They say the weather outside is frightful
But I think it’s quite delightful
There’s simply one place to go
Leeden snow, Leeden snow, Leeden snow.
With apologies to, well, anyone really. I couldn’t resist it.
Leeden Tor is somewhere I’ve been to a few times but I’ve yet to get a decent photo there. And it wasn’t really on my radar for Saturday morning’s visit to Dartmoor either.
With snow showers likely overnight I was keen to get up to Dartmoor to have a look first thing. My destination was Hookney Tor, near Moretonhampstead, as I want to get a good image of this part of the moor and it’s one of my favourite views. It would also be easyish to get to I figured with minimal tricky roads to navigate.
As I left Moretonhampstead and headed up to the moor, it was apparent that there was no snow near Hookney. I mentally prepared for a standard sunrise shot but then glanced over towards Cosdon Beacon which was snow-covered. Therefore I decided to drive on and find some white stuff. It was “fun” driving along the main road towards Two Bridges and there was no way I was going to be in danger of creeping over the 40mph limit today!
As I approached Princetown I could see that the mast at North Hessary Tor was standing in snow and I kept going through town towards Walkhampton Common. It was a winter wonderland. Well, it had a small covering of snow and full of photographic promise anyway.
I still didn’t know where to go. Hart Tor could have been good, but I passed that parking opportunity. Black Tor? Ditto. I was then thinking of heading to Sharpitor but then thought of Leedon at the last minute. Parking up, I got out and, sitting on the lip of the car boot, saw another car pull up. I was expecting the Dartmoor “togs” to be out in force, but this was no other photographer, these were the first of the snow tourists. A couple got out of their car with a young baby. Bloody Hell, it’s too cold for him/her, I thought, but then figured that the baby was wrapped up warmly enough and was probably guilty of getting them up early enough for them to catch sunrise.
Lucky them. Lucky me.
I wandered off towards Leeden tor from the car park and soon approached the rocks. Conscious of leaving footprints in my own photos, I took a wide berth to get there – treading in between the clitter where possible to hide my footprints. I was soon at the tor and set up for my first shot. This was my first cold outing of the winter and, boy, did it feel cold. My hands were soon freezing and I needed the gloves from my camera bag – an early trade off between dexterity and warmth.
After a few minutes the sun was up taking me, as per usual, by suprise. Why this is I have no idea as I plan my starts around it, but it always does seem to catch me out looking for compositions. I turned around and took some of it coming up with the tor in the foreground. Then a snow shower came in and, almost as soon as it appeared, the view was obliterated. I was desperate for my lens not to get wet as I’d left my lens cloth in the car. Doh!
It soon passed and the view re-appeared. The view to the north of Staple, Cox, and Great Mis Tors was fantastic. The sun was lighting up the tors beneath a fearsome sky. Through my 70-200 I saw fresh snow falling on Great Mis Tor, with that already there being whipped up by the wind. The Princetown transmitter mast was also strangely atractive in the warm early morning light. I have always tried to avoid it in my photos but sometimes it’s good just to embrace it. Although it is a pain shooting Leeden Tor itself to find a mast popping out of the top of it.
Anyway, the sun was well up now. I wandered around the tor and found some more pleasing compositions before heading back to the car. I just had to stop en-route though as there were a bunch of Dartmoor ponies standing by a rocky outcrop looking as if they didn’t care about the cold. They must have been freezing though.
Anyway, onward and homeward. A hot coffee and breakfast was waiting.