Tag Archives: dartmoor

Moor than Meets the Eye

A new project is set to start in Dartmoor this year, intended to help people appreciate their cultural and natural environment and develop the skills required to conserve and sustain the region’s heritage for the future.

Moor than Meets the Eye – a collaboration between the Dartmoor Farmers Association, Devon County Council, the Dartmoor Partnership, the Dartmoor Preservation Society, the Duchy of Cornwall, English Heritage, Forestry Commission, Natural England, South West Lakes Trust and the Woodland Trust – will cost £4 million and take six years to complete, with the first phase of funding totalling £100,000 now awarded.

The scheme – which intends to involve local people as much as possible – intends to restore Bronze Age, medieval and industrial sites and buildings, as well as conserving wet valley systems and haymeadows, while protecting species like barbastelle bats and the red-backed shrike. Heritage trails are also to be developed to help visitors understand the story of the moor.

“This Landscape Partnership scheme … will not only help conserve a very precious part of our natural heritage but also encourage local communities to play a much greater role in looking after it,” Richard Bellamy of Heritage Lottery Fund South West said.

Anything that encourages people to play a greater part in looking after the beautiful countryside down here is more than alright by us here at the Two Moors Festival. Keep up the good work!

A Cottage on Dartmoor

This year, it’s been silent movies versus the talkies, with recently released film The Artist winning five Oscars and proving that sometimes, words really can be surplus to requirements – even today, in our information-overloaded society.

Wordquest Devon – a project set up to encourage people to explore Devon’s literary past and present – is joining in the fun by screening Anthony Asquith’s A Cottage on Dartmoor, one of the last silent movies to be made before the talkies came along and revolutionised cinema.

Set on the wilds of Dartmoor, the film tells the tale of prison escapes, jealousy, love and revenge – and Wordquest has arranged for the Seat of the Pants Orchestra to provide a live sound score.

The orchestra itself takes its singers and instrumentalists from a wide range of genres, from urban pop and the West End to jazz, classical and community music. Although the group is based in the south-west, it has provided the accompaniment to many a silent film both at home and internationally. It has played at the Lincoln Centre in New York, at London’s Covent Garden Opera, psychiatric hospitals, prisons and Debenhams, travelling from South Korea to South Africa.


July 21st, Church House, Widecombe. 19:00.

August 21st, Barnstaple Library. 19:00.

September 7th, Exeter Library Music Room. 19:30.

The hills are alive with the sound of moo-sic

The powers of classical music have long been appreciated by many people from all walks of life – and for many different reasons. Some of you just love to listen to the beautiful strains of Rachmaninov and the like, quite a lot of you play it to your babies to make them geniuses and there are a few – not sure how many, mind – that believe it can help your tomatoes grow.

Well, you can now add farmers to the list of those who believe that music is much, much more than just notes on a page. According to a new survey RSPCA Freedom Food, 77 per cent of farmers either play music, have the radio on, chat or sing to their livestock to keep them calm, cool and collected.

Radio 2 has emerged as the most popular station, played by 23 per cent of those asked, with ten per cent admitting they themselves sing to their flocks and herds, including opera, hymns, songs from the 60s and 70s and – rather bizarrely – the soundtrack to the film Born Free, although no mention was made of Old Macdonald Had a Farm. Some of the most popular bands were Aerosmith, Nirvana, Bon Jovi, Coldplay and Eminem.

“Put simply, a stressed and unhappy cow won’t drop her milk but we never have that problem with our girls.  The secret to their happiness and good production is not only giving them the best care we can, under the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme, but tuning into the local radio or Planet Rock at milking time. The cows love a bit of Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. It makes them chilled out and relaxed and that’s what produces great milk,” Freedom Food farmer David Tory said.

It’s certainly moo-sic to our ears, at any rate!

What would you play to your cows if you had a herd of your own?

The Dartmoor Tors

We’re massive fans of the wild expanses of the Dartmoor countryside here at the Two Moors Festival, even though our base has always been a few hours’ drive away among the Exmoor hills. It’s hardly a surprise that so many people travel to the region year in, year out to spend days walking around and about, enjoying the fresh air and fantastic views.

We reckon that more and more tourists will be making their way to Dartmoor in the future, particularly geologists and history-lovers, now that researchers from the universities of Durham and Exeter, and Stockton Riverside College have discovered that the rocky landscape of the area was formed in large part by ice during the last Ice Age – a challenge to all previously held theories on the subject.

Dartmoor is home to one of the largest areas of exposed granite in Britain (which was used to construct parts of Covent Garden, the National Gallery and the British Museum) and the world-famous Ten Tors hike. Tors themselves develop because of weathering and the removal of weathered rock, with the study authors now believing that glacier ice helped form the distinctive Dartmoor landscape.

One tor not to be missed by any walkers heading to Dartmoor is the Dewerstone, a hike that ends with some simply stunning views of the Plymouth Sound bay, fields and forests. The route is suitable for climbers of all abilities, as there are 100 different ways up the Dewerstone. You can go on a bit of an amble and just follow the path if you want to take it easy and enjoy the views, or you can really challenge yourself and give the jump from Pinnacle Buttress to the main crag a go.

The legend of Dewerstone is just as interesting as the formation of its crags, telling the tale of Dewer, a demonic hunter who chased down people who had become lost on the moor, accompanied by a pack of ghostly dogs, the Whist Hounds, and drove them to their deaths off the highest cliff on the tor – the Devil’s Rock.

If you’re planning a Devonshire holiday then this part of Dartmoor will certainly prove impressive – although you’ll have to take your chances with the weather! Let us know if you go – and send in any pictures you’ve taken for our readers’ gallery!

What’s your favourite Dartmoor tor?

Walking with Dartmoor ponies

Dartmoor ponies have been seen roaming the hills and dales of this part of Devon since the Middle Ages and they have now become one of the biggest tourist draws of the countryside, with countless visitors flocking to the area each year to see these stout little beasts in the flesh.

Of course, some people are more clued up than others about how to wend their way through the countryside without leaving the indelible footprint of mankind behind, whether it’s picking up any rubbish, putting fires out thoroughly or keeping dogs under control and firmly on leads where necessary.

This latter point is particularly important when encountering the hardy ponies that roam both Dartmoor and Exmoor freely. Only last week a dog was seen near Burrator Reservoir on Dartmoor attacking a mare and foal, which resulted in both dog and foal being put down.

Such incidents are easily avoidable, if just a little bit of care is taken. Alona Stratton, breeder of registered Dartmoor ponies and former council member with the Dartmoor Pony Society, has advised tourists coming to the area that it is best not to disturb the horses and avoid approaching them.

“Leave them be,” she says. “Don’t try to feed or stroke them. By doing so you encourage them to go nearer to the roads. Keeping dogs on leads and under control is also important. Respect the ponies’ space and they’ll respect yours.”

The Dartmoor National Park Authority is also working to tackle the problem of dogs on the moors, launching new campaign Paws on Dartmoor in response to the increasing numbers of incidents involving uncontrolled dogs and livestock.

Between June 8th and 10th, a range of activities for dog-owners is being put on at Roborough Common to promote responsible access to the area, with professional trainers on hand to provide obedience tips, National Park rangers leading free guided walks and the Dartmoor livestock protection officer also offering advice and assistance.

So if you’re going to any Two Moors Festival events this year, please make sure you keep your dog well under control and show the ponies on Exmoor and Dartmoor the respect they deserve.

Should dogs be kept on the lead at all times when out walking or can they ever be well-trained enough to be let off?