20 February 2013


On Saturday, we all went to Hound Tor. Snippet had never been as it's usually busy with tourists or, in the last case, I was on my own in the fog on my way back from Brixham. You may remember the spooky pictures. It is spectacular. I was looking up the origin of the name and found this little passage about it:

The tor is an example of one of Dartmoor's 'avenue tors' as it consists of two separate rock masses which lie on a north-westerly alignment. The highest point of the tor is on the south-westerly pile which stands at 1,358ft (414m). The name was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Hundatora' and is thought to have taken its name from the animal name 'hound'. Some Dartmoor writers refer to Great Hound tor which distinguishes it from the other Hound tor on the north moor.

I don't know why it's doing that stupid highlighting thing. Very annoying and I can't get rid of it - sorry!

Rather than run the gauntlet with the crowds, we approached through a nearby piece of ancient woodland, of which there are a few pockets on Dartmoor. I found this very interesting article about the Restoring Ancient Woodland project on the BBC website:

We saw nobody in this little haven; it was a joy.

Black Witches' Butter fungus. I found this fascinating little piece about it on Flickr:

According to Celtic legend, witches were notorious milk and butter thieves. The sudden appearance of this jelly fungi marked where she had dropped or stashed some of her creamy loot. Finding this mushroom near one’s home meant the house was hexed. The only way to remove the curse was to pinprick the mushroom and drain its gel. This caused the thieving witch such pain, she was forced to appear and remove the spell. In Scandinavia, witches butter was believed to be vomit from a witch’s cat sent to a house to gorge itself on milk and food.

Out the other side and a view of Greator Rocks with Haytor Rocks beyond

And again

Here you can see climbers on the top of Hound Tor....rather them than me!

We had some tea at the 'Hound of the Basket Meals' van and then, as we were leaving, I spotted this crow who was unusually bold. I find all the crow family very shy and difficult to approach. Very sensible of them really. As I photographed it, I was mobbed by some sheep who seemed to think I had something for them!

On Sunday, we struck out in pursuit of the spawn to be rescued. I managed to find the very remote blob which had expended to two blobs, and Origami Boy and his friend scooped it up and relocated it in the marsh which never dries out and has good areas of water and food. I'll be checking on it periodically from now on. Some of the collection may have been a bit over-zealous, but in the face of certain death, any chance of survival was preferable and I don't wish to quash their youthful enthusiasm for nature!

Last Thursday, I had my shoulder operation at last. A rather painful injection of saline into the joint which is supposed to free up the stickiness of the frozen shoulder. It has certainly helped a bit; I can get my arm above shoulder level now, which I couldn't before. It was never going to be a cure but it has certainly been beneficial and didn't involve the general anesthetic that the one I cancelled last year necessitated.  All done in twenty minutes! I'll leave you with Snippet at Hound Tor....I've taken the scissors to his head so he can see. However, he does look a bit poodle-like as a result. It will have grown back in a few weeks. Until next time....


  1. Ah Em I always so enjoy looking at your photos. Tell Snippet his new hair-do is very handsome and suits him. CT x

  2. I hope Snippet is enjoying the new view. He certainly looks happy enough..

    Fantastic pictures Em. The woodland shots are quite familiar, especially all the moss! Not so many rocks in the ground here though. I daren't go and look for Black Witches butter.

  3. That one sheep looked as if had been flirting. The boys must have had fun, Em, along with Snippet. Love the rocks and the Witch's Butter.

  4. I agree great photos especially as there were no close ups of the frogs spawn (shudders!!)

    Intersting about the Witch's Butter I have never heard of that.

    You certainly live in a stunning part of Britain.


  5. Am I the only one seeing trolls turned to stone?

    Lovely photo of Snippet, he and Billy are very alike.

  6. Another full and fascinating post, Em. I have been looking for spawn here... but no joy yet. That black fungus is extraordinary. I hope Snippet appreciates his new spring look!

  7. CT - I have told him. He gave me a withering look!

    RD - Yes - I kind of wish I hadn't read the Witches' Butter information. Snippet is very tolerant except when it comes to being brushed. NOT keen at all.

    Cindy - That sheep was getting very flirty indeed. When I'd taken the photos of the crow, I jumped out of my skin when I turned round to find its nose in the back of my knee!

    Gill - No frog spawn, just for you...

    That's less disturbing than Origami boy seeing two elephants kissing in the clouds! I do know what you mean.

    Caroline - Apparently there's a yellow version of the butter but I imagine it's a lot less interesting to look at.

  8. Ahhh, Spawn Rescue! Reminds me of the time I found a pool of rainwater half way down the eroding cliffs, full of spawn and tadpoles, and evapourating by the minute! Buckets and climbing required. Can't say I've ever been back to check it out again!
    Very interesting fungi, never heard of that before. (I actually thought it was an abandoned dog poo bag at first!)

  9. Glad we're not the only ones! Don't you hate that dog poo bag thing? As if hanging it in a tree will make leaving it okay. I haven't seen one up here for a long time but it drives me mad when I do.

  10. What is it with hanging bags of dog poo in trees and bushes? It seems to be a nationwide disease! If I can put it in a dog bin or in my own bin at home why can't they? Sorry, rant over but that and general littering drives me batty!!

    Anyway :-) I enjoyed all the photos and the witches fungus thing was fascinating. Well done to OB and pal for their valiant efforts with the frogspawn and to you for stirring their conscience.

    I hope the shoulder recovers well and Snippet looks gorgeous whatever the hairdo :-)

  11. I love the sweet faces of the sheep, I just want to hug them !
    As I do your sweet Snippet.

    Off to google what a Tor is.

    cheers, parsnip

  12. I enjoyed the history lesson on the Tors and adored the photos! They would be lovely to paint!

    The Black Witches butter was interesting to say the least!

    Great day with the boys and Snippet (love the haircut).

    Such a beautiful part of the world you live in!

  13. So glad you liked the Raven! I really enjoyed doing him and glad he went to someone like you!

  14. ShySB - It makes me rant and rave too with a sense of outraged incredulity. OB very pleased with the congratulations. There was some initial reluctance!

    Parsnip - Hope your googling went well...

    Gail - I've never been confident with landscapes but I think I should give it a go - thanks for the push! Am looking at the Raven as I write this. He's beautiful.

  15. I have SO MANY happy memories of holidays on Dartmoor with Keith and I and the children at Hound Tor, and showing them the Medieval Village, and having huge icecreams from the old boy (now retired - I think his daughter has taaken over) from the Hound of the Basket Meals! He put lots of extra sprinkles on for the children too. : ) Thankyou for cheering me up on a day when, after no sleep, I feel dire . . .

  16. So sorry you had a rubbish night. It's such a horrible feeling so I'm glad I've stirred some happy memories. We didn't make it to the Medieval village that day as there were too many people there. Hope you feel better later today. x

  17. Wonderful photos especially loved the shots in the wood. Son is keen on visiting Hound Tor when we go to Dorset later in the year so I will look up your wood on the os map and try and approach it that way. Sounds as though it may be horrendously busy there!

    Great to see Origami Boy and his friend moving the frogspawn to safety :) and love Snippet's new hair cut :)

  18. The 'Tor' shots are especially fabulous and gave me goose bumps! Beautiful story book of photos! Nice to see the absence of snow in your special part of the world. It gives me hope for spring to come since our mutual latitude on the planet is not that different. :)

  19. Dartmoor's character comes out in the photos of Hound tor. The ancient woodland photos are of another world. The boys certainly had fun. Witches butter is new to me so thanks. Great post.

  20. RaggedR - That little wood Is just a tiny part of Hound Tor Wood I think. You park in the main car park and follow the lane that it sits on away and round to the left of Hound Tor. The entrance is just at the first cattle grid you get to on the right. It's very boggy in parts so I was glad I was wearing wellies rather than walking boots!

    Mark - It's a huge relief to be rid of the snow. We're now in the grip of dry sub zero temperatures and nasty north easterly winds. I hope it gets better for you soon!

    Cuby - Thank you. I'm really looking forward to seeing the tadpoles. A ot of them get eaten by newts and I don't have a polarising lens sadly so there won't be a lot of photo opportunities!

  21. Just to say that I have finally managed to get you on my blog list so can read you everytime you put a post on. Love your scruffy dog.

  22. Thanks Weaver - I've have the same problem with one person's blog who keeps disappearing off my list!

  23. Em
    I have not forgotten the dog pics... Wil take a few of the welsh terriers this week.........
    Re the Tor
    I have never seen one so UP CLOSE before!

  24. They are magnificent aren't they? I'll look forward to the pics....

  25. I recognise that child ! We must get together for a picnic & walk once the nicer weather arrives x

  26. Perhaps do an anniversary tadpole rescue over Easter if they've hatched? x


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