CORNWALL COGITATION #11 Friday 14 April 2017 On Tuesday, Steve and Marilyn Bowden, neighbours, took us to Lydford Gorge in Dartmoor National Park, near Tavistock, Devon.
Lydford Gorge includes areas aptly named Lambhole Wood, White Lady Waterfalls, Tunnel Falls, Pixie Glen, Devil’s Cauldron, and more. It is managed by the National Trust.
The National Trust runs a Guardianship Scheme at Lydford Gorge with the local primary school. Schoolchildren visit the Gorge once a month to carry out a variety of practical activities that support the national curriculum. Just imagine the benefit of children getting involved in environmental and conservation work–future guardians and conservationists today.
As might not be surprising, there’s a darker side to the Gorge story, too. One legend describes a band of outlaws, the Gubbinses, who lived there in the 16th century. The writer of “Onward Christian Soldiers,” the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, tells how the Gubbinses survived by “stealing sheep and cattle, and carrying them into the labyrinth of glens where they could not be traced.”
Thomas Fuller, in Worthies of England (1644-47), wrote of the Gubbinses: “They live in cotts (rather like holes than houses) like swine, having all in common, multiplied, without marriage, into many hundreds. Their language is the drosse of the dregs of vulgar Devonian: and more learned a man is, the worse he can understand them. Their wealth consists of other men’s goods and they live by stealing sheep off the moor. Such their fleetness they will out-run a horse. They hold together like burrs, offend one and all will revenge his quarrel.”
Then there’s the legend of the lady after whom the main falls is named. This legend claims that any person who falls into the Lyd River and sees a woman in white with long flowing tresses will not drown. That’s not to say the shock of cold water wouldn’t spring you out in its own right, vision or not of a woman in white who may look like the waterfall.
Helpfully, if you fall in the river around the waterfall, you’ll only be In up to your knees by the looks of the spot, though watch out for the undertow centripetal force of the pooling water. Not to spoil–or test–the legend, mind you. On second thought, I’d be happy to avoid drowning by seeing a vision of a woman in white.
Since tourists started coming with the introduction of the railroad in the Victorian era, the White Lady Waterfall has been repeatedly voted one of the most romantic locations in the West Country. Gets my vote, too.
Photos from other walks this week
Bluebells flank the tower of St Uny Church in Lelant. Flowers, two curious and animated donkeys, fields and sky and blooming Blackthorn keep us engaged in the out-of-doors.
Writers promote getting out
Writing an Opinion piece, “Screens have led to a nature deficit. Kids need to be outdoors” in The Guardian (1 April), Michael McCarthy notes that 12 years ago American writer Richard Louv pointed out the danger of children staying indoors.
Louv said the consequences of such alienation from the natural world included diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses. He called the syndrome: nature deficit disorder.
McCarthy, author of The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy, said, “if we value our planet it’s vital that we reconnect future generations with the living world around them.”
Charlie Gilmour in the I daily (28 March) makes the same point for people of any age. In “Better out than in” makes the point that there is benefit both ways, one, boosting one’s health and the other realizing “It isn’t always about what nature can do for us. As the cityscape grows, we’ll have to make space for wildlife, or risk losing it.” He adds, “it’s hard to hug a tree that isn’t there.”
Put some green time into your day, he advises, adding, even 20 minutes a day out-of-doors can be beneficial. “Nature’s a wonderful thing. If only we can learn from it,” he concludes.
One more thing. If those elected to lead would attend to the areas of need, such as clean water, clean air, good food, good jobs, homes, all wrought by good governance, we’d be a happier, robuster lot. In the USA we’d even get over the cold we’ve caught in denying climate change.
The poster tells of a Good Friday Passion play taking place in the town square at Tavistock, Devon. It has been publicized on BBC South West. We’ll not be there, but might catch a glimpse on the late news. Go Tavistock Passion players!