Back in the early ’90s when Sarah and I still lived in Brighton, we only used to get one week per year on the moor. It was usually the third or fourth week in September, and we always used to stay in the same place, at Wooder Manor, just outside Widecombe, where farmers William and Angela Bell have converted some of their outbuildings into cosy holiday lets. (If you ever think of exploring Dartmoor for yourself, Wooder is an excellent base.)
We were staying there when I started writing Mortal Engines, and when I needed a family name for my hero I just looked out of the window, and called him after nearby Natsworthy*, where a line of grand old beech trees comes down to the road.
But eventually we got tired of going home after our holidays, so I started illustrating full-time so that we could move here (I can’t drive, so if I was going to live in the country, I had to have a job that I could do from home)**. We’ve lived on the moor for almost sixteen years now, and for the past seven we’ve been William and Angela’s neighbours, just across the valley from Wooder.
Last night Sam was on a sleepover with some friends, so Sarah and I had the rare chance to go for an evening walk together. We left the car at Natsworthy and walked up over Hameldown to the ancient settlement at Grimspound. Here are a few pictures which I snapped on my phone…
Someone had pitched a tent in the circle of the old wall at Grimpsound, which must be a wonderful place to camp, but in this picture I’ve carefully positioned Sarah to block it out.
|Hookney Tor catching some low evening sunbeams.|
|Not a menhir, I think, just an old gatepost in a fallen wall.|
|Photo: Sarah Reeve|
** Or I could have LEARNED TO DRIVE, I suppose – for some reason I never thought of that.