Widecombe Life

Widecombe-in-the-Moor on Dartmoor in Devon UK. A magical place to live. Surrounded by moorland, archaeological remains, wildlife, flora, beautiful scenery - and pretty empty considering how crowded our island is. Lots to talk about on all sorts of levels.

Also worth a look!

  • Widecombe-in-the-Moor
  • Widecombe Fair
  • Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust
  • Friday, June 05, 2009

    Tetra Masts

    A fight has been going on for months (no - years) between Airwave and local residents of Widecombe over the installation of a Tetra mast for communication between the emergency services. Because of the valley, normal line of site communication does not work so extra masts are needed (in fact this is a general Dartmoor problem beset as Dartmoor is by numerous steep-sided valleys). Residents do not want the mast and Airwave have been non-cooperative to say the least and have made few friends in the area. The Dartmoor National Park Authority have withdrawn their original objections to the installation so the residents are on their own in fighting Airwave.
    The application is now at Public Inquiry level and the first hearing of that has been adjourned and reconvened and then extended to deal with further and more accurate evidence (thanks to the tenacity of the Inspector). The next hearing date is set for October 2009.
    The residents do not object to the emergency services. Clearly they need proper communications cover. But they do object to the non-cooperative way in which this matter has proceeded. There are a number of alternative ways of delivering the required communications but no-one will discuss them.
    No one is allowed to discuss health concerns but these low (close to brain) frequency masts are not a good idea near population centres (including a school). It seems the government has sold the air frequencies that the services previously used and now requires tetra as the (now not so) new solution.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2005


    Just to let my many (???!!) readers know that we are going on holiday for two weeks so there may not be any new posts in that time.
    So, where does someone who lives in such a lovely place as Dartmoor go to on holiday? We talk about 'beauty overload' here, implying that you have to escape every so often otherwise you would lose your sense of balance vis a vis the 'real' world. The favoured destination to redress the balance is some form of desolate industrial wasteland, but we have instead opted this time for a Greek Island. Should be good.

    Dartmoor Speed Limits etc

    Having recently written about animals roaming free on the moor, what did I see yesterday on the Princetown to Yelverton road but a dead lamb on the roadside. This must happen a lot, basically because on those 'main' roads across the moor, people travel too fast and maybe don't care about hitting animals. It's awful.
    It could all be prevented with speed bumps or similar forcing people to keep their speed down.
    At the entrance to Widecombe village is a 40mph sign, i.e. 40 mph through Widecombe village is not breaking the speed limit, regardless of the people wandering across the road and the school just round the corner. Go out of the village along the Natsworthy lane and you see a no limit sign - so 60 mph is OK. Of course if you tried those speeds you would end up in a hedge, but what damage might you cause before that happened.
    I can't understand the general allowance of a 40mph limit on Dartmoor's roads - inclduing our local lane with a steep descent and a 90 degree blind corner at the bottom. It's just crazy.
    40mph may be just about OK on the 'main' routes, but 30mph should be the limit on most of the lanes and 20mph through the villages.
    This should not be a problem for most people who are out for a trip and want to enjoy the view. Nor should it be a problem for the locals who follow these speeds anyway. As usual it is just the few who cause the problem.

    Friday, June 24, 2005

    On Dartmoor Animals Roam Free

    Yes, it's true. Within the area of the commons or open moorland, farmers have a right to allow their animals to roam free, within certain quotas - in fact there is also payment made to farmers for them to keep some animals off the moor so that the total can be controlled.
    Ponies, cows and sheep all roam free - and they all have owners.
    It is tempting to feed the ponies but this is not a good idea as it encourages them nearer to the road and accidents are not uncommon. Many animals use the roads to sleep on - they tend to be drier than the grass areas and warmer in winter. The black cows are the hardest to spot when you are driving at night!! In general keep your speed down. I think the 40 mph limit is too high (another blog for this).
    It is one of the wonders of Dartmoor to see the animals free.

    Also on the green at Widecombe they are often to be seen happily grazing. Great photo opportunity!

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    Widecombe Fair

    Our History Group is currently researching the history of Widecombe Fair. This can take many forms. We have discovered an artist (well, not exactly discovered), Pamela Colman Smith who produced an illustrated limited-edition work on Widdicombe Fair in 1899, of which there is a copy in the Devon Records Office. You can find out more about her here. We don't know much about her links with Widecombe, although apparently her friend Ellen Terry had a house in Chudleigh (which is not far away) at one time.
    The pictures in the book are wonderful. Take a look at this one.

    If you want to view more of the pctures try this link.
    Our thanks to Holly who compiled the Pamela Colman Smith site data.

    Monday, June 20, 2005


    Further to the recent post about Dartmoor having its own weather system, I think because our air usually comes straight from the Atlantic, when it reaches us it is still very pure, i.e. it contains very few pollutants. This is not all good. Roses, apparently, like some pollution in the air and black spot - an unpleasant fungal infection (of roses) - although controllable in an urban garden, thrives in our clean air.
    The other beneficiary (apart from our lungs, of course) is lichen, which grows everywhere. This picture:
    Lichen on the Garden Bench
    shows the lichen that has grown all over one of our garden seats - the pic just shows part of a single strut. On close inspection it is very like coral - it certainly has coral's variety of form.
    Lichen will only grow like this where the air is clean enough. So, if you've got it, you know your air is in pretty good shape.

    Saturday, June 18, 2005

    Dartmoor Is So Peaceful

    I thought last night, as I often do, how peaceful it is here. It is one of the main attractions. Yes, you hear the odd car (or tractor), but especially in the evening the only sounds are natural - birds, cows, ponies etc. Even aeroplanes are a rarity, a blessing in this day and age.
    You get quite attached to the birds - a whole blog in itself. This time of year (midsummer) there is a bird that starts its song at 3.30 a.m. It's a challenge to keep sleeping especially if you are a light sleeper like me.
    But to get back to the peace - what a rarity to have no background traffic drone. The main thing is - we really appreciate it. It's rarely mentioned but is always there and invaluable.
    And today is really warm and sunny - so back outside (even the visitors head for the coast when it's really hot, so daytime traffic is quiet today).
    Have fun whatever you are doing.

    Friday, June 17, 2005

    Dartmoor Has Its Own Weather System

    Dartmoor is a large granite mass which pushed its way up out of the earth 100 or so million years ago. It is now the first place the Atlantic weather hits as it makes its way from the prevailing south-westerly direction.
    So the last couple of days have been extremely murky. We have sat in permanent low cloud.
    As a result, on a shopping trip to Exeter yesterday, my wife wore sturdy shoes, jeans and fleece against the weather, only to find, on reaching Exeter (20 miles away), that the sun was out and everyone else was walking around in strappy dresses and light sandals (not sure what the correct terms are here).
    You can see, we have our own climate and our own, quite separate, life to everyone else.

    Broadband - or lack of it

    Widecombe is in the 0.4% of the UK population that does not have BT broadband. BT has no plans to provide it because it is not economically viable.
    There is a chance that we will get broadband either through a wireless link, or via a SWRDA grant, but it is hard to know when.
    I am not rampantly left-wing at all, but, if BT were still a public (nationalised) company, its decisions would be made on a completely different basis - there would be no discrimination against different groups, and perhaps 'monopoly' basic service providers should not be in private hands for that reason (hence the regulator I suppose).
    If BT had always been private then we may still be waiting for telephones up here, because to provide them would not, in their words, be 'economically viable'. It seems wrong that the SWRDA should have to find grant money (taxpayers money in some form), to fill these gaps.
    Incidentally, electricity only came to Widecombe in 1963 - not that long ago really (before that we would have used generators). Again if the electricity companies had been private, perhaps we would still be using generators.
    So (some of) the disadvantages of living in rural areas are caused by companies being privatised. That is weird. I have to say there are plenty of advantages too, so I am not in general complaining, just trying to make a point about decision making.
    I would like to hear from others with views on this

    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    This is mostly for my benefit rather than anyone reading.
    Will this get set up right and will it all work? and what will it look like?
    In common with everyone else this blog will set the world to rights. If you want the answers you need look no further than here.
    What irritates you most?
    What do you like the most?
    Ramblings on virtually anything will be found here over the months and years ahead
    All you have to do now is wait.........

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