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Hiking on
Dartmoor
and by the
South Devon Coast Path
October 16th - 23rd, 1999

Launched October 24th, 1999
Ronald Langereis - 1999 - Amsterdam


Day Three - Monday, October 18th

Second hike on the moors - Newbridge to Ponsworthy and Holne - 10 m
Visiting Buckfast Abbey

Pictures Description
Buckfast Abbey, all there is to know about it: History, stained glass and apiculture In the morning we'll pay a visit to Buckfast Abbey first. It's a Benedictine abbey, that suffered from the Dissolution, but from the outset of the XXth century was rebuild in 34 years by a handful of inspired monks. By clicking on the first picture you'll be beamed up to their site without delay.
As I am allergic to clergymen, I toured the premises on my own, while my party was watching the video about the abbey's resurrection and present day activities. The gift-shop was already open, but the restaurant I found closed. Later on we entered the abbey church, where I sat myself into one of the benches and stayed there, while the others were walking around. At times arbitrary bits of chanting resounded and died away.
When a bunch of my party entered the choir, they were welcomed by a monk, saying: 'You're now approaching one of the ugliest things in the world,' pointing at the stained glass window that lights the choir. Which was, indeed, a very humorous thing to say for a monk.
When I looked at my watch, I realised ten o'clock might be the time for the restaurant to open. I prayed I would prove right in this, and so much for the efficacy of prayer, when I neared the restaurant the sign had been removed miraculously and the door, indeed, was open!
More miracles were to come, for during the day the weather cleared and this day became a day of beauty and sunshine, the enjoyment of the rapids of the Dart and even of eating a '99' with a bar of pure chocolate sticking out from its top.

Today we'll start at the car park, near the 'new bridge' over the Dart. This bridge was 'new' in the XVth century, and never broadened since. It is a 'pack-horse bridge', and now you'll see reason in why we deploy ourselves in small vans instead of travelling by coach.
This bridge will remain the focus of today's stage, for in fact we'll walk the two loops of a giant cypher 'eight', which bend together at this bridge crossing the gallant river Dart. Dartmoor, of course, owes its very name to the river, which passes Totnes and at Dartmouth spills its waters into the sea, eventually.
The first, and greater loop lies on the left side of the Dart, leading up from the valley across relatively open country with meadows and hedges, into the hills. From there we turn back to the valley again following a path that's called 'Dr Blackall's Drive', after a Dr Blackall who in the XIXth century had this path cut out to enjoy the view from his coach.
At the second loop we crossed the bridge and followed the road, slowly climbing for about half a mile. Then we turned right, passing over a stile, and now it was climbing in earnest by a steep sloping tree-lined meadow to the top of the hill. Eventually we hit on a macadam road that led us to the village of Holne, its thatched cottages and medieval church. Leaving Holne we followed the lay of the hills and looking beyond the river descried the old quarry in the cheek of the opposite hill, where some hours before we had lain down for a while to deepen our sun-tan. After some miles we left the road, turning to the right to join the Dart in its densely wooded vale. There, at a rapid, we sat on a jutting rock, watching the dark river water turn white in the fray and listening merrily to the on-going sound of its softly thundering course.
After a visit to Buckfast Abbey, the second day on the moors started in much more friendly and cultivated land
Entering a village from the higher meadows
'Who comes down must go up again.' Decidedly, Hermes Trismegistus only told half of the truth.
To our delight the sun was coming out, lending an extra lustre to this beautiful spot
The ravages of the former day had split the group into three: The brisk walkers, the less brisk walkers and the leg-impaired stay-behind. Guess which ones are these.
Climbing by a macadam road we're on the moor again. From here we turned left to meet the valley of the Dart, following its course from on high
This dark wood on the opposite side of the river made a beautiful contrast to the pale grasses and withered ferns
Having walked on for half a mile, I turned round to take in the view of the river's guards on either side
A breath-taking descend brought us down to this old quarry, where once a chestnut grove will thrive, due to Miep's handfuls of strewn chestnuts picked up elsewhere
The old bridge over the Dart. After a short break part of the briskies set out for a fresh walk on the other side of the river
The quarry again, where we had paused some hours before, now just a dent into the hillside.
Go to Photo Album for an adjacent view

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