Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

Rev. H Hugh Breton, MA (1873-1936)

Steve Grigg

A tribute to Rev. H Hugh Breton, MA (1873-1936). He wrote a three part work about Dartmoor, which is brought together in a facsimile called “Beautiful Dartmoor”. Reading part 1, called “Sheepstor and its border lands”, I was particularly taken and slightly amused by Chapter 3, called “Cautions to Dartmoor Visitors”, which he states are: Bogs, Fogs, Escaped Convicts, Scotch Cattle, Vipers and Weather Vagaries”. This post is a tongue in cheek look at these 6 “cautions”.

Breton 1
Rev. H Hugh Breton, MA (1873-1936). Lived in Sheepstor from 1907 to 1922.
Breton 2
Having spent such a long time in Sheepstor it is unsurprising that part one of his trilogy relates to the immediate area. I love the picture of Drizzlecombe menhir with the Tor in the background.

Here is the first caution in a YouTube video relating to BOGS. The video shows Santa and a feather bed on Hameldown. Rev. Breton describes this as a Green Bog.

https://youtu.be/bPCqpsMHh24

Breton 3
The second caution. FOGS. This picture is the flagpole just above Tavy Hole from August 2018. Intriguingly Rev Breton, states “mist rarely occurs on the Moor when the wind is between N and E, except in early Autumn”.
Breton 4
Another FOG picture. This is North Hayne Down Tor. Rev Breton further states that “with the wind between SE and W the Moor is liable to be enveloped in mist at any time”.
Breton 11
The third caution. ESCAPED CONVICTS. Rev Breton states “If you ever have the unlikely experience of meeting one of these gentlemen of the order of the broad arrow, be kind and be polite to him.”
Breton 6
The fourth caution. SCOTCH CATTLE. Of this caution Rev. Breton states “They are not really dangerous, but it is wise to give them a wide berth in hot weather, as the forest flies are apt to irritate them.” This picture was taken near the count house at Cadover Bridge.
Breton 7
The fifth caution. VIPERS. Intriguingly, Rev Breton states “These reptiles spend the winter in the ground or in stone walls, dividing fields. Not infrequently they winter in the walls of moorland farmhouses, choosing kitchens for warmth, and occasionally pop out on winter evenings.” This picture was taken near Hamlyns leat on Holne Moor.
Breton 8
The sixth and final caution. WEATHER VAGARIES. Rev Breton’s advice is to “Look upward and aim high. Look upward at the sky and direct your gaze to the highest clouds and observe their motion.” This picture shows low cloud and snow on the summit of Cut Hill from November 2019.
Breton 9
WEATHER VAGARIES. This picture was taken in Drift Lane near Postbridge during a storm. The water level her had risen at least 1.5m. We were finishing a near 30km hike, where crossing water courses were near impossible.
Breton 10
This final picture is one of a series of sketches made by Rev Breton on Antiquities within the Sheepstor borderlands.

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