Discovering the delights of Dartmoor – a stepping stone into nature


In early February 2012, on one of those beautiful  crisp clear winter days, an intrepid group of children and parents from Ford Primary school  in Plymouth met up with the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Education Officer, Willem Montagne. The occasion had been set up by Stepping Stones to encourage people from Plymouth to make the most of the National Park on their doorstep. In spite of the bitter cold and the frozen ground, little encouragement was needed. The valleys running into the Burrator Reservoirs were chosen as the area to explore.

Heigh Ho - Ford Primary lead up on to Dartmoor

Heigh Ho - Willem leads the way up on to Dartmoor

Up the hill, round the rocks, down the abandoned lane, passed the old mine, into the ruined farm, across the stream over the clapper bridge, through the woods, up the valley. Keep moving, keep warm, mind the ponies.  At the far end of the walk it felt as though we were on the edge of the known world. A place to appreciate the largest open space in southern England. This is where we had the picnic.

War Horse Country

Ford Primary get to enjoy the magic of War Horse Country like Steven Spielberg

The plan had been to use some Dartmoor derived coloured clays and get the whole group doing some painting with them. However the extreme cold kept the painting activity limited to a demonstration. It was clear that the children really wanted to have a go at painting with the Dartmoor earth pigments, so it was arranged to do it later as a class room exercise back at school. Gathering different coloured clays and adding a little water and glue makes the perfect colours to paint the wonders of Dartmoor with. The stark broken rock tors, the bare winter trees, the hardy Dartmoor ponies, the distant moorland hills are all rich subjects for the children to capture in painted pictures just as we saw them on that fine walk.

Earth Pigment Painting at Burrator

Earth Pigment Painting at Burrator

Having discovered the delights of Dartmoor away from roads and settlements will I am sure lead the participants to returning in future years, to have adventures of their own so they in turn can have as much fun as I have had showing a new generation what to see and what to do and how to leave no trace behind.

Do you fancy a go at  painting with earth pigments?
Then come along to Princetown on 07 May 2012 for a free family fun Day where you too will be able to play/paint with the same earth pigments.
Further details will shortly be available on the What’s On section of the website or call The High Moorland Visitor Centre on 01822 890 414

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