One day I must visit Grimspound on a fine, sunny day. The last time I was there, in March 2013, it was ice cold, all around covered in frost, and the light was a cool blue. Last week’s outing wasn’t meant to be a trip to Grimspound at all. I’d planned to walk along one of Dartmoor’s river valleys, but the forecast had gone from bad (drizzle and fog) to worse (constant driving rain) and I didn’t have a lot of time, so the bronze age hut circle seemed a good option, being easily accessible from the roadside. I set off early enough to avoid the worst of the rain, in theory, but in practice the dense mist was joined by drizzle by the time I’d parked the car. The morning was a precursor of the next full week’s seemingly endless mizzly weather.
I wanted to achieve something worthwhile from the experience, and asked myself what I felt out there with blanket mist smothering almost all visibility. This could not have been more different from the crystal-clear views of March 2013. From the main entrance to the circle below Hameldown I could see only one of the twenty four stone huts; and from any stone hut I could perhaps make out only a couple more in the whole four acre pound.
I had the place to myself (well Penny, our Cocker Spaniel, was with me as usual) and so set about trying to capture something of the spirit of this wonderful place in conditions that might seriously trouble someone less familiar with this part of the moor.
In post-processing these images I’ve purposely kept the contrast range restricted to what was visible on the day so as not to over-dramatise anything. The photographs are as sharp as they need to be in soft light (i.e. not too sharp) and with this subtlety I hope to encourage viewers to view the images at full size, peer into the distance and attempt to see what details are there (very few). The vaguest pale outline of another hut, perhaps, or a hint of a wall bending through the mist; the base of a hill, or the sudden recognition of a granite stack you hadn’t initially noticed.
The Highland cattle were present at the beginning of the walk (just up from the road), in the middle of the walk (at the top of Hookney Tor), and at the end of the walk, when I found a group of 4 had encircled the car! Wonderful beasts, but a little stubborn when you’re soaked and just want to lever open the car boot and grab a towel for a drenched spaniel! I eventually sat in the driver’s seat, genuinely surprised at how saturated I was: I hadn’t noticed!
Here’s a link to my Flickr site for those who want to view my March 2013 images: Grimspound, March 2013