Tuesday, April 3, 2012

D is for Dartmoor in Devon, England (Ghosts, Headless Horsemen and Two Terrified Boys)

My family and I lived in London for ten years.  During that time, we loved to take weekend trips all over the country, and some of our favorites were great places to walk, after being in the city all week. 

This particular weekend, we chose Dartmoor, a wild and beautifully barren and desolate place in Devon that has more ghost stories than one could remember in a lifetime.  It is said to be full of pixies, a headless horseman, a mysterious pack of spectral hounds, ala Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Hounds of the Baskervilles novel.

We set out one weekend to visit the moors with our youngest son, Brian, and his best friend, Brett, both of whom were ten years old.  By the time we reached Dartmoor, they had scared themselves silly reading ghost stories of the moor. 

We reached our inn just before dark with the requisite fog beginning to swirl around the headlights.  After settling in our rooms, the four of us met up for dinner in the cosy dining room.  A cheery fire blazed as if to ward off anything wicked that could be afoot in the misty countryside.

The ghost stories continued all through dinner.  The boys were besotted with ghosts, goblins and supernatural goings-on.   We could not get them off the topic! 

After dessert of warm cherry cobbler, my husband said, "Hey, boys, want to take a walk on the moors?"

I thought he'd lost his mind and, if I'm not mistaken, said so...

Of course the boys were out of their minds with anticipation, so with a "torch" borrowed from the front desk, off they went.  I went into the sitting room to fret.

An English gentleman evidently had heard the whole exchange at dinner and very politely said to me, "Don't worry, Madam.  This kind of experience is good for the lads.  Toughens them up."

"Right," I thought to myself, after murmuring something like, "Thank you. I'm sure that's true."
Wild Dartmoor Ponies

Within half an hour, back they came, all smiles and seemingly not worried at all about "things that go bump in the night." 
"Wow, that was so cool," and "we weren't scared at all," the guys said, as they snagged a coke from the barman.

"So," I asked my husband, "what happened?"

He chuckled and said they had a great time scaring each other and themselves.  Seemed there was a tall brick wall running the length of the property (which I hadn't seen).  My husband never left that area and could see the wall at all times.  The boys, of course, were oblivious and thought they had to be lost on the moors!  How delicious!  What an adventure!

To this day, both "boys" talk about their walk on the moors.  Of course, now they know they were never lost.  But they still remember the warm cherry cobbler, those old goosebumpy, chills down their spines, and thoughts of dogs from nowhere, quicksand and goblins.

My husband and the English gentleman were right after all.  Who knew?



  1. Hi Nancy,
    thanks for your memories of England.
    The picture of the moor ponies reminded me of the time my husband and our son and daughter were camping in the New Forest where the ponys run ree. We were awakened by a pony rubbing its backside against the trailer. We were startled at first and then had to laugh.

  2. Hi, Barbara,

    Thanks for your comment. It made me laugh, too. So cute and memorable.

  3. Now that's funny! Your husband is not only quite nice. He's also very clever and resourceful.

  4. What a wonderful memory. Why didn't you go with them? I would have been so curious. Good to meet you on the challenge.