Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Active Dartmoor goes to the Dartmoor shows.

It's been a busy but fun filled couple of weeks, with Okehampton Show, Active Summer Day at the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre at Princetown, and Chagford Show. Very sadly we had to cancel our trip with the show trailer to the lovely Lustleigh Show, as the torrential rain would not have done our lovely magazines any good at all! 

Big thank you to Dartmoor Search and Rescue, Plymouth, for getting the trailer into position in front of the visitor centre in Princetown. We'd dropped it off the evening before so I was unable to shift it myself!

One of the Active Dartmoor team,  our intrepid David, drove up from Cornwall just for the 10K run at  Lustleigh, here he is setting off in the rain, far right of picture in blue. He did well, apparently managing to get past several other runners in the last 3K and is currently writing the whole experience up for us in the autumn issue of the magazine. 

                                                                              A great attraction at the Active Summer Day at Princetown was the Dart Rock climbing wall. A large number of very small children seemed to scoot up to the very top at alarming speed, they don't seem to have any fear at a young age! I literally had to cover my eyes several times, a morbid fear of heights combined with a natural aversion to seeing small people dangling in space made for uncomfortable viewing, but the young lads coaching them were brilliant, not one child had a second of trouble. Sadly I was talking to someone when the lovely Richard Drysdale of Dartmoor National Park Authority, who had overseen the whole day, took his turn up the wall, so I'm disappointed not to be able to show you any pictures of his endeavor. But a big thank you to him for taking such good care of us all, and regularly plying us with hot drinks to stave off the cold!

The Active Dartmoor dogs Daisy and Skye have been a great asset during the shows, so many children love to come and give them a bit of attention, which gives me the opportunity to chat to the parents about Active Dartmoor. It has to be said though, that after a few hours of this Skye starts to lie at the back of the trailer and refuses to speak to anyone, so at that stage I pop her into the van for a snooze!

It has been absolutely wonderful to catch up with lots of old friends, and meet lots of new people, many of whom have become friends or supporters through advertising, by email or telephone, or on Social Media but we'd not previously met up in person. Lots of plans for working together with various organisations and businesses have been hatched, and plenty of ideas for new articles in the autumn and spring issues came to light. Working together, joining up with as many different people across Dartmoor as possible, we are sure this is the right approach in these difficult times. 

The Active Dartmoor trailer is looking splendid, many thanks to the businesses who have supported us by sponsoring panels this year. National Trust Dartmoor, Malcolm Snelgrove Photography, Adventure Clydesdale at Brimpts Farm, Dartmeet, Spirit of Adventure and Young Spirit, Powdermills, Postbridge, Outdoor Trail in Ivybridge. Could not have done it without you, and this trailer is an absolute joy when the weather is not as kind as it could be! 

See you at Widecombe Fair!!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Active Dartmoor magazine. The excitement of publishing.

Active Dartmoor magazine, summer issue 2014. It's done! We await with much anticipation the delivery of the hard copies at the end of this week. This is what it's all about, the months of preparation, planning and discussions, the late nights, early mornings, writing copy, editing, editing again, endless chasing up of content and artwork and rising stress levels culminate in a moment of huge relief as the proofs are uploaded to the portal at the waiting printers, and they take over the process.

The most exhilarating moment of course, is still to come! This Friday Simon and I will take delivery of thousands of copies of the magazine in its printed form, and oh the nervous excitement! First of all, the heady smell, I can never resist burying my head in the first copy and breathing deep, then the slightly anxious scan through the pages. Do they look good, are the colours bright enough, do the headlines and titles stand out as we planned, so many things to look at in those first seconds! Then the rush of joy, the realization that it's okay, it looks fantastic, everyone will be happy! Then that look at each other...."Okay, brilliant, let's get on with the next one!" Addictive, exciting process..... publishing a magazine!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Dartmoor is magic for children of all ages :-)

My deep and abiding love for Dartmoor was born in me as a child and has only got stronger over the (many) years. I was blessed with parents who had enough patience and love of the outdoors to load up our old Bedford Van with my brothers and me, plus assorted friends and other family members and cart us all up to Dartmoor from our home in Paignton.
And oh what fun then ensued! My dad was never one for shortcuts to camping and eating al fresco, we had old fashioned canvas tents, washed in the river, and all food was cooked from scratch over a camp fire. For me, pony mad since I was a toddler, the highlight was always finding and watching the beautiful Dartmoor Ponies. Over fifty years later, nothing has changed, my favourite moments are still spent amongst the ponies, losing all track of time as that old enchantment washes through me.

So now, when my own grandson came to visit me on Dartmoor with his parents last weekend, from his home in Finland, it was with joy and excitement that I led him on walks to discover for himself the magic of Dartmoor.

 We started close to home, there's something about small boys, a pond, a stick, a dog or two and complete freedom! In his element he discovered goldfish, dragon flies, frogs and a band of Dartmoor Mares and foals, all around the perimeter of a gloriously muddy edged pond.

We graduated to walks up the steep side of Cosdon Beacon, collecting "Dinosaur bones" and running through ferns that have grown twice as high as him. Apparently grown ups, and especially granny who is recovering from a knee replacement, are a bit slow for an energetic five year old, so he took to following in the dogs footsteps instead. Oh to have that energy!

Sunday saw us exploring the base of Belstone Tor and the Nine Maidens stone circle on the far side of Watchet Hill. Sitting on a handy granite boulder watching him run with the dogs as fast as his legs could carry him down the hill to the brink of flying off his feet, it occurred to me yet again how immensely privileged those of us who either live on or visit Dartmoor are. This extraordinary wilderness over which we are able to roam at will, with its history, stories and legends to fascinate us. I hope we never, ever take it for granted, and that everyone enjoying their time here cares for it well.

As if the weather gods knew this was such a special and magical weekend for me and my family, the sun shone throughout the afternoon for the Belstone Fair. My son and I had the fun of introducing his Finnish wife and their now bi-lingual son to the somewhat eccentric and traditional customs of a Dartmoor village summer fair.
Maypole dancing, coconut shy, egg throwing, egg and spoon races, dog races, men running up and down Cosdon at speed, for fun, and not least of all tea and cakes.
This was indeed a perfect weekend, one I hope young Oli will remember for a long time, and that will have sown the seed in his heart of a life long love and enjoyment of Dartmoor. Just like it happened to his Granny.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Active Dartmoor gets an evening out :-)

 Wonderful evening last night at the High Moorland Visitor Centre to celebrate the refurbishments. Richard Drysdale doing a great job of hosting the event, lovely "Twitter Sam" chatting with Peter Harper (right), newly elected Chairman of the Dartmoor National Park Authority
 All sorts of lovely new merchandise now on sale in the centre, all promoting Dartmoor as a rich source of natural and locally produced goods.

 Alex Nail and Guy Richardson tell the story of the Time Lapse film they produced under such testing conditions.
 Even Sherlock Holmes is fascinated, he is one of the lovely new interactive displays in the gallery.
Not a sound from the audience as we were treated to a viewing of the magical film. If you've not seen it yet, do try to make it up to Princetown, it's beautiful and so worth the effort!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Alex Nail/Guy Richardson time lapse film. Active Dartmoor finds the story behind it.

Many people have made excited noises about the wonderful time lapse film that's showing in the gallery at the High Moorland Visitor Centre, Princetown. This 8 minute long, enchanting film was the brainchild of Alex Nail and Guy Richardson, both superb photographers who decided they wanted to try something on Dartmoor National Park that had hitherto only been done on this scale in the American National Parks.

When Active Dartmoor was invited up to High Moorland Visitor Centre to view the film and gallery I was so impressed I asked Alex and Guy some questions about the background, process and difficulties encountered in the making of the film. To my surprise I have received a wonderfully detailed account of what it took to produce this true work of art, born of dedication and a deep love of Dartmoor.

The whole process from start to finish took this intrepid pair 13 months, using all of their experience of Dartmoor locations, photographic expertise and technical skills, not to mention endless patience. There is a wealth of fascinating fact and figures in the background information they have given me about the project, so I am going to take the time to write a full feature and publish it on the website and hopefully in the magazine too. I plan to get it onto the website next week, along with the short trailer, and will keep everyone informed as to when they can read this inspiring, exciting account of when, how and where this wonderful film was created. For now, Alex and Guy, Active Dartmoor salutes you!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Active Dartmoor goes foal spotting

 It was brought home to me yesterday how lucky these glorious mares and foals are to have this part of the moor, and the village as well to call home. We were driving across the moor between Princetown and Ashburton to visit Adventure Clydesdale and passed several bands of very scrawny, rough coated thin ponies of all colours and sizes. Many of them had foals at foot, but quite a few looked as if they were struggling to cope with the demands of feeding them.

The mares and youngsters here seem to have an easier time of it, even though high up on the North Moor here the weather can be savage and hard to deal with. They seem to have discovered the joys of a fairly easy, quiet life in and around the village, and funnily enough the visitors do tend on the whole to be respectful of their space. There are some beauties here, these two are slightly different types but absolute crackers!

I wish something could be done to give the little ones we saw yesterday a bit more of a chance, they look as if they are having a tough time of it. So many visitors were stopping on the side of the road to take photographs, but I can't help but think they will go home with a slightly skewed idea of what a Dartmoor Pony really looks like, not much of a likeness to the emblem on the National Park signs of the iconic pony.

So far this year, we've got this little piebald colt, a really sweet skewbald filly and today a tiny bay filly who's pictures will appear soon!
These ponies are just as tough and hardy as any Dartmoor pony needs to be, they cope well with the extreme weather up here, but they're bright and smart enough to  take the easy life when it's available to them!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Active Dartmoor meets the SSIJ fundraisers.

 There was so much going on all over Dartmoor this weekend, Dartmoor Classic cyclosportive, Safety on Dartmoor Day at Lydford, to name but two. I happened to be out on Belstone Green just at the time that this merry band of fundraisers came pounding up the hill from the River Taw, so of course I asked them what they were doing and if they'd mind me taking a photo. They told me they were part of Something Silly in June, a fundraising group doing the Dartmoor Challenge, 300 miles in 4 days. Cycling 120 miles by road from Salisbury to Dartmoor, then two days running 60 miles, then a nice 120 mile road ride home on Sunday! A huge effort by the team, to raise funds for Melanoma UK. I'm in awe.

In fairly sharp contrast to all the frantic activity out on other parts of the moor, I was struck by the most gentle of scenes here, when I noticed a family with small children enjoying a quiet picnic surrounded by sheep with their lambs and a small group of wild ponies with one small foal.
All of which just goes to show that Dartmoor is big enough for everyone to enjoy in their own way, from endurance racing to a family picnic.

Talking of the wild ponies and foal, here he is, the little  beauty who is the subject of much  speculation in the village as to the identity of his sire! He is growing fast and gaining in confidence every day, but still young enough that he's not straying much further than a few yards from his very protective mum yet

Work has started in earnest on the summer issue this week with the return of Simon from his holiday. The hugely talented Equestrian Photographer Malcolm Snelgrove has  been busy with a photo shoot for Active Dartmoor, so look out for his images in various places over the next few weeks!