In the end, the winter solstice weather was better than expected, so it was in only persistent drizzle that we set off onto a soggy moor. Highly efficient navigation (not mine) led us, via Scorhill Circle, to a rushing stream and the Tolmen Stone. This massive boulder has a person-sized hole in the middle – ancient peoples believed clambering through it cured rheumatic disorders.
It’s a special spot. Especially for two strangers we met – Pip and Spider. They come here at significant times, when the seasons change and the year shifts gear. The stream; purification, renewal, Pip explained. They also had some of that ancient elixir: mead, and kindly shared this brew of syrupy-sweet fermented honey around.
Back at the stone circle, the solstice sunset was impossible to spot in the misty drizzle. But there was snaking between the stones and a sense of the absolute silence of the moor. And cake – lots of cake. And – as the day receded and the dusk grew – fairy lights appeared.
On the return journey, conversation turned to why it was very worth driving for an hour to wander Dartmoor in the rain. To mark the seasons and bring light to the dark. To not be deterred by a bit of rain and to be doing something to make days memorable. To meet friends and strangers full of fabulous stories and sip mead on a river bank set with a totemic stone.
And what about Pip and Spider – why is that place so special? Well, it seems they got married there. Pretty memorable, that.
PS: That was the first day of winter. The second? Back in the sea. Naturally …