It’s 9am and I am stood out on top of Holne Moor. Well, I think I am on Holne Moor, the mist is that thick. Mist you might imagine to have a fairly even consistency, but this has lumps from football size and upwards, distinctly opaque moments in an otherwise opaque medium. I half expect to feel them hit me as I stand looking at a few meters of furze, unfurling bracken and grass that soon greys and fades into newspaper white. If this were October then I would not be surprised, but this is the end of May and I am beginning to wish I’d brought a pair of fleece gloves with me.
This is definitely Holne Moor though. I recognize that tree.
An hour later and it is raining, but then this is Dartmoor and everything is inevitable.
A change of venue, a different car park, a car park in the wind, and the car rocks as each gust hits it. But, and it is just a hint of a maybe, the rain has stopped and away over there the cloud looks thinner and brighter. As I say, this is Dartmoor and it is quite possible to cram 4 seasons into a single day.
The weather changes at a dizzying pace, the cloud cover fragments and shafts of sunshine undulate across the hills, fast giving way to rippling shadows cast by increasingly infrequent and dwindling clouds.
The choice now is swim at the usual place or look for somewhere new. Somewhere new it’s going to be, though I skirt the bog that screens the deep pool and waterfall somewhat reluctantly as there is no guarantee I will find somewhere new.
The new pool appears just in time both because I am within 100m of the road and because I am now very warm. I am wearing as many layers as I can bear to keep out the gorse prickles, only that has not worked and to that I have been forced to wade through a number of bogs so my boots are full of water. Plonking down on a plastic bag spread over the soggy grass I empty my boots of water, grit and assorted bits of foliage. After that and in no time at all I step down the granite lip from the grass into knee deep clear orange water.
The pool is neither deep nor long, a slim finger of water between high banks, but at the top end a cascade threads between stones and gushes over lips beneath an interlaced tree canopy that is yet to become fully leafed. Lying in the pool I exhale and sink gently to the pebble river bed in no more than 2 feet of water, which, though warmer than expected is still chill enough to drive me quickly back to the surface with watering eyes and the start of ice-cream head.
It may not have been much of a swim but whatever it was it was just in the nick of time and I feel greatly refreshed. So much for the forecast!