…..crunching along the rocky path to the mysterious Wistman’s wood, the intrigue of the ancient forest morphed into sheer enchantment. A carpet of snowy moss-coated boulders, crowned with snow-laden boughs of twisted oak, draped with locks of snow-clad lichen, unveiled afore us.
How lucky we were to experience anew the surreal beauty of this wintry wilderness swathed in white and nestled within the river valley, illuminated by the reflection of the crisp morning sun, yet permanently in the shadow of the tors that surround….and how lucky are we to access this seemingly inaccessible landscape, where silence eerily permeates, yet peacefully falls, within a thicket of knarled and knotted woodland; shelter to a myriad of symbiotic plants that cling for survival like the wandering souls apparently lost within.
“If we do not know, see and experience Nature,
How can we love her?
And if we do not love Nature, How can we protect her?” (unknown)
…..many afore have fallen victim to the romance of Dartmoor with its wild intrigue and mysterious charms. Dartmoor’s diverse history has attracted a noble and eclectic mix of painters and writers ; they include Hemery, Crossing, Phillpotts, Conan-Doyle, Widgery (father and son), Sherrrin, Brittan, and interestingly, an eminent former landowner and resident, Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt.
Tyrwhitt was born in 1762, and moved to Dartmoor from London, after an eminent official career, and a knighthood. He was attracted to Dartmoor, as a remote and intriguing wilderness, and chose to build his home in a tiny hamlet, which he named Princetown, attributing to his close friend the Prince of Wales (later George 1V).
Tyrwhitt had a vision to transform the town into an industrial hub in the centre of Dartmoor, and generate profit from the rich natural resources of the moor. He committed his entire wealth, over many years, in an attempt to stimulate industry on the moor, fervently believing industrialisation to be a means of populating and regenerating the moor for its own long-term survival. Conversely, although a pragmatist and highly respected entrepreneur, he was a also a philanthropist, and ultimately driven by passion and a love for the moor, he pursued this goal relentlessly, despite insurmountable evidence of reduced monetary reward due to the harsh logistics of working in remote locations and extreme climate. He was to die a disillusioned man; his fortune spent. Eden Phillpotts stated in “The American Prisoner”……..”Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt loved the moor like a mistress. To her faults he was blind”. The connotation is that he had succumbed to a weakness of character.
In my view, without any inference of control or discrimination between sexes, and apart from any notion of weakness….the moor is its own master (or mistress…whichever you prefer ). Dartmoor will always be wild, unpredictable and untamed, and long may it remain so. We, as do so many others, love it that way!
Love Dartmoor x