Cornwall Earth March Days 10 and 11: Tavistock, Princetown, Powder Mills and Moretonhampstead.
March 22, 2019 by Dasher
We had been welcomed warmly by our Quaker Friends and the local community in Tavistock on Tuesday, 19th March and now came the day when we would embark on the toughest part of our journey, so far. The wild expanse of Dartmoor lay ahead. The weather was relatively mild, though grey and damping, and the forecast promised fog up on higher ground.
We had been joined that morning by Anna and her little girl Gwen, who at 11 months is our youngest marching eco-warrior to date and Gill, who had come all the way from Totnes by electric car to join us in the role of support driver across country.
A small group of Rebels set off through town, XR flags fluttering and our Cornish Earth March banner filled with a following Westerly breeze. We needed every bit of energy we had to climb the hills up out of Tavistock, along the narrow road that lead ever upwards towards open ground. Once on the Moor, the fog really closed in, shrouding everything in a ghostly grey mist into which figures drifted and disappeared, our chattering voices and the sounds of surrounding Nature, softened and muted. Gwen, safe in her sling as onward we marched.
A long day’s walking took us to Powder Mills, high above the bustle of the market town we had left that morning and four miles from our overnight bunkhouse accommodation in Princetown. I had arranged for Frances and Gill to ferry Rebels down from Powder Mills in support vehicles and we arrived at The Plume and Feathers at around five o’clock: exhausted but pleased with our progress that day.
The spartan Bunkhouse accommodation stood in sharp contrast to the gentle nestling we had enjoyed with Magi and Peter the previous night, but it served its purpose and we are grateful to XR funds that supported us in having safe harbour through that dark and eerie night.
Thursday morning and after a bit of a belly-busting breakfast, we were up and ready for the second half of our cross-Dartmoor trek. Back up at Powder Mills for ten o’clock and by half-past-ten, we were around seventeen in total. Once everyone was gathered, we struck out for Moretonhampstead on the Eastern side of the Moor. As the morning passed, we were once again joined by Keith Rossiter, Environmental Editor with The Western Morning News; Keith had published an article based on an interview I’d had with him earlier in the week, as we crossed The Tamar into Devon.
Hurriedly throwing the gear I’d sorted for my role as support driver that day, from the front seat of my car into the back, I made space for Keith to squeeze in and do a quick top up on events since we had last spoken. Meanwhile I was multi-tasking as backstop to the marching Rebels, protecting them from traffic coming up behind, vital on these moorland roads and the winding lanes that we would be travelling later that day. Some short way down the road, Keith jumped out, camera and sound recording gear at the ready, to interview individual Rebels. I’ll be buying a copy of this morning’s paper to see if we’re in there again.
I would urge XR Media Centre to push a lot harder to get publicity about Earth March into the National Press. Whilst I know that we’re up against it with the Brexit shenannigans that are currently choking off all other news, we have to have our voices heard. That is one of the main drivers for Earth March; to be seen and heard locally as we travel the country, contacting media groups ahead, so that we are given Local News coverage and brought to the attention of people through those channels. But our central media office needs to push and push on our behalf and get our work talked about in order to advance the awareness of our struggle and the XR Movement that we represent in our bid to turn the tide on the Climate Catastrophe we are all facing. The only thing that travels faster than the wildfires we have witnessed burning across the World is local news, gossip and conversation in the community and this is what we’re tapping in to!!
As we continued on through Postbridge, the climb upwards to our highest point on Dartmoor intensified and several of our older Rebels started to return home away from Earth March for that day, arranging meet-up places further along the journey and cheering us on our way. By the time we had ascended the steep rise ahead of us, our numbers had dropped to a core of seven walkers with Little Gwen safe and warm in her cocoon.
Five miles from our destination, we were met by Rachel who had come from Moretonhampstead with supplies of ‘Vegan Lemony Leek and Potato Soup’, rolls and the most deliciously energising ‘Nutty-Date Bars’!! A taste of more to come once we completed our march for the day. Frances made a brew in her van and after some welcome respite we were ready to continue along the slowly descending route.
Now down to five, we gradually found ourselves back in narrow winding lanes with sheep held in their demarked enclosures, hedgerows and woodland defining our way. As we took another break, lolling on a roadside embankment next to a small holding, a woman in a pink top leaned from a bedroom window offering support in the form of a tray of tea, Jaffa Cakes and a most welcome ‘gardener’s toilet’…Wonderful. Of course, she was wholeheartedly supportive of our commitment to Rebellion and wished us well.
On towards Moretonhampstead, where some some local people had come out to meet us and guide us into town. At the Parish Hall we were greeted with more tea, before we were provided with an array of curries, cakes and cream teas!! What an amazing community!! Rachel, who has worked as liaison with me around Earth March had brought all of this together with many wonderful people in the town and from what I gather, this endeavour is now steadily progressing towards establishing a local XR Group here.
We were taken home by Kate and John, Quaker Friends, who lavished us with bottles of wine, cheese and biscuits and all the home comforts one needs at the end of a really good day. Thank you Moretonhampstead, One and All!!