A typically varied Dartmoor weekend, starting with a pint and pasty for Widecombe Fair volunteers at the Old Inn on Friday evening.

On Saturday, a Soup for Syria lunch in Morehampstead at Penny Simpson Ceramics (£10 donation for a bowl of soup, and keep the bowl – the money goes to the charity Hand in Hand for Syria for food and medical supplies). Then a cool and draughty walk from Challacombe on the way home past the ruins of a medieval village abandoned in the 14th century, and of Dinah’s house, much later a meeting place and dormitory for local tin miners. Back at Lower Blackaton, the declining snowdrops and first daffodils in the lower garden were framed by trees in front of the long ridge of Hameldown.

On Sunday, it was the official re-opening of Widecombe’s 300-year-old local forge, where horses were shod until 1955. Blacksmith and farrier Nick bought it a few years ago, and on Sunday we were able to watch blacksmiths at work making horse shoes and ornamental ironwork. Then an excellent Sunday roast with friends from way back at Ullacombe Farm Shop and Café just off the moor, followed by a bracing walk along the top of Hameldown.  

Monday started in such glorious warm sunshine that the weekend was prolonged with a walk over right-to-roam moorland and rocks just across the lane, with glorious views over fields and moorland and across Soussons forestry woods past the hidden remains of abandoned tin mines to the Warren House Inn, where miners from nearby Golden Dagger, Vitifer and Birch Tor tin mines ate rabbit from the local warrens (strangely, I rarely see rabbits at Lower Blackaton, and have been told that this is  because buzzards get the babies). At 1,425ft (434m) above sea level, Warren House is just over 300ft higher up than Lower Blackaton – but 300ft lower than the highest point of Hameldown. Both can be part of a longish (several hours) circular walk from LB, although I usually only do a bit at a time.

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