I’d only ever driven through Dartmoor as a kid. Remembering then my feelings of awe and wonder at seeing the wild ponies and endless horizons.
I always knew it was a place I wanted to return to, I just didn’t know when or how, and in all honesty if it was a place I was even allowed to go.
Dark stories, untamed landscapes and a sense of the inhospitable circling in my unconscious from various books, films and cultural references. Dartmoor for sure was a place very unfamiliar to me, that was until last April.
April 2021: We are in-between lock-downs, and everyone’s dreams, energy and horizons are - to some degree - contracted. Josh and Cormac as The Living Project invite me on a Wild24 on Dartmoor. I didn’t need to think twice and found myself counting down the days until I could be on The Moors.
It was a beautiful warm blue skied Spring Day, one of those days which feels full of promise.
I remember the air being warm and when I closed my eyes hearing nothing but the breath of the wind. When I opened my eyes the horizon seemed to stretch on forever, and I had a sense of myself in the landscape for the first time - not separate from it. By placing myself here I had become part of its story.
As we moved through our journey together on Dartmoor, I felt more and more at ease with myself and the landscape. I found myself with my face pressed against lichen on rocks, lovingly touching moss on trees and sticking my tongue out to taste the air. I remember not wanting to leave the bosom of the forest where we’d slept peacefully next to the stream.
How could a place which I’d spent a lifetime feeling uninvited to so quickly feel like home?
For me the answer is simply this - it was always home. Like many things in life, it was the stories I had absorbed and created - like layers of an onion - which made it feel like anything other than home. Spending time on Dartmoor was like peeling off the layers, stripping back. Something which rippled into the days, weeks and months that followed. In many ways for me, it stirred the primordial pot.
What I didn’t know at the time, was that
less than a year later I’d be back in Dartmoor, but this time as part of The Living Project. I can’t think of a better example in my life of how the new horizons of Dartmoor in April 2021 have led to new horizons in every sense of the word for me.
A few of our adventures will be up on Dartmoor this year, I’m so honoured and excited to share this very special wild welcoming place with others.
A place which so many people have called home for thousands of years, and a place which I hope many of us will call home for thousands more…