, there's backstory to this. Ellen and I decided to spend a day on Dartmoor as my last bit of Devon before I leave the country for good. We went first to the Minature Pony Centre, where I nearly imploded from the cuteness, especially of the foal that made him/herself my special buddy. There are many pictures, which I will share at some point soon after I get home (and have access to my webserver again). These things are smaller than some dogs I've known. It's crazy. There was a baby goat that was roughly the size of a small cat. It was all definitely geared towards the under-five set, but cuteness is for all ages, is it not? We were, however, wishing we'd worn shorts instead of pants, as it was quite hot out in those paddocks. (And I cannot believe I'm calling what could only have been 75F at the most "hot." I'm going to die when I get back to Nashville.)

Anyway. Then we continued on to the place we did our first Dartmoor hike and took the same path for a while, this time taking a different fork than the previous October. Saw a nice bridge, saw a bunch of cows, lots of sheep, etc. etc. Climbed a small tor, which was entertaining. Watched the mist roll in, because oh, wait, it's Dartmoor, and it isn't Dartmoor without mist.

After the tor, we decided to take what we thought was a fairly well-marked shortcut back to the town. There was practially a straight line between the tor and a part of the path closest to the town, but the real trail took us on a big loop before connecting, sort of like the two legs of a triangle versus the hypotenuse. To continue the geometry metaphor, we took the hypotenuse, which kind of turned into a sheep path, and then not a path at all. We didn't get lost (well, not exactly...not for more than a few minutes, anyway, and that was mostly because we couldn't see over the hill to where we knew the path was), but we did kind of run into a bog. And there was no way to get to the real trail except to go through the bog. Now, it is, technically, possible to get through a bog without getting too wet as long as you can quickly figure out which plants have root systems and are thus solid enough to step on and which most definitely do not. Hint: Tall bushy things? Good. Reedy things with bits of cotton fluff stuck to them? Very, very bad. However, if you're not entirely cognizant of the fact that there is a bog there, and not just a very enthusiastic stream, it can and will get muddy. Me not quite so much, but Ellen was having serious issues up to her knees.

My boots were already on their last legs and needing to be replaced within a month or so (three years of love, including wearing them for much walking daily for five-month stretches, will do that to a pair of shoes), so this was just the proverbial nail in the coffin. Hey, at least I don't have to pack them. This totally served a purpose in helping to eliminate the amount of stuff I need to shove into suitcases tomorrow.
icepixie: (miles to go)


The Kraken! Run for the hills!




Okay, so it's actually a scary tree on a very, very foggy day on Dartmoor. But anyway.

So, Dartmoor. To say it was foggy today is something of a gross understatement, as can be seen here. Still, we soldiered on and around Haytor for an hour or so through the fog (so thick that I seriously lost sight of members of our group when they were less than three yards in front of me). Then we had a very tasty lunch at a hotel restaurant/pub in a tiny town on the edge of Haytor. Nice outing, all in all. Not nearly as windy as last time, thankfully.

And now I'm exhausted and going to bed, I think.
icepixie: (Default)
Dartmoor Pictures! )

Man, just looking at these again makes me want to go throw myself off a cliff or something. It was neat, but rather unsettling all the same. It's the kind of place where you feel like something's sneaking up behind you all the time...oh, wait, that was [livejournal.com profile] rowdycamels. Never mind. ;) Still, the disturbingness of it remains. I'm gonna have dreams about the Hound of the Baskervilles or something tonight...
icepixie: (October twilight)
Well, Dartmoor didn't go quite as planned. So it's a good thing that I (planner and control freak extraordinaire) was with [livejournal.com profile] rowdycamels and [livejournal.com profile] softstepshoes, who are good at improvising, or the day could have gone very bad very quickly.

Anyway. We'd intended to take the bus to the Miniature Pony Farm and Petting Zoo, then wander around the moors until the bus came to pick us up. It sort of worked. We got on the bus, but it went flying past the pony place before we could blink. Undaunted, we decided to wait for the next stop and walk back...except the next stop was several miles away. So no ponies for us. We'll see them when we go back in the spring, along with the otter and butterfly sanctuary. Because in the spring, we're making someone take us in a car. The buses try hard, and they go to a lot of interesting places from Exeter, but they don't go between these interesting places, which is sort of what we wanted.

Anyway, we eventually got off the bus and walked a little ways to a village called Princetown. We had lunch at a great little cafe--great fish and chips, really nice people, all in all a lovely place. Then we went to the visitors' center to see which of the myriad stone circles on our map we should attempt to hike to in our limited time.

Really, really glad we talked to the people there, because the guy there mentioned that bushwhacking was a bad, bad idea without at least a massive map and a compass, if not a tent and a week's worth of food, not to mention knee-high waders. Okay, we probably would have figured this out on our own before we got lost beyond all hope of finding the road again, but it was good to know not to even try it. Unlike certain professors who I will not name, we weren't that interested in falling in a bog.

Instead, the guy suggested we try the track made by an old, disused railroad, which was infinitely better than wandering around open moorland. Okay, so sometimes it wasn't so much a track as a streambed, but at least it was marked... Although it was hard not to get blown off it by the wind. I had NO IDEA how windy it is on those moors. NONE. Holy crap. It was constant, with big gusts every few minutes. I'm no good at judging windspeed, but a rough guess would be sustained winds of 30-40 mph, with gusts up to 70 mph. I felt like I was in a the outer bands of a hurricane, or possibly a small tornado. The birds were having serious flying issues. During the big gusts, you could lean forward past your center of gravity, and the wind would hold you up for a few seconds. It was crazy. And of course, it was also quite cold, even when we were walking and attempting to work up a sweat.

We walked through a bunch of sheep fields (sheep just sort of roam free all through the park, as far as I can tell) and tussocky things strewn with blocks of granite, and eventually stumbled upon some circular formations of stone. I think they were the foundations of medieval, or possibly earlier, huts. Very cool. We kept walking, and soon came to the remains of a disused quarry (rock from which presumably the railroad was built to carry) that was great fun to wander around in. There were hollowed-out remains of two buildings, the purpose of which we never figured out, as well as the quarry itself, which was probably pretty small as quarries go, but still impressive. Of course, it was filled with water, which the wind whipped up into rather large waves, considering the fact that it was protected on all sides by rock. Oh, and there were more sheep, of course.

Wandering back, Chandra and I first decided to dance on the moor. I've forgotten most of the Irish step dance steps she's taught me, so I was sort of making up my own thing, but she did something recognizable. Recognizable as what, I have no idea, but I'm sure it was. We then ran into one of the famed Dartmoor ponies, or at any rate a pony, who was very interested in any food we might be able to give him/her. Mmmm, ginger snap. Feeling a bit hungry ourselves, and having an hour before the bus would be back by, we had a cream tea at that cafe we stopped at for lunch. I so need to figure out a way to import clotted cream back to the US.

Anyway, bus back to Exeter, walk back to Lafrowda, collapse in exhaustion. I'm finally able to contemplate dinner after that cream tea at 3:30, so I suppose I'll go do that. Pictures in a bit!

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