October Blues

This year we have had one of the longest dry periods I can remember. Autumn came in mid-Summer, as the trees started to lose their leaves and the ground is iron-hard. Not much fun for a rugby playing 16 year old. Dry pitches may make for fast rugby in South Africa (or so we were always told when I was younger); over here, you simply get skinned knees and elbows, and tackling is an effort of will! Ed finds it very frustrating.

It has been all change this weekend, and we are now getting the rain (and wind). About time to, but we need a lot more. This afternoon we took ourselves up to the Hennock reservoirs: Tottiford, Kennick and Trenchford. Built between 1861 (Tottiford) and 1907 (Trenchford) to supply water to Newton Abbott and Torquay, the three reservoirs lie on the wooded ridge between the Teign and the Wray valleys. It is easy walking, and there are never that many people about. The woodlands are mainly forestry and there is little wildlife: buzzards and, over the reservoirs, shags. We have see roe deer on the edge of the forestry but little else.

Trenchford was built following an exceptionally dry period in 1901. I am not sure how 2006 has compared to 1901, but in our visits this year, and we go up most months, we have seen the water levels in all three reservoirs drop, and all are now the lowest we have seen in the ten or so years we have been here. Tottiford, the middle one, is empty at its upper end and there is little water the dam end; Trenchford must be 25 feet down from its high water mark.

We had intended to walk the Belstone – Cosdon – White Moor stone circle – Steeperton Tor – Belstone circuit today. We last walked it late last autumn, in fog and driving rain, and had hoped that we would have better weather today. The route gives tremendous views over the wilder parts of the Northern Moor. We have been walking the Southern parts of the Moor recently and both felt that we were due a change of scenery. We should have gone yesterday. Overnight the rain came in from the South West, and we woke to day that was definitely not a day for the High Moor, even in the right clothes. So shaking off the lethargy of a late start, we drove up to the reservoirs. It went on raining and, sitting writing this three hours later, my jeans are still damp. I was told to put on waterproof trousers but knew best!

Perhaps next week.

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