I came to Dunkery Beacon today with a plan – to get photos of a purple haze of Heather, glowing in the summer sun. I had imagined Izzy and I wandering through a heath buzzing with bees, shimmering with heat haze and, on reaching the top of the hill, gazing down over Exmoor.
Well, my plan has gone out of the window. It has been drizzling all day and Dunkery Beacon is shrouded in fog. As we step out of the car, zipped up in winter waterproofs, the mizzle turns to the kind of rain that soaks through your jeans in seconds.
But, we are hardy souls, so we start up the hill along a stony track. On one side of the track the ground is bare except for the skeletal black bones of burned shrubs. On the other side, amongst the thick Heather there are Bilberry plants, groaning with plump blue fruits. Progress is very, very slow, as Izzy searches for and gobbles up handfuls of berries. Soon, we both have purple fingers.
At one point, I turn back to see that Izzy has stopped walking and is staring at me, a picture of sulkiness.
“What’s the matter?” I ask, “You look cross. What are you cross about?”
“Cross with Mummy.”
I’m not sure what I have done wrong, but she has spent most of the past week being cross with Mummy. I try to cheer her up by stamping in puddles with her and she breaks into giggles. Then she heads off piste to use the scattered rocks in the grass as stepping stones
We walk for a random amount of time along the path. It is pointless walking to the top as there is no view. And I can’t even see the top, anyway. We turn around and head back towards the road.
As we reach the car, the clouds part and for a brief moment, a view of rolling hills and plunging valleys is revealed. Then the clouds rejoin and the slither of blue sky and landscape disappears.
We drove through Dunkery Gate and stopped at the next car park on the right hand side of the road, then followed the track up the hill (who knows how far!). The track was uneven but probably navigable with a buggy.
Other places to see heather
- Simonside, Northumberland
- Holystone Nature Reserve, Northumberland
- Upton Heath Nature Reserve, Dorset
- Crimea Pass, Conwy
- Wadsworth Moor, Yorkshire
- Duke’s Pass, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
- Hay Tor, Dartmoor, Devon
- Dark Peak, Derbyshire
- Brimham Rocks, Yorkshire