Down on the slopes my eye was caught by the striking red of the lichen Devil’s Matchstick (Cladonia floerkeana) (see image below), an apt discovery on this spooky walk. The Cladonia genus of lichens are common on heathlands, enjoying the clean air of such habitats. The name is derived from the Greek ‘’cladon’, meaning branching – these are easy to recognise lichens with their brightly covered fruiting bodies (ascocarps) borne on the top of the podetia (Cladonia Resources, 2012).
As we descended into the Merrivale valley, crossed the rushing brook, and climbed the other side we found ourselves in the middle of a Bronze Age settlement. Standing within the remains of an ancient hut circle we tried to imagine a thriving community looked down on by the imposing tor. Our final mystery lay above this settlement; a stone circle, or at least what remained after past misdemeanours of troops using it as target practice during the Second World War (Sale 2000). By this time the sun had broken through the mist to show us the full breathtaking beauty of an aged landscape decorated by human antiquities; geology merging with mis-tor-y!
Sale, R (2000) Dartmoor – Collins rambler’s guide. London: HarperCollins.Cladonia Resources (2012) [online] What is Cladonia? http://www.cladonia.co.uk/component/content/article/10.html [Accessed 13/02/12]