The meandering thoughts of a modern-day hearth witch.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A Journey across Exmoor

Last week, B and I took a journey into the wild, with some family and friends. 

Starting from The Exmoor Centre, a camping barn to the South East of Lynton, we walked along the river, deeper into the moor.

Along the way we adults got our feet well and truly wet, tentatively tip-toeing across stepping stones, while the kids (and dog) bounded and splashed ahead.

This was our goal...

...a tumble-down cottage lying nestled into the hillside, accessible only by striding across the remote moorland. No roads lead to this memory of a dwelling; it can only be reached on foot. 

Yet this cottage is one of the few reminders that people once carved out a life for themselves on the moor. B's ancestors resided in this very shelter: a shepherd, his wife and children, totally isolated and several miles walk across moorland from the nearest small settlement.

B and his family are working hard to try and preserve this piece of fascinating social history, before it is lost forever. Their endeavours can be followed at the charity's website, Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage

While wandering, I could not help but wonder what daily life would have been like out there, in the 1800s. Cold, hard, ruthless - that is undoubted. We take so much for granted today.

Less than 200 years ago, children would have piled onto the lone family horse and trotted 5 miles or more to  reach school every day; men would have worked tirelessly in harsh physical conditions to keep a roof over their families' heads; women would have scoured and searched the moorland for wild food to supplement what they grew and raised.

 I worry that for so many young people today, who find their food in neat, clean packages in a supermarket - or worse still, delivered to them in a polystyrene box - all sense of how their ancestors lived and worked is being lost.

If you would like to learn more about this beautiful, unspoilt landscape and how you can enjoy it, visit The Exmoor Centre website. Feel free to wander over and take a gander at the Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage blog on Tumblr. There you will find lots more photographs and information about their fascinating project.

2 musings:

laoi gaul~williams /I\ said...

what a lovely walk. how interesting about the ancestors.i am always thinking of mine and what their lives would have been like and how they managed. its all part of our blood.

Jo said...

You had me completely entranced - thank you for taking us on that walk with you. I love hearing about what life would have been like in the past. My ancestors lived in a very similar cottage on Northumberland moorland which sadly is no longer there - although I have seen drawings/plans etc.

How very different our lives are today... how 'pampered' in many ways! It always makes me wonder how we would cope if life suddenly changed, became different or returned to how it was then. Would we be as resourceful, as hardworking and as industrious? Could we return to feeding and supporting ourselves once again?

Hugs xxx

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