Post image for An Exmoor stroll celebrating trees

An Exmoor stroll celebrating trees

December 3, 2012 · 12 comments

Walked 6th October 2012

Distance: about three miles

Public Car Parking just above Tarr Farm Inn

Anne and I were staying at the wonderful Tarr Farm Inn in Exmoor. This has become a special place for us as it pretty much ticks all our boxes for the perfect break. The Inn is situated at the end of a little lane near Liscombe, a few miles from Dulverton. I say it’s the end of the lane but technically there is a ford across the River Barle next to the Tarr Steps which are just below the Inn. I have seen a couple of 4x4s brave the crossing but it looked precarious to me and I don’t recommend trying it.

The rooms are spacious and comfy and as well-equipped as any I have stayed in. They even give you several home-made biscuits each day and both sparkling and still water in a mini fridge with a little jug of fresh milk. And a bowl of (fairly bog standard) fruit.  The toiletries are especially good. My favourite item is a toothbrush with a tiny tube of Colgate. But the little basket has pretty well anything you need and might have forgotten to bring with you. And if you are short of the more personal items you might need you’ll probably find them discreetly located in one of the bathroom cupboards.

We give ourselves a room each and have already become institutionalised in that we ask for the same two rooms each time we go at the far end of the building and upstairs. Anne gets the nicest room because I am nice like that (it’s nicer because it looks out over the pretty valley from two sides whereas mine just has one window to the view. But the Wi-Fi is more reliable in my room I think).

And we eat in the cosy bar each night and have a favourite table for two opposite the bar. The food is excellent. I think you would call it Modern European.

Anne basically wants to stay in her room and read during the day with the occasional trip out for an afternoon.  So when Anne is reading, I usually go for a walk. Exmoor is wonderful for walking and this valley and its river is exceptionally pretty. I have seen a kingfisher on the river.

But on this day rain had meant that I had also spent most of the time since breakfast reading  Roger Deakin’s “Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees”. I can’t remember a book that has given me more pleasure or which I found more engaging.   His ability to observe and describe the detail of nature and to do so in way that consistently conjures up a strong sense of seeing through his eyes is quite extraordinary.  Each essay brings you at some point to a rich insight about trees. Sometimes he writes about a species. Sometimes about exploring woods. Sometimes about the use to which wood has been made or about people he has met who work with wood.

Towards the end of the afternoon of being immersed in this book I looked out of the window and saw that the clouds had cleared and there was the most beautiful light. There was, perhaps, only an hour or so of the day left with the sun above the horizon and I felt drawn outside by the desire to simply be outside and by the need for some fresh air. A quick look at my map showed me a path that would take me from the Tarr Steps up though Ashway Hat Wood  and up to more open fields. A wood! Of course that was where I wanted to be.  I would need to leave the path somewhere and cut through some fields to find a returning path if I were to get back to the Inn before dark but that didn’t seem too much of a challenge.

So that’s what I did.  And for most of the hour or so that I was out I was in a state of joy and delight at the sheer beauty revealed to me through the interaction between this magical, warm, last light of the day and the woods and trees I passed by. So all I am going to do now is just present my walk as series of the photographs I took without further commentary.  I hope that some of the joy reaches you.

 

River Barle glimpsed through the trees of Ashway Hat Wood, Exmoor, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Beech tree in Ashway Hat Wood, Exmoor, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Ashway Hat Wood, Exmoor, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Beech hedge grown out as a line of trees above River Barle in Exmoor, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Large Beech growing on the top of a field boundary near Ashway Hat Wood, Exmoor, Somerset, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Beech hedge grown out as a line of trees on a field boundary near Ashway Hat Wood, Exmoor, Somerset, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Several mature beeches growing on field boundary near Ashway Hat Wood, Exmoor, Somerset, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

Canopy of a mature beech growing on field boundary near Ashway Hat Wood, Exmoor, Somerset, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Several mature beeches growing on field boundary near Ashway Hat Wood, Exmoor, Somerset, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Several mature Beech growing on field boundary near Tarr Steps, Exmoor, Somerset, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Several mature beeches growing on field boundary near Ashway Hat Wood, Exmoor, Somerset, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Small wood of mostly birch at sunset near Tarr Steps, Exmoor, Somerset, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

Small wood of mostly birch at sunset near Tarr Steps, Exmoor, Somerset, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

 

 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Steer December 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Wow, certainly joy can be seen in the photographs, the light is beautiful. That area has a real sense of place, you feel the history of the landscape as you walk through it. Makes me want to go back.

Reply

Charles December 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Hi Paul
I’m glad you got the Joy. We’re going back in April, so there will be more from the area next year.

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julia December 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Roger Deakin was THE man. If I could have one last book read to me before closing eyes for good – it would be this. ‘Waterlog’ is sitting waiting for quiet time at Xmas. Would think he’d have loved these pics Charles.

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Charles December 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Hi Julia
Really pleased to find another Deakin fan. I’m not sure about reading Waterlog just beacuse I find the idea unappealing; I prefer my water hot and in a bath.That’s a lovely thought about the pics.

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Anne Wareham December 3, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Somehow your blog has to get big: these pictures really deserve a major audience. They’re uplifting. By which I mean they make me feel good. Must be making other people feel good too.. And we all need more of that.

XXXXX

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Charles December 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Thanks my love! Well I am trying to put it about, as you know. But its really pleasing that the pics make you feel good.

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Deb December 3, 2012 at 8:13 pm

You’re right, they’ve totally lifted my mood this evening. Really really beautiful :)

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Charles December 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Fabulous! Can’t have nicer feedback.

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karengimson December 3, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of Roger Deakin. So thanks for the introduction. Such thoughtful writing. Charles, your pictures are being put into my “winter armoury” to keep me cheerful and protect me from negative thoughts. Thank you.

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Charles December 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I hadn’t until recently and then as I read the book all sorts of connections were made. For instance he was a friend of George Peterken who is an expert on forests and who lives in the Wye valley and has been to look at our wood. So there I was reading about George’s study of mosses. Anyway, do yourself a favour and get a copy. And I just love the idea of my pics acting as a “winter armoury”. So thanks.

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Ruth Livingstone December 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Really love the photographs. Wonderful use of the low winter light.

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Charles December 8, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Thanks Ruth. And I really like the use you make of the panoramic format.

Reply

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)