Dartmoor Road Trip

January 30, 2016

Sheep Field

Just before Christmas I decided to go on a road trip to visit friends in Cornwall and drive through Dartmoor on the way down. 

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A good friend of mine recently moved to the Steward Community Woodland in Dartmoor and I’ve been keen to pay her a visit and learn more about living off-grid and within nature. I had my first taste of off-grid living a few years ago when I spent a week at the Lammas Community in Wales.

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The community at Steward Wood comprises a handful of couples and their children. They all play a role in contributing to the community and helping each other build their homes and tend the woodland.

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I got to assist in choosing, chopping down and moving sorrel trees for structural posts in buildings under construction and learned all about which trees are not indigenous and causing problems for the natural British woodlands.

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All of the buildings are hand built using hand and power tools with no grid provided electricity.

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The community grows their own veg and also puts in a big order every couple of months from a supplier for the kinds of things they can’t grow. The woodland is about a 20min walk into the nearest town of Moretonhampstead where I spent one night staying at the cosy White Hart Hotel before staying with My friend at the woodland.

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Even though I have used plenty “natural toilets”, their long drop took some getting used to and I’m afraid to say, I chickened out! It had been raining and I was nervous about slipping in! The view however is quiet inspiring!

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The She Pee was easier to navigate especially if you remember a headlamp when you go at night – no street lamps in the woods 😉

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Managed pathways lead to other’s homes on different levels of the woodland, each built differently and providing different types of comfort.

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I must say, having a wood burner inside your home is definitely very cosy and lovely!

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New homes are currently under construction and take a lot of planning and many hands to build. It is very hard work but ultimately deeply satisfying when you can finally live and relax in a home you built by hand. The peacefulness surrounding the community was just what I needed to soak in. No sirens, no traffic, no crowds, just nature and it’s telling silence. I took many deep breaths!

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On my way to Cornwall I decided to drive through the middle of Dartmoor National Park as I had never been before. I soon happened upon the famous clapper bridge in Postbridge. It’s quite ancient (believed to have been built in the 12th century) and wide enough for carriages to cross over. Each slab weighs tons and I loved being able to stand on something so ancient.

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I had to race the early setting winter sun which danced across the scrubby hills and valleys of Dartmoor, glistening and teasing the rain puddles along the road making for beautiful moody landscapes welcoming me further south.

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