On Tuesday we traveled to Dartmoor National Park where the sheep roam free, the roads are narrow, the turns are blind and the speed limit is 60 kph. I’ve never been on a moor and very much felt like Jane Eyre trekking in the rain. Does it always rain on the moors? Seems to in all the movies. The landscape was quite spectacular, despite the weather.
Sheep are a common sight along the roads in the UK. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t tickled when we came across these two lovelies chomping away at the brush – doing their part to control the vegetation.
Besides trying to sharpen my psychic abilities by staring at the roadside sheep … goat … sheep … whatever … I tried to use my spidey-senses to detect on-coming traffic. I came up empty all around. Maybe it really does take a goat.
Regardless of my failures, or lack of success, we arrived safely at the Ullacombe Farm Store – my first ever visit to such a location. English farm stores are very much like American farm stores, only the folks running the place have better accents and offer lots of tasty-looking meat pies with incredible crusts and creamy, dreamy cheeses.
We decided to have a late lunch at the farm store. I regret not taking pictures of The Cheesecake Factory-sized meat pies and pasties in the display case. What was I thinking? Instead I took a picture of the pretty twinkle lights and colorful bunting hanging from the ceiling because, well, I’m a girl.
Entranced by the sight of even more bright colors, I was drawn to this line of carbonated drinks. I selected the Lemonade and Elderflower because I’ve always wondered what Elderflower tastes like.
I still don’t know what Elderflower tastes like.
Jumping back onto the twisty, winding road, we entered the charming village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Eager to explore, I headed directly for the church. You can see the bell tower in the moor pictures at the top of this post.
It had started raining in earnest while we were still in the farm shop, but the shower turned into soft droplets as I made my way into the churchyard.
Back outside in the rain, I circled around the church looking at gravestones. But age and weather had erased all markings from most of them. As I stood gazing out across the moor, the scenery was peaceful and perfect – as if nothing had changed in hundreds of years.
I intend no disrespect, but I realize these old churches are a dime-a-dozen in Europe. Despite that, they never fail to impress me. Not only have these structures survived for centuries against weather, war and hardship, they have sheltered generation upon generation from the highest born to the lowest. People come and people go. They are born, baptized, married and buried. Still the stones, pillars and stained-glass windows stand, bearing witness to every historical event, both great and small. These medieval monuments may be inanimate, but they are not without energy or heart.
Circling back around to the front of the church, the main part of the village stands quaint and relatively preserved. The Old Inn (pictured below) was apparently built by workers as a place to eat and sleep while they built the Saint Pancras Church across the road. The beams running through the pub are believed to be 700-years-old. The old stable is still fully intact and is now part of the restaurant. I believe the “newer” parts of the Inn date back 200 years.
Thanks for joining me on my journey across the moor. I definitely felt a twinge of Jane Eyre while walking in the rain – the only way to cross a moor, right?