|Bell over the main gate at Dartmoor Prison|
Dartmoor is a national park in the far south west of England, Until last Monday it was an area that I had never explored.
Before leaving the university in Exeter last Monday morning I had mapped a ten mile walk I planned to undertake after visiting Princetown which is the location of the infamous Dartmoor Prison. This grim granite edifice was built in the early years of the nineteenth century - mostly to house American prisoners from The Forgotten War. It is still in use today.
I didn't begin my circular walk till half past two in the afternoon - parking in the hamlet of Jurston before looping up on to the moor itself. The highlight of this walk was discovering the stone row on Hurston Ridge. It runs for 143 metres and consists of two lines of ancient stones leading to the site of a cairn. There are ninety nine stones in total and it is very likely that the arrangement is over 4000 years old - first constructed when Dartmoor was probably forested.
Nobody knows for sure what the stone row was all about but one compelling argument suggests that it was to do with procession and the ritualistic honouring of ancestors. There are numerous other very ancient sites on Dartmoor as well as more recent tin mine workings.
If you lived down there, so many walking adventures would be possible - preferably in clement weather - but the paths are not as well signposted as in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. You would need to have your wits about you.
I just got a taste of Dartmoor - not the full menu - but it was delightful to be out there plodding through unfamiliar country and that haunting stone row will live long in my memory.
|Dartmoor Prison seen from afar|
|High Jurston Farm - where I parked before my walk|
|The stone row on Hurston Ridge|