Thursday, 18 March 2010

Cosdon Beacon Walk

A new walk is up at the Devon Walks site. This walk starts from South Zeal and shows off some of the best views of Dartmoor by visiting its second highest peak - Cosdon Beacon.

This area is a real treasure trove of early archaeology. There is a comprehensive article over at http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/cosdon_beacon.htm that details all the sites of interest around Cosdon Beacon.

What strikes me is how the way we view Dartmoor has changed since the Bronze Age when many of the settlements and cairns were first established. To those people this was a rich area where it was possible to live a good life. Flint was available for making tools and the local flora & fauna were rich enough and diverse enough to sustain them.

Those people would have had an intimate knowledge of the land and today we speculate that the beacon had cultural significance to them due to the number of important sites here. To them this was home, a place to respect but also a place in which they were entirely comfortable.

Today we see Dartmoor as something of a wilderness, albeit one that has been tamed to a greater extent. In general, it is somewhere we would venture for a day out but the thought of staying out and sustaining ourselves off the land is incomprehensible. The frequent call outs for the moorland rescue team are a testament to how difficult we find it to stay safe out on the moor.

Over the years our standards of living have improved immeasurably and many of the skills need to survive have been lost. This is completely understandable, as we do not need to worry about our day-to-day subsistence any more. However, as we have become detached from the land and from nature we have lost a little of that connection that was so integral to our ancestors health and well-being.

I do not think it is necessary to abandon modern living and 'get back to nature' and nor do I deny that our lives today are longer, healthier and more enjoyable thanks to modern efficiencies. However, what I would suggest to those that walk in this area is to imagine what Bronze Age life was like. How special is the intimate knowledge of the land that most of us have lost and what can we learn from their lifestyle.

Finally, when you are enjoying the view from the top of the beacon be thankful for modern walking shoes, country pubs and the ability to drive home to a nice warm bed!

For more ideas on walking in Devon, please visit the site.

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