The day before the off we went into Chagford to buy some wine for some of our hosts further along the ride. We were chatting with the shop keeper about the bottles being presents and why, and he told us that there was a new newspaper called The Moorlander, with its offices just above his shop.
So we went to find the Editor, who was very interested in our Journey and came the next day to take photos of us starting off. Unlike the day before which started in thick mist, today was a lovely day with wonderful views. So the moorland morning was enjoyed by humans and ponies and the photographs should be beautiful when they arrive.
Crossing the moor was a privilege as always to be riding in this astonishing landscape showing its many changes in character as we progressed from near Chagford to Christow, close to Dartmoor’s eastern edge. All went well in the morning with a mixture of ancient trods and ways on the moor, with well worn holloways and sheltered lanes. Always there was the feeling of riding in the hoofsteps of centuries of our predecessors who would have taken these ways to go about their daily business; hence the need for repair of the peat tracks with stone slabs – trods – and the deepening of the holloways.
The afternoon was a ‘challenge’ with one of the classic obstructions – an impassable ford, which needed a jump in and included a granite boulder which you had to land on at an angle! Why don’t they have these things in the Badminton course? The summer floods with rivers in full spate are shifting even huge boulders about as well as felling trees – we found several paths through the Lustleigh Woods blocked. This meant we had to go round by a byway but when looking at the map to find a way to cut two sides of a triangle of roads off, we noticed that there was a sign by the gate where we were standing: The Woodland Trust had provided a permissive bridleway doing just that. Hurrah for The Woodland Trust. The way was very much appreciated and we hastened down it with great relief.
Thus our journey was much longer than planned so we ended up at Christow with two tired ponies and humans as well. But it was a good start to the adventure.