Two different events this week have set me to thinking how Dartmoor is different to so much else of the UK. With the school holiday season upon us and the moor welcoming an influx of visitors from far and wide these events also reminded me of the lessons the moor can teach us all.
Driving out of Princetown on Monday, to a meeting the other side of Tavistock, I saw the sad sight of a dead pony by the roadside, victim of a road accident. There is a 40 mile an hour limit on the moor because of the free roaming livestock. Even though most drivers obey this the ponies, cows and sheep don’t know the Highway Code and will wander at will around and across roads, day and night. At this time of year you have to be especially vigilant as young lambs, foals and calves not only don’t have as much road sense as the older generation, but they will rush straight out into the road after their mothers.
Here on Dartmoor it’s not the cars that have right of way on the roads.
Yesterday saw the happy return of an 82 year old walker who had got lost whilst out letterboxing the day before. Thankfully the weather was mild, he was experienced and well equipped and came to no harm. His daughter knew roughly where he was going and when and where he was expecting to meet her so she was able to raise the alarm when he didn’t show up. Even so 30 plus people searched through the night and didn’t find him.
Dartmoor is big, really big, and it’s easy to lose your way. You need to take it seriously if you are heading out into the moor.
The common thread between both these events is that we humans are used to being the ones in charge, in control and with the right of way. Dartmoor has a habit of reminding us that we are not, we are just part of a bigger picture and that is why Dartmoor is so special.