A very British walk on Dartmoor

Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.” Bob Marley


It’s December, It’s Britain. It’s raining.

What else is there to do when it’s drizzling continuously, blowing a hooley and the sky is a shade of grey Farrow and Ball calls ‘elephant breath’?

Well, there’s only one thing for it: stick on a coat, some sturdy walking boots and go for a yomp.

This is the strange thing about being British. We are absolutely, resolutely determined to go for a walk on a Sunday even when the weather attempts to persuade us otherwise. We are stoic in our efforts to stride across fields, amble along promenades and meander through parks.

It matters not that rain is forecast for most the day. “It’s Sunday! We must make the most of the weekend, it’s Monday tomorrow – Boo! Hiss.”

“It’s just a bit of rain”, we scoff. “Skin is waterproof”, and: “We’ll dry out soon enough”.

Yes. There’s a difference between feeling the rain and getting wet.

But where to go? Ah, Dartmoor: 368sq lovely miles of river valleys, granite tors, quaint villages and heather-coated moorland. Specifically, Buckland Beacon and the resting place of the 10 Commandment Stones.

These two huge flat slabs of granite lie at the base of the Beacon like an abandoned open book. Created in 1928, they marked Parliament’s rejection of the proposed new Book of Common Prayer. Decades of lashings by the weather meant the inscriptions became almost illegible and in 2017 they were sympathetically restored following grant funding.

I picked a well-defined path through peaty, boggy moorland from my parking place at Cold East Cross and tried not to topple over as the wind aggressively buffeted against me. Up here, at 382-metres above sea level, there are outstanding views in every direction. Today the gloopy fog and persistent drizzle put paid to the panoramas.

But it was wild, exciting, exhilarating weather; the type that whips hair around your face, glues clothes and drizzle to skin, and commands you bellow conversations to companions.

And when you’re done admiring the craftsmanship of the stones and the force of the weather you can descend back to base and the warmth of a nearby cafe or pub.

A short drive away in Bovey Tracey is Cafe 3 Sixty, an independently run cafe and wine bar. Cleverly converted from a garage it gives little nods to its past (the building’s been used for printing, metal working and carpentry), and serves a great selection of drinks, meals and snacks with good vegan options. Smiley staff welcome you and bring your order to the table. (Tip: grab the squashy leather sofas by the cosy wood-burner for maximum drying out time).

It’s December. It’s Britain. It’s raining. Life is as it should be.

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I'm a writer, journalist and communications officer based in the South West of England. I write about wellbeing, the outdoors and life in a rural playground.

4 thoughts on “A very British walk on Dartmoor

  1. Ha! Love this! I’m still drying out from my own rainy winter walk today. And trying to warm up. I love these kinds of outings. They make you feel your aliveness. Cafe 3 Sixty sounds like just the ticket after such a walk. 🙂


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