A Reclaimed Forest At the Edge of Dartmoor #dartmoor #ancientengland

After the formal portion of the June 2018 workshop with the Silent Eye School of Consciousness had concluded, my traveling companion and I hopped into our rental car and headed toward Tavistock to continue our adventures with Sue and Stuart. Whereas they had opted to take the winding, more adventurous route through Dartmoor, we wimped out  braved the major roads.

If I could have done it over again, though, I would have taken the long way in the hope of getting a little lost, but more about that in the next post. If you visit the link to Sue and Stuart above, you will get an idea as to why.

Instead, Larissa and I had a rather uneventful drive into Tavistock. Thankfully, Larissa’s phone navigation landed us perfectly at our very remote, but incredibly charming B&B, Lee Byre, which sits on the outskirts of Dartmoor and has a perfect view of Brentor , where we would be meeting up with Sue and Stuart the following morning.

Larissa posing for a picture inside our cosy accommodation at Lee Byre

We arrived at Lee Byre through a narrow gateway of rocks (I wish I had taken a photo), whose chins jutted within inches of our compact car, and down an even more narrow hedgerow at least double the height of our vehicle.  Here we were greeted with another gateway, this one fashioned out of wood, which opened to a carpark near our lodging. Here we were greeting by the resident hens.

The resident hens were quite intent on hitching a ride with us.

I could not have envisioned a more perfect place to stay, and as I told Larissa more than once, “I could easily live there.” Even if the forest behind our cottage was haunted. The stone buildings that housed our hosts and their rental accomodations sit amidst exquisite gardens and offer, on a clear day, a wonderful glimpses into the land of Dartmoor. Breakfast is served each morning freshly prepared using local ingredients that include perfectly poached eggs from the resident hens, freshly baked bread, honey made from the bees that pollinate the lovely gardens, and homemade yogurt, jam and granola served on top of a table painted by the proprietor. Have I mentioned before I was in heaven?

Our hobo lunches were prepared for us before we set off toward Dartmoor the following day

Dinner requires a 24-hr notice, and since Larissa and I were not sure of how the day would unfold, we opted to find our own end-of-day meal. Although I like to eat on the early side, I agreed to wait awhile before venturing out again in the car, and the two of us decided we would take a wander into the forest behind our lodging.

This forest reminded us both of the Pacific Northwest, but felt like it held thousands of years of secrets

I don’t think I’ve felt a more haunted woods. The haunting effect was only heightened by the fact that it was dusk and a trail of feathers preceded our footsteps like deliberately placed breadcrumbs. The crows, it seems, were guiding our entire journey through the landscape of Albion. Although we were the only hikers in the woods that evening, I felt eyes all around me. It was difficult to tell if we were simply being observed or tested. Perhaps it was both. In these haunted landscapes, which seem to occur in abundance in England, I often feel as though I must earn my welcome.

Crow feathers followed our paths throughout our adventures in England and I should not have been surprised to find them here.

Larissa appeared less troubled than I, or perhaps she was just hiding her unease. We both remarked how we felt like Robin Hood and his Merry Men could appear at any moment around the corner. It was that kind of forest. While she delighted in the moss that “looked like tiny ferns,” I kept seeing faces in the trees and rocks.

The fern-like moss in all its emerald beauty

The only history we learned about this area we were walking in was from our hosts at Lee Byre, who told us, as they handed us a trail map, that there was an old quarry mine near the top of the hill. A not uncommon site in these parts of England.

An old mining road, perhaps

After some venturing off the trails (mostly by my urginings) to look for intriguing views and anything else that might choose to appear, we eventually landed at the abandoned quarry.

An abandoned shack at the old quarry.

The unsettled feeling continued to permeate my wanderings as we explored the long-abandoned site. Thorny bushes hugged the cement walls of the quarry remains and it was clear by looking at the old shed on the outskirts that Nature had reclaimed the site as  Her own once again.

Faces in the trees

The presence of elemental beings was undeniable, and as I walked the hilltop I wondered if the hands of man had left their mark in a way that made our presence somewhat unwelcome. Were we friend or foe in this forest that felt like it could both swallow us whole or embrace us wholly?

Larissa standing in a place where one could not help but feel small.

Larissa and I were walking as Nature’s children, but also as children of man. Here in this reclaimed wild landscape it is both easy, and difficult, to forget that we are made of Earth but have spent thousands of years trying to prove we are not. I was unsettled, but rightfully so. A guilty child looking to earn back a mother’s trust.