I have recently been walking once a week with friends on the moors of Bodmin moor and Dartmoor. It is a great way to exercise and I have seen some wonderful views. One of the best things is that it has really increased my enjoyment of winter weather. On the moors the wind and rain are elemental forces, and if you have the right equipment it is all the better when the light races across the moors or weather envelopes you in cloud, to suddenly be released to a huge vista of valleys and moors.
We try to hit ten miles. It feels like a lot to me. Sometimes we do more and my legs are like jelly from all the inclines. Out on the moor history is laid out for you. From early days of Britain to the industrial age there are tactile reminders and ghosts in the fabric. An old well, a circle of stones, the remains of a train track, a boundary marker, a bridge that has seen a thousand years of traffic.
There is a lot of wet ground, and I am often over my ankles in bog. The grasses are tough and can lie in ankle twisting hummocks. Crossing from one tor to another invariably means an energy sapping route through tough terrain. Rivers are usually passable with a leap of faith, or a nervous hop from boulder to boulder. There are many impassable routes in winter, after a mile or so of high stepping you might find a low valley is just too much bog, and a long walk around the contour line must be attempted.
High on the moors are few trees- those that remain are tough old blackthorns or oaks, stunted and gnarled, ancient and slow growing. This tree has a nest deep in the branches about 6 foot above the ground.
A few ancient forests of old english oak remain. Growing slowly among the tumbled clint they live in harmony with ancient mosses. a verdant mass of tangled branches. The moss is softer than you can imagine. You might sleep forever if you lay down and rest.