I was lucky enough to receive this 2 person Vonshef wicker picnic hamper in the post some weeks ago, but pretty much every time Tom and I packed up with our best homemade grub, the heavens opened and we ended up eating our picnic in the car more than once!
But last weekend, we headed down to Cornwall for my school chum’s wedding and on the way, we thought we’d give it one more try. I’ll admit that when we set off in the direction of Dartmoor it wasn’t looking promising – the clouds overhead were distinctly grey.
The Dartmoor landscape couldn’t be more different to the rolling hills of the Cotswolds. There’s a reason why it’s been the home of an active prison since 1805; the prison’s granite walls, built originally to house prisoners of war during the Napoleonic years, dominate the rugged landscape. To match exposed granite tors (rock formations) command the horizon and the moors stretch into wilderness – it would be quite hard for an inmate to make a speedy escape across the national park.
On the higher moor, the wind whips across the land without a single tree to block its path – I felt that we’d stumble across Dicken’s Magwitch huddled under bracken. You can understand why the Dartmoor ponies favour a thicker coat as they wander freely across the moors. Famously, Dartmoor was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock adventure, ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.
We headed for the centre of Dartmoor and the tiny hamlet of Postbridge, famous for the 700-year-old bridge that crosses the East Dart, a tributary of the River Dart. Known as a clapper bridge, it is believed to have been built in 13th century to enable pack horses to cross the river carrying tin to the stannary town of Tavistock. The bridge still stands complete, despite the centuries of feet marching across it. Dartmoor does feel like an ancient place.
We settled on the river bank, picnic blanket outstretched. Tom and I managed to snag the 20 minutes of dry weather of the whole day and also before an entire coachload of German tourists swarmed the area.