blackdown rings

Hippos and roses – a day of two halves

by Helen on February 27, 2014

Yesterday was crisp and sparkling, so I decided to take the Newfies up to Blackdown Rings – an Iron Age Hill fort just north of Loddiswell – about 20 minutes from home.  The views from the top are stunning, you can see for miles and miles… 


 Though Ben and Daisy quickly lose interest – they’re eager to hurry along to their favourite part of this walk…  Soon after their invasion in 1066 the Normans built a motte and bailey castle on top of the old iron age earthworks and although all traces of their building have long since vanished (it would have been a wooden structure) a whole series of pits and hollows remain …..


 Which in the winter months fill with clear, fresh peaty rainwater.  THIS is what the Newfies adore.  


I think Daisy in particular has been watching too many nature programmes!  I am sure she’s pretending to be a hippo – and of course she isn’t content with swimming around once, but has to go back and do it all over again just to make sure I’m watching her!  

And yes, that is a brisk and bitter wind you can hear throughout this video – very sorry about that!  It was just a bit chilly down in the shelter of our village, but very cold indeed up on Blackdown Rings with a bitter north-westerly blowing straight from Dartmoor!  I was very pleased to return home, and begin work on the new blind for my kitchen window.  I’m redecorating, as you know, in honour of Rosie & Dan’s wedding.  My Cornishware jars look very pleased with their newly refurbished home ….

Kitchen redec well under way!

When I went into Kingsbridge to purchase header tape and blind cord for my blind, I was delighted to find 3 1/2 yards of vintage Sanderson fabric – the same that my parents had for their bedroom curtains way back in time!  And for just £5!  So I snapped it up – it works brilliantly with my pink gingham ….

Kitchen redec well under way!

I’m using it for a trim down the sides – and also for the lining – my blind will look just as pretty from the outside as in.  It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll be sure to show you when it’s done.

Kitchen redec well under way!

Perfect to show off on Rosie’s wedding day!



A walk round Blackdown Rings

by Helen on May 2, 2012

Today .. finally .. after days and days of rain .. the sun shone and it has been warm!  So I put my stippling to one side, bunnies and all(!), and called to Ben for a walk as we both badly needed some fresh air after being stuck inside all weekend.  And the best place for fresh air today (the tides were all wrong to visit the beach) was Blackdown Rings ….

Blackdown Rings

Lots and lots of fresh air – and amazing views too.  Blackdown Rings is an old Iron Age hill fort about 4 miles north-west of Kingsbridge – so about 8 miles from Coombe Leigh.  You’re not really aware that you’re climbing, the rise is so gradual, then suddenly the ground drops away and you realise that you can see for miles and miles in every direction. 

The Normans also took advantage of this in the 11th century, building a mott and bailey castle on top of the old hill fort.  There are two concentric rings of earthworks around the perimeter, with another ring and large mound at one end of the enclosure.  The wooden castle has long since vanished of course.  Ben doesn’t care about any of this – he was simply anxious to get going …. 

Blackdown Rings

Because he knows that between the earthworks, there are deep hollows – which after periods of heavy rain flood with clear, fresh peaty water and become … 

Blackdown Rings

Beautiful deep pools for swimming in!

 Blackdown Rings

Like this!!  “Come on in Mum, the water’s lovely!!”  The bluebells were coming into bloom, that wonderful shade of deep purpley blue, though not as many as last year which was an especially good year for bluebells .. 

Blackdown Rings

And we were spotted by the full-time residents – they were not at all alarmed by the sight of a very silly newfie splashing around in the water!

Blackdown Rings

You can clearly see the earthworks here … just think, these great mounds were dug out nearly 2,000 years ago!  Wonder if any of our buildings will last that long? 

Blackdown Rings

 This is looking back the way we came – the water in the pool has settled again after being well stirred up by Ben’s enormous paws. 

Blackdown Rings

The path ahead through the trees – we walk around the perimeter of the earthworks first, then up onto the mound of the old Norman Castle – I think the mound is the mott bit of mott and bailey… 

Blackdown Rings

The odd-looking structure is actually an engraved compass indicating the directions of various points of interest.  You can see about 40 miles on a clear day.  And that’s  the end of my photos.  My camera battery ran out so I had to put it away and throw extra sticks into the water for Ben to retrieve.  These pools are very short-lived though – next time we go they will probably have disappeared.  It’s so comical to watch the puzzled expression on Ben’s face when all he sees is grass where last time he was swimming!! I sometimes think he is a dog of very little brain!!