A recent dawn walk, a piece of news, and a rock. WITC is suddenly feeling rather poetic...
In Westminster Abbey in London, the South Transept has a new feature. The Abbey corner recognises an array of talented artists, poets, authors and actors such as William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and Sir Laurence Olivier.
Last month, the name of Ted Hughes, former Poet Laureate and adopted Devon celebrity, was installed on the floor of memorial slabs. Set beside that of his mentor and fellow literary great TS Eliot.
Ted Hughes lived in North Tawton for 30 years and was appointed Poet Laureate in 1984. He was a enthusiastic countryman and is regarded as a nature poet. On his Kirkstone Green slate memorial in Westminster, designed and created by Devon based craftsman, is a line from one of Hughes' River Poems - 'That Morning'.
So we found the end of our journeySo we stood alive in the river of lightAmong the creatures of light, creatures of light
And so it was on that morning that WITC left the car park near Row Tor for the head of the Taw River. It was clear, a bit chilly, with a steady Westerly wind. The former Ring Road firmly closed, but making a firm surface on which to walk out to OP15.
With a few diversions for boxes and meetings, WITC made it to the watershed between the Rivers Taw and East Dart. One destined for the Bristol Channel to the North, whilst the other South and the English Channel. Hardly a Continental Divide, but on a wetter day, it is possible to splash from one to the other and thus link ocean with ocean without getting your feet dry.
In 1977, Hughes paid tribute at a memorial service to Henry Williamson on the subject of Tarka the Otter. A fabulous story set, in part, on Dartmoor. Tarka travels from the shore of the Atlantic near Barnstaple up the Torridge and West Okement River to Cranmere, and descending the Taw to the sea.
It is fitting then that the Ted Hughes memorial stone is sited at the head of the Taw. Standing on a high piece of East bank, its a remote and beautiful spot. It reads "Ted Hughes OM" [His Commonwealth Realm recognition, the Order of Merit] "1930 - 1998".
From here, it is a straight forward walk downstream to meet the old ring road opposite Steeperton Tor and returning to the car. That morning became a great day.