A day of outdoor anniversaries

April 24th is a day of anniversaries.  On this day in 1965 I first visited Dartmoor and Hillbridge Farm which still mean so much to me.  On the same day the Pennine Way was opened (but, a ten-year-old, I was unaware of it at the time), and in 1932 it was the Kinder Trespass.  Six years ago it was Rozel Lawlor’s funeral, a poignant and hauntingly beautiful day when I said goodbye to a friend with whom I shared Dartmoor walks and a love of birds.

So it was especially good that I was at Hillbridge on 24 April this year, and was up early for a walk.  The first bird I saw, looking out of the bedroom window at the adjacent magnolia, was a pied flycatcher, gathering food before flitting into the oakwood which is next to the colourful garden.  I had seen him the day before and was thrilled that he was still about.

15 magnolia


16 garden

Hillbridge garden








I walked down to the River Tavy where a dipper sped upstream, then across fields known as Coffins through Wapsworthy.  It was here, at the top of the bridleway close to the moor gate, that I heard then saw my first redstart of the year.  A moment later there was a loud cuckoo behind me and I swung round to see the bird perch at the top of a nearby tree.

8 redstart


9 Wapsworthy cuckoo spot

Where the cuckoo perched, on the bridleway from Wapsworthy








I climbed to the top of White Tor, reaching it by 7.30; there was low cloud but still a fine view towards Great Mis Tor.

10 White Tor

From White Tor to Great Mis Tor

Then I walked down to Stephen’s Grave and Twist where, as I had hoped, I saw another redstart (I have seen them here before).  By the time I reached Cudlipptown the sun was coming out.

11 Twist

Near Twist, above Cudlipptown, with Gibbet Hill beyond

After descending through lush fields I came to the sparkling Tavy at Horndon Clam. Common Wood is on the left as one looks upstream.

12 Horndon Clam

Looking upstream from Horndon Clam

It was a scramble to get along the river at the bottom of Common Wood, with grey wagtails flickering on the rocks.  As I walked up from the river towards the leat and home I saw another cuckoo in the trees.

And so, once again, 24 April was memorable, for a spectacular walk and exciting birds, in a very special place.

17 Common Wood

Common Wood



About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in Birds, Dartmoor, Memories and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A day of outdoor anniversaries

  1. ossjay says:

    You have a world of wonderful names there.

  2. I’m hoping to finally get down and start exploring Dartmoor this summer, feeling inspired by your recent photos. 🙂

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