A winterbourne pool, Top Tor

Top Tor Tarn
Top Tor Tarn

I remember attending a talk a couple of years ago by the renowned landscape photographer Jem Southam, where he talked about his book The River Winter. He mentioned how the beautiful word ‘winterbourne’ originally referred to a river or stream that runs only in winter, and is generally dry in the summer months. The talk made me think also of some of the smaller tarns in the Lake District, and especially the small ponds I frequently encounter on Dartmoor, almost always un-named; they come and they go.

Top Tor Tarn
Top Tor Tarn

I found another of these last week on the path to Top Tor. It reminded me of one I photographed a few years ago on Hameldown and another from a few years before that on the high ground near Ugborough Beacon. After a particularly wet winter we now enter spring with probably more of these than usual. I find them absolutely gorgeous: they light up the landscape with an intense blend of sapphire shades and green algae that almost glows. In the right light, of course – and last week’s glorious spring mornings presented them at their best.

They won’t last too long unless the heavy rain returns, but I’ll continue to enjoy them as long as I can.



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