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Published: October 13th 2021
Ancient moss covered oak trees and boulders.
As is usual with these photography workshops, it was an early 6.30am start for the sunrise - but at least the October sunrises are not too antisocial. We drove to Combestone Tor, but it was too foggy for any photographs, so we decided to return to the hotel and walk to the nearby Wistman's Woods, which are apparently the place to go when it is foggy.
It was almost completely the same walk that I had done the day before to the then unnamed tor, although this time we were navigating in the dark.
Sadly, when we got there the fog had started to clear, but the woods were still great to photograph. These woods are apparently very well known and there were a few other photographers there. There are a lot of extremely old ancient oak trees all intertwined and covered in moss, set amongst large boulders, also covered in thick moss.
We explored the woods for a while, looking for interesting trees to take some photos of, and then headed back to the hotel for breakfast. I declined the full Dartmoor breakfast and went for the lighter smoked salmon and scrambled egg instead.
went back to Combestone Tor. The fog had cleared, but the sky still wasn't particularly photogenic. The conditions were more suitable for pictures of the Hawthorne trees that were dotted around - each looking very lonely and windswept. Apparently they make really good black and white or infrared photographs.
There were some wild horses in the car park, so I tried a repeat of the deer selfie from Rannoch Moor (see Head-butted During a Dear Selfie
) with a horse selfie - the other photographers were appalled.
Next we headed to Blackadon Nature Reserve, where there are some great pictures to be had of the stream and bridge, which can actually make better photographs when there is overcast weather. This meant going on some even narrower single-track roads, which got very stressful when two queues of traffic met with no where to pass. Apparently the convention is that those that would reverse down-hill do the reversing - which was not the way that the very angry lady Audi driver coming in the other direction saw it.
There was also an element of the biggest car prevails and our minibus is about as big as it is possible to get on these roads.
Nun's Croft Farm House
Photographers watch out for the mine shafts.
We stopped at the nature reserve for our packed lunches, which we had collected from the hotel earlier. When I ordered breakfast, I forgot I had pre-ordered smoked salmon sandwiches for my lunch.
Our next location was Nun's Croft Farm House, which is probably the Dartmoor equivalent of Rannoch Moor's Blackrock Cottage (see The Most Photographed House in Scotland
). It's currently used by a school as a base for adventure training, but is famous (locally at least) for the story of the farmer's wife who disappeared when she went out to feed the cattle and was never seen again.
Since our photography lead had last been here, the health and safety people had clearly been round and had planted a load of photograph spoiling signs - "Fire assembly point", "Designated smoking area" and "Unmarked mine-shafts". The latter may shed some light on the disappearing farmer's wife story. Either that or because of a certain hound that Dartmoor is famous for?
Finally, we went to the church of St Michael de Rupe in Brentor for the sunset. This involved a climb up the steep hill and then all planting our tripods on the narrow ridge overlooking the church which is perched right
Failed sunset at the church of St Michael de Rupe in Brentor.
on top of the hill, trying to avoid the sheer drops on both sides. Apparently the church and hill look stunning when lit from the side by the golden setting sun. Sadly, that didn't happen.
It was then back to the hotel, where I had a bath (the downside of the room was no stand-up shower) and then Ratatouille (not smoked salmon) for dinner.
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