Photo Diary

Archive for July, 2008


Thursday, July 31st, 2008

DSC_0041.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

And so it came to pass, after trying to organise, off and on, a walk over Dartmoor to cover the mediaeval boundary of 1280 or so for at least five years – at last, this month, July of 2008, Fred, Andy and I were in a position to try it.

We set off early-ish on Tuesday. the -ish part was due to having to drive a car to Princetown so that we had a vehicle to walk to. But delivering it and driving back held us up somewhat.

Still, off we toddled, up Cawsand, and along to head for Ivy Tor Water, where we’d go due west to Cullever Steps. Yes, boring, I know. Sadly, my daughter, who was desperately keen to join us, grew more than a little distressed, and we had to make a detour to Belstone to drop her off with my wife before continuing.

Now all this would have been fine on a cool, pleasant day. It wasn’t. I don’t take photos in the wet – mainly because I don’t want the camera to catastrophically fail – but take it from me, I’ve hardly ever seen weather like it, even on the moors. The rain was blowing so horizontally, it didn’t make a splash on the puddles. It just flew over them and straight into us.

Luckily we were prepared. I’ve taken to a military style poncho. All I have to do is push my head through the head-hole, and drape the thing over my front and back, and hey-presto! Camera and camera bag are covered and protected. Fred, the cool one in some kind of black, paramilitary or fetishistic uniform, was in fact perfectly dry from the rain. The clever materials he wore stopped any rain getting to him – although he confessed to feeling lightly steamed by the impact of his own sweat!

Andy, however, wore jeans and a cotton shirt. He got drenched!

On we went, from Cullever to Yes Tor, thence to Higher Willhays, before heading more or less due south.

This picture was taken from our most southerly point on the walk, somewhere near Sandy Ford. After this, we headed east to Dinger Tor, then took some trails circuitously to Steeperton, Metheral, Little Hound, and home. It was a great day, but . . . Still aching now, two days later.

Must get up there more!


Thursday, July 31st, 2008

DSC_0026.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Look at them. Fine figures of men, both. Fred and Andy, two of my oldest buddies from university days, and excellent companions on our epic North Dartmoor walk. This picture was taken at the highest point of the moor, Higher Willhays – in a short interval between showers.


Thursday, July 31st, 2008

DSC_0032.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Of course, the nice thing about a walk on the moors is the potential views. However, when they include a sight of thunderous clouds like this lot, you sort of lose some interest. And when you reflect that the nearest road is maybe three miles away, over rough, stony ground, you just shoulder the rucksack and throw on your poncho with grim resolve, tightening all the straps and belting the poncho firmly.

Andy, of course, up here on the highest point of the moors, an area notable for a total absence of trees and similar lightning conductors, was using his nice, shiny, (pink!) walking sticks. “They’re carbon fibre,” he said. We disabused him.


Thursday, July 31st, 2008

DSC_0035.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

About the most southerly point of our walk. We’d intended going a lot further – this was only one third of my planned walk – but the fact that the army was in-between us and our target of Princetown was a slight distraction, and the lousy weather did affect our judgement too. Oh, and the fact that the hill opposite was absolutely horrible!


Thursday, July 31st, 2008

DSC_0052.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

I took this, at Steeperton Gorge, really to remind myself just how steep the gorge is, rather than to show how pretty it is. Coming down one side (left of the photo), we slithered cautiously, hoping not to fall to the bottom in one long (ultimately painful) slide. At least, while at the top, looking over the river, we could see some definite tracks, probably from sheep, which wandered up over Steeperton towards the other side. OK, we thought, that’ll do us.

Fred was first down. He sprang, Gazelle-like, up the slope to find the tracks. Could we find them? Could we bugger! No sign at all, so instead we spent ages clambering up the slop on the right, killing thighs and calves at the same time, until we’d made it to the Steeperton Brook at the other side, where we could cross over to the gentler lands of Metheral Hill.


Thursday, July 31st, 2008

DSC_0071.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

You will never know just how welcome this old path was when we saw it! Walking nearly twenty miles over hills, rocks, grass up to the groin and all in rain and hail, for over nine hours, was more than a little testing to a bunch of grumpy old devils in their late forties. Still, at least the last mile or so was better, and as you can see, it dried up for us at the very end. And it was good to have done it!


Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

DSC_0022.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Thurrock’s Belhus Library last night, and a wonderful evening it was, too (for me, anyway). I got out of the office for a few hours, and was provided with an audience who apparently wanted to listen to me. One lady even came all the way from Great Yarmouth to listen. They were on holiday there – they live in Perth, Western Australia, though, and booked their tickets from there. So if there are any other antipodeans out there, keep an eye on the website when you’re sorting out your holidays in the UK!

Many thanks to the fabulous team at Thurrock. Jenny, Annette and Rachel. One expert crisp-sprinkler, one expert cook, and one poor soul who’s going to have to nip out and buy a new camera and bag shortly!


Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

DSC_0069.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Lovely old Berner. They are such a calm, easy-going breed. I’ve had three now, and this is typical. Calm, easy-going, gentle, and wonderful guards!


Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

DSC_0072.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

The East Ockment river has so much variety, it’s one of the loveliest rivers down here, I reckon.Huge cataracts where the water thunders past, and massive broad sweeps where the water seems to just slip past almost silently. The dogs love it. Trouble is, poor old Dori tends to overdo it every time. After this walk, she couldn’t get up without limping for the rest of the day. Need to build up the strength in her hips with lots of long walks on the lead, I think. Has to be on the lead so the Ridgie terrorist doesn’t pester her the whole way.


Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

DSC_0090.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

The road to Belstone is a lovely track. It winds rather like an alpine road – but with fewer vertiginous drops and rather more lush greenery. This is pretty typical of the look of it. There’re a couple of houses up at the top which I dearly wish I could afford to buy. Maybe if I get a film made!