Devon landscapes

Dartmoor ponies are semi-wild and perfectly adapted to the harsh weather and tough grazing on the moors. They have been used for a variety of tasks in the past, most notably to haul loads from the tin mines, but they also make great children’s ponies because of their size and temperament. They are owned by Dartmoor Commoners, hill farmers with the rights to graze stock on the open moor, and are rounded up in autumn at traditional ‘drifts’ for overwintering the mares and selling on of the foals. It’s a tradition under threat, as the financial climate makes it harder for the Commoners to make enough at sale to sustain the care of the herd. And yet a loss of the ponies would threaten the moor’s ecology too – ponies graze on shrubs and rushes that cows and sheep cannot, and without them the open moorland would change in character.

These two are having a mutual grooming session. In the past I’ve seen ponies using the ancient standing stones of Scorhill stone circle as scratching posts. Behind them spread the rolling plains of Gidleigh Common, with shifting sunlight lighting up the golden grasses and the high hills receding in the summer haze.

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North Teign River

Devon landscapes

The Teign River rises in the shadow of the tors on the heights of Dartmoor, then loops away to form […]

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Winter dawn, Sampford Peverell

Devon landscapes

A soft, grey dawn in winter in the village of Sampford Peverell in Devon. Mist rises from the canal and […]

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Thumbnail image for clapper bridge on Dartmoor

clapper bridge on Dartmoor

Devon landscapes

Dartmoor is a place of contradictions and contrasts, not least in the weather. The wide, empty landscape conceals a busy […]

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Summer mist

Devon landscapes

Ripples of ripening barley stand on a summer morning heavy with mist. It’s the soft, quiet part of the day […]

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Thumbnail image for Lustleigh Cleave

Lustleigh Cleave

Devon landscapes

When people think of Dartmoor they think of high wild moorland in the heart of Devon. But as well as […]

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