<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Devon Life today click here

Matt Parkins visits Dartmoor

PUBLISHED: 13:00 28 April 2016

Jane Scott took this photograph at Ditsworthy, where scenes for War Horse were filmed

Jane Scott took this photograph at Ditsworthy, where scenes for War Horse were filmed

Archant

Matt Parkins ponders the future of Dartmoor

Feeling the warm sun soaking through to my bones, I’ve found the perfect vantage point to wait among the angular granite boulders of Leather Tor. I’m scanning one of the most picturesque but windswept panoramas of Dartmoor.

Over my right shoulder the sparkle of early morning sun reflects from the rippled surface of Burrator Reservoir and the steep bank of forest rising from the waterside is topped by the amber bracken of Sheeps Tor.

This is the landscape made world famous by the film War Horse. My eye follows the edge of the deep green tree line, now looking north; Princetown stands alone in the far distance. The security of the prison was probably enhanced by its remoteness, making a successful escape more challenging.

This imposing environment is the reason I’m here. I’m supervising a group of young people on their Duke of Edinburgh expedition.

They don’t know where I am, it’s remote supervision and they are navigating independently...and doing a great job too. Through binoculars I see four figures with large packs making headway on a moorland track perhaps two miles away. That’s them, on route and on time. I keep an eye on them as they drop down the forestry track into the valley.

Knowing they are safe and progressing well, I have time to take in the sunlit scene and wild life around me. Across the open moor I hear a familiar sound - clicking pebbles. I haven’t heard that since last year. Perched on a rock is a wheatear; the iconic Dartmoor bird has returned for the summer and, with a flash of white from its tail, it’s gone.

Spending this day watching and waiting gives me time to think.

Steven Spielberg saw the magic of this landscape and, more than just a location, he gave it a starring role in the War Horse movie. A century on from the Great War and the moor probably hasn’t changed all that much. Our predecessors would recognise its expansive character and I hope they would be pleased with the way it is being cared for now.

Two hours later I’ve taken up a new position where I catch the walkers for a quick chat after they have crossed the road to Princetown.

They’re enjoying their expedition; though a little weary on their third day. Last night’s sleep was disturbed by a fox searching their bags in vain for a snack.

I’m inspired by these young people. They put in a lot of effort and determination to achieve their silver award. They all have ambitions too; maybe for higher education, the Navy reserves or a career in music. As individual as they are, they formed a great team. I hope they continue to go for gold.

They are very busy though, and can be under pressure to fit it all in. During the expedition weekend I happened to meet one of their science teachers. She was concerned: “But she needs to be revising for her exams!”

I’m confident that she can do both if she puts this much effort into what she does. The Duke of Edinburgh experience will make her, and all young people who take part, confident and rounded people. I feel sure the future will be safe in the hands of these guardians of the moor. n

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Wed, 17:04

Encompassing large swathes of Dartmoor and plenty of the county’s most distinctive sections of coastline, it’s no wonder that the South Hams district is home to some of Devon’s prettiest places. We pick out 10 of the best towns and villages the area has to offer

Read more
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The South West Coast Path has led to romance for many couples. Now Becky Millington wonders, will she be next?

Read more
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

From watching the sunset on Ilfracombe’s beach to taking moonlit walks in Exeter, we have chosen 12 reasons to spend Valentine’s Day in Devon…

Read more
Friday, February 9, 2018

May is a great time to see bluebells slowly cover Devon’s landscape, providing a wash of colour to truly emphasise the start of spring. We pick seven top spots for bluebell walks in the county

Read more
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The 16km route around Bowerman’s nose was named 57th in the country after 8,000 walking enthusiats voted in a survey for the ITV programme ‘Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100’

Read more
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Whether it’s the culture, nightlife, food & drink, shopping or the family-friendly atmosphere, there’s so many reasons for you to love Exeter. We’ve picked 24 but we know there are so many more

Read more
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Each year, from around January through until March, snowdrops can be seen pushing up through the cold winter soil and transforming our woodlands into white wonderlands. It’s the perfect reminder that spring is on the horizon, bringing with it more light and new life to our green spaces. Here is a list of 9 superb spots in Devon to witness this annual spectacle

Read more
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It’s time to test your knowledge! Can you tell us which beach can be found in which county? Take our quiz and find out...

Read more
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

From stunning sunsets over Barnstaple to meeting the Dartmoor ponies, we have 14 reasons that prove Devon is the prettiest county…

Read more
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Devon is a joy to explore with its beautiful beaches, pretty woodland and charming towns and villages. Made even more magical under a blanket of glistening frost, we pick 12 walks to blow away the cobwebs in the county this winter

Read more
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

It’s been a year since one of the largest fires Exeter has ever known destroyed one of its most iconic landmarks. But the Royal Clarence Hotel is slowly coming back to life, as Chrissy Harris discovers

Read more
Friday, November 24, 2017

Every year local families vote for their favourite Devon family-friendly attraction as part of the Primary Times Reader Star Awards - here are 11 places they have chosen as some of their favourites

Read more
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sprinkled throughout Devon’s cities, towns and villages are some of the most picture-perfect roads and lanes you could ever wish to see. Those of you who are fortunate enough to live on one of these 11 streets will know exactly what we’re talking about

Read more
Friday, November 17, 2017

Think you are familiar with all the South West Coast Path has to offer? Well think again with these 10 secret places on this iconic trail through Devon, revealed by expert Ruth Luckhurst

Read more
 
A+ South & South West
 
Great British Holidays advert link
 
Pure Weddings advert link
 
South West Life advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Local Business Directory

Devon's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search