How can I not love the Devon landscape?

HayTor from Ipplepen
HayTor from Ipplepen

I pass this land near Ipplepen from time to time, and always try to stop to admire it. I think it contains almost everything I love about the Devon landscape. It’s not a particularly high point, but high enough to layer a few tantalising details to enjoy.

In the distance is Dartmoor – mostly the south eastern moor, with Hay Tor, as usual, compelling the most attention thanks to its distinctive peaks, but the slightly higher Rippon Tor is left of that, and Saddle Tor lies between them. A little of the south western moor is glimpsed to the left of the foreground copse, but most is not shown in this photograph.

In the middle distance lies Denbury, and the hill at far right in the sunshine is the land on which an Iron Age hill fort was built. Its height is only 150 metres, but its distinctive shape west of Denbury village is visible for miles around (I can see it quite easily from Teignnmouth where I live). The fort would have been built around 100-300 BC, with the barrows inside pre-dating that by around 1000 years.

Between the fort and the camera lens is fine South Devon agricultural land with its well-watered grass and distinctive red soil in a patchwork of endless fields. Telegraph poles and other modern intrusions are visible, but barely register scenically, they just blend into this environment, along with the agricultural vehicles and farm buildings. Hidden from view are some of the green lanes I love to lose myself in – each with centuries of history.

In the foreground, finally, the sheeps’ wool has taken a similar colour to the red soil, and they are enjoying a plentiful supply of what appear to be the remains of last year’s large parsnips (or possibly swedes?) that have sprouted all around them.

The light here could be more dramatic earlier or later in the day, or in a different season, I suppose, and the colours more saturated. But I love this kind of light, these slightly muted colours; this is how the landscape looks much of the time. It’s not showy, or spectacular. It’s just endlessly interesting: full of stories, history – the sense of change over time. How can I not love a landscape like this?

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