Before the year was out - Part 2
My final Letterbox walk of 2016 was on the East side of Dartmoor. A short stroll on what proved to be a crowded day around Holwell and Haytor Quarries. I was eager to explore a quieter side to this popular spot, which I will come on to shortly.
I parked below Saddle Tor, and made straight for Holwell Tor. I was searching for two new Letterbox sets sited in the area, and a host of other Boxes too. As were several other notable Letterboxers. The first dry weekday since the clues were released had triggered many walkers to don their boots and grab their compasses. At times during the day, a procession from one one box to the next commenced. It was great to meet the Brixton Pixies, the Saltash Stamper, and others. Alas, though, I decided to cut the walks off early, missing the few boxes around Smallacombe Rocks to the West, and head instead for Haytor granite quarries. This astonishing site of antiquities retains a level of beauty, charm and industrial wonder unmatched - in my opinion - by anywhere else on Dartmoor.
These quarries were worked extensively between the 1820s and 1860s, providing building materials for amongst other things, Exeter's war memorial, and the original London Bridge - which now resides in Lake Havasu City, in Arizona.
After exploring the quarry, and completing my circular route, I ducked down into the Becka brook valley to visit Emsworthy. This area belongs to Devon Wildlife Trust. This nature reserve encompasses the mire - which is a wildlife haven - and a mid 19th century farmhouse, long abandoned, whose fields come alive in June with bluebells. On a cold November day such as this, the bare trees and the grey walls didn't provide such a riot of colour, yet it was no less impressive. Alone in the silent and still atmosphere, I wandered in and around the barn. It is left to the imagination to consider this place in it's 1850s heyday. I felt totally absorbed in the scene as I had been earlier at the quarry. No Letterboxes to be found down here, of course. Check out the nature reserve for yourself: I highly recommend it.
A truly thought provoking and moving day. Which also finished with a total of 19 stamps collected.