With international travel off the cards, I was keen to make the most of my time-off with a summer staycation a little closer to home. Forever chasing an adventure in the great outdoors my partner and I settled on a country camping trip to Devon. Escaping on to the mist-covered tors of Dartmoor National Park, we were able to meet again with friends we hadn’t seen for months due to lockdown in different parts of the UK.
Though we have visited many times before, the natural beauty of the landscape never grows old and in truth has never been more appreciated after almost five months cooped up indoors. With the weather set to be fair mixed with showers, we risked erecting our tipi tent from Go Outdoors and settled down beneath a galaxy of distant starts, glittering across the open night skies.
Having spent the majority of the last few months primarily indoors, it was a great relief to escape into the outdoors and roam free across the heightened grass and rocky paths, traipsing merrily through the drifting mist and drizzle, refreshed by the elements and great open expanse. There are a multitude of paths and way-marked routes suited to any agility, however, I find that straying a little off the beaten path often offers the most reward.
Whether it involves following hidden waterways past ancient remains of tin mines, or clambering across boulders under lichen covered branches, I am often at my happiest when at one with the natural landscape. It also aids my mental health, finding it easy to forget about those everyday worries when I’m focused solely on the brisk air, slanting rain or whistling wind. Used to journeying through idyllic focal points like the Postbridge clapper bridge packed with tourists in the better weather, I’m pleased to report that it was in fact eerily quiet when we passed, with plenty of room to socially distance, particularly come the early evening.
Dartmoor to me is like a warm friend, always there, waiting, until you’re ready for that escape, no matter how long it’s been since you last visited: it’s features are familiar, but it’s climate ever-changing. Camping under the clear night skies can prove comforting and dramatic. On a humid day, sun splitting the skies, the terrain can be exhausting, but the scenery is bliss, barely a sound to be heard for miles. Despite this image, within a few short hours, the clouds can fall, shrouding the tors in thick mist, those same skies can open, bringing heavy downpours, the sudden change in climate causing thunder to rumble across the hills and lightning strikes like a phantom menace.
If you can accept the prospect of changeable weather and let’s face it, likely wet and mucky boots, then there really is no other place quite like it. Filled with whimsy, wander, walking and wildlife, if you’re after some fresh air, or a change of scene from the city, then I can highly recommend a journey down to this Devonshire sanctuary, because the natural beauty of Dartmoor is just one of the other-worldly wonders that makes the South West best.