As all wise people know, the old adage “April showers’ no longer rings true in these changing times.

I recently bought myself a nice motorcycle and now intend to use it over the course of this closing  weekend of April I have a few missions on my list to complete.

Looking 8 Miles south to Plymouth

There is one main road in and out of Dartmoor from Plymouth-the Princetown road and it cuts past some under-viewed Villages where rural English life goes on unobserved and undisturbed.

Sampford Copse

The roads vary from tarmac’d Tractor and a half, to just a car wide to unpaved sheep trails deeply rutted into the country side and flanked by steep and sturdy Bank Hedges of Granite and earth, sewn with trees, some of them many hundreds of years old Oak and Beech.

'Kong' Tor

I did make an exploratory expedition to find a Tor (Granite rock outcrop on hilltop) the I could not locate on a map after a week-long hiking and map reading trip, my eyes and navigation skills were just burned out, so with rain looming I wrote “Kong Tor” on the map after seeing the Tor really needed a damsel lashing to it and a huge ape to come glomping out of nowhere… fatigue has quite a pleasant effect sometimes 🙂
I had an hour tops before the heavens opened up. So I bolted on the bike and did a ‘getting lost fast recce’ of about 7-8 miles of mixed road, covered path and sheep ruts, seeing some magnificent lanes and trails… I took a few snaps to bait myself with for a planned, weather checked shoot. I found this gem of a hill-top Church over Walkhampton.

Walkhampton St Marys. Dartmoor. Devon. England

Just one look at this close up and I can tell from my Stonemasonry and Architecture studies and I can this 15th C Church is a fine example of the ‘Vernacular’ style of high Polygonal Crocketed Pinnacles called Plymstock after the Masons who built much of the Churches all over Dartmoor. Of course the light is hardly favourable for an ideal ‘Jolly Summer’ shot, the atmosphere dry as a bone, like before a summer storm hence the rays of sunbeams did not cut a biblical array through the clouds. Thankfully all the trees and grass were newly green in spring just three days earlier and were rich in verdancy and dark in hue. I resolved to come back and shoot this another planned day.
To the trained or sometimes even to the curious eye this entire area is rich in tell-tale signs of human endeavour and even pioneering workmanship from the bronze age and most evidently right into the 20th C, just these lanes alone are monumental of a pastoral culture gone and where was once many a family of working country folk, only Sheep and Manor houses remain as testament to the graft and tranquility of the Serf and Lord landscape of rural England.
This is Sampford Spinney, still a manor house, taken on St Georges day, while I laid on the Village Green under the shadow of a hand cut granite Village Cross and supped water from the open stream trickling by…

Sampford Spinney Village Green

The long-gone serenity of the rural English Village with Lord of the Manor in residence. His rule extending to local Civil strata, the Landowner, The Land-Lord. To the Military, the Officer class, the legal class, the Aristocrat. Hunting, shooting fishing, the English Squire, the country Gentry.

Sampford Spinney Manor

The charm of the Schoolhouse a picture of calm and order with innocent and content children, mothers busy at the industrious home while the men toil in the fields all day long looking forward to a few pints of Ale with the chaps in the evening. Such scenes are still a living memory for many of us.

Sampford Spinney School House

In this page I will attempt to pen a paen to Olde England and its rich tapestry so rudely interrupted by the clang and clamour of industrialized agriculture.