This is Chagford, a town in the far southwest of England. It is a tourist center for Dartmoor, and I have been there about a half dozen times. The most recent, in January 2002, I brought along my camera, but I didn't take many pictures.

This is the main square. The photogenic building in the middle is the market house. It houses a few small businesses and restrooms. The foggy-looking patch on the steeple is a patch of fog, it was raining and foggy that day. Although it is small, Chagford has 30-odd businesses, giving one of everything you need, with three exceptions. There are two huge hardware stores, charmingly referred to as ironmongers. These are located on the square, off the right-hand side of this picture.
   The other exceptions are lodging -- there are numerous places to stay in and around the town -- and, more to the point, four fine pubs. For all of my trips, I have stayed at the Globe Inn, which is a pub and a bed-and-breakfast. Two of the other pubs -- Bullers Arms and the Ring of Bells -- offer B&B accommodations, and the third is the Three Crowns, a hotel. On the latest trip, I did something I had long wanted to do: the Chagford pub crawl. (I had a pint of bitter in each of the pubs after dinner one night, and I am told that I was amusingly inebriated by the end.) The Globe costs about £45 a night for a couple, and the breakfast would hold you for most of the day if you didn't get any serious exercise.
   But you do get serious exercise. Other than eating and sleeping, both of which you can do well in this quiet, well-provisioned place, the reason to come here is to walk on Dartmoor. The moor sits atop a granite upthrust, with many topographies: heath, pasture, marsh, woods and rolling hills. Chagford is surrounded by the last, and this photo is taken from one of them. The bush with the yellow flowers is gorse. The "chag" in Chagford is a Saxon word for gorse, so Chagford is literally the gorse-y place where you cross the river (Teign). Lots of English place names are similarly constructed. Dartmoor, for example, is the moor crossed by the river Dart. Where the river's mouth meets the English Channel is Dartmouth, which is different from the Dartmouth in Kent, birthplace of Keith Richards. The college in New Hamshire is named after the second earl of the one in Devon, but I digress.

The previous photo was taken looking down one of the hills. This one is from roughly the same spot, looking up.
   This is the beginning of a small stretch of open moor, which in the summer can look like the moon. It was awfully red in January, though.
   Most of the people who live in this neck of the woods think it is amusing that tourists trek around the moor for hours on end, risking life and limb to experience mud. The not-so-complimentary term they use is grockle. Sometimes, when you are soaking wet inside your heavy-duty rain gear, you can see their point. So you excuse yourself by taking an artsy photo, something you might call "Barren Tree in Fog Storm":

   There are a couple of famous books associated with Dartmoor that are worth reading if you are intrigued by the area: The Hound of the Baskervilles, one of Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous Sherlock Holmes mysteries (the BBC has some background), and Lorna Doone, part of which seems to have been inspired by actual events in Chagford, although the book takes place on Exmoor, which is to the north.


 

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