Legend has it that in the moonlight Dartmoor piskies gather to play at Cuckoo Rock, but today it was only Bea sprinkling fairy dust and dancing along the sheep trod paths as we took Molly for a walk up from Norworthy Bridge by Burrator Reservoir to the very large and distinctive granite boulder that is possibly named such because the top looked like a bird. As we walked, Bea would grab handfuls of bracken and tear it up to form green leafy confetti. Sprinkled gleefully over shoulders and into hair she declared it would make you fly. While we managed some good jumps, we still had to plough uphill through the ferns and scramble over boulders on two feet, though the fairy dust did provide some magic and kept a small girl moving over a good three miles of moorland walking.
It was a beautiful day, clear and sunny with scattered rays of warmth breaking through a chilly breeze. Not beach weather, but perfect for a Dartmoor adventure. The wind making it not sensible for cosy fleeces to be left with Daisy the campervan, but not persistent enough to warrant wearing them. Thus the walk was spent with a nuisance of sleeves being tied around little waists and sunhats periodically blowing back down the trail and demanding to be chased.
Despite being bordered by stone wall hedgerows and passing the ruins of abandoned medieval farmsteads, the gravel path to the moors was struggling to motivate the children, but once we popped out onto moorland and Dad was able to ask them which way they wanted to go by pointing up to the imposing Cuckoo Rock, or waving in the direction of Sheeps Tor, a goal was set and Sam and Bea eagerly pressed on up the hill to get to the big rock. Dog, Dad and Sam led the way with Bea’s little legs lagging behind, but while she complained of tiredness she was just as determined to get there and it was more frustration at not being able to keep up as together she and I picked our way up the steep climb and brought up the rear.
For the return journey we decided to navigate a higher moorland route and pushed our way through what to the children must’ve been a nose high thick jungle of bracken. Suddenly the tone changed as we emerged from the ferns and neared an opening in a granite enclosing wall. Dad stood still, ear cocked, and brought the chatter to a halt. Trustworthy arms gathered around us, he shepherded us forward on tiptoes, warning us not to wake the troll.
“There’s a nasty troll that lives here. He’s asleep just around the corner, behind that wall. Don’t make a sound!”
Silently we crept through the gate and scuttled down the hillside away from the danger, until Dad spun back around and blew some raspberries in the troll’s direction.
“Nah nah nah nah nah! Yah boo sucks! You didn’t get us!”
He then took off running down the path back to the van with his motley entourage in chase.