Getting Wet Feet on Dartmoor

Dartmoor National Park

by David Gibbeson

I went to Dartmoor at the weekend for an afternoon of photography and to capture a sunset if the light was favourable. I took my eldest son who was collecting ideas for his art projects. We started off at Foggintor Quarry and planned to head up to Great Mis Tor or Staple Tor. The cloud was creating plenty of mood on the moor; there was an abundance of god rays for a little while. I took the shot above from the huge granite ledge that extends towards King’s Tor. I love how the god rays were all pointing towards the tor, which was dominating the horizon.

The wind was quite bitter and it was great to finally get a bit of shelter while wandering around the disused Foggintor Quarry. After spending time photographing the quarry the afternoon light began to illuminate the rock face prompting us to think about heading up one of the tors for sunset.


The sun reflected off of the rocks at Foggintor Quarry

The sun reflected off of the rocks at Foggintor Quarry.


I was in trouble as soon as my foot touched the surface

We began to carefully make our way out of the south end of the quarry when we came to the narrow channel. It looked a bit damp, but didn’t look like the usual boggy stuff so I headed forward, camera in hand. I knew I was in trouble as soon as my foot touched the surface; having committed my body weight, my foot sank up to my knee so fast that I took a step forward with my other leg to support myself. This would have been OK, except my right leg sunk up to my thigh! I tried to pull my foot out and before I knew it I was thigh deep in the bog, while just avoiding chilling my precious parts.

Thankfully my son who was following behind only got wet feet. After the initial shock I was quite reassure to feel solid ground under my feet, despite it being a few feet lower than I was expecting.


My main concern was my camera gear

At this point like any true photographer, my main concern was my full camera bag on my back, along with my Canon 5D Mark 2 and Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS which was in my hand and around my neck. I managed to put my camera in my other hand and grab a large handful of moorland grass to use for a little leverage to allow me to lift one foot out enough to take another step, where thankfully the bog wasn’t as deep. I got out and sent my son the long way around.


Freezing cold and aware of the amazing light developing over the moor

I was now freezing cold and fully aware of the amazing light developing over the moor. All the while, in the knowledge that I would have to get dry before even thinking about taking more photos. I began the walk back to the car which seemed to take an eternity while getting the odd funny look as I squelched along the path from Foggintor to the main road. I am glad I take the moor seriously and always prepare for all manner of emergencies. With spare clothes, footwear and towels, we were soon warm and dry again and rushing to Staple Tor to try to catch the sunset.

It was a great lesson to my son; demonstrating just how the moor can catch you out if you take your eye off of the ball. If you visit Dartmoor you should be prepared and take the environment seriously.


Dartmoor national park moody landscape

The moor looked moody from Foggintor Quarry.


Stomping up to Great Staple Tor

Having decided the flask of hot chocolate would have to wait, my son and I stomped up to Great Staple Tor. We did this at a high pace, which left me feeling each and every one of my 41 years. We got to the top just as the sun was approaching the horizon. The golden hour wasn’t amazing; I think we missed the best of it as we rushed up the tor but the blue hour was beautiful.


Great Staple Tor during twilight

The Great Staple Tor rocks silhouetted against the twilight sky looked beautiful.

As the sun faded and we took pictures it made the outing totally worthwhile; wet feet and all.

In other news, you may have noticed that I have changed web address for this website. I felt that it belonged on a domain of my name as a part of building my personal brand as a photographer. Please update your bookmarks and links to my website.


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