Thursday, 7 May 2009

The magical moors by moonlight

Tomorrow afternoon I head to wildest Dartmoor for the fifth full moon of 2009. This promises to be one of the highlights of my year of travels – and has been brewing since January 19, 2008. Although obstacles have been piled in our way, I’m set to meet a wonderful-sounding group of people tomorrow night and walk until the moon rises and later sets. All in the quest for myths, ghouls and hopefully a moonlit beast. This is how to plan in advance – and how to deal with life’s little tests…

In December 2007, I spotted this on the Dartmoor Zoological Park website—

Nocturnal Nightmares at Dartmoor Zoo! - Ghostly walks around the park

Nocturnal Nightmares is a series of spooky regular full moon, night-time, guided walks around the newly reopened Dartmoor Zoo. The walks will be led by David Phillips and Mark Lindsey Earley. David, a local expert in the supernatural, is the leader and a founder member of the well-respected and long established group “Torbay Investigators of the Paranormal” (TIP), and founder of “Moor Tours”- an organisation that gave minibus trips around Dartmoor’s most historic and mystical places, where he delighted in bringing the local myths and legends to life.
So I got in contact—
From: Robert Self-Pierson
Sent: Sat 19/01/2008 12:10
To: NN
Subject: Re: Nocturnal Nightmares at Dartmoor Zoo

I have been looking for a zoo to visit on a night walk and yours seems ideal. I am studying a post-grad course in writing in Falmouth, so Dartmoor would be within distance to drive. This is just a cursory email to show my interest in attending the March 21 night walk - as this falls on the full moon. If you could please give me as much information about the night as possible - including contact details for David and Mark perhaps - that would really help...
Mark got back to me and loved the idea of me joining a Nightmare. Perfect. Except for one thing—

----- Original Message ----
From: Robert Self-Pierson
To: mark lindsey earley
Sent: Friday, 14 March, 2008 10:48:28 AM
Subject: Re: Nocturnal Nightmares at Dartmoor Zoo

Dear Mark,

Bad news I'm afraid - I'm not going to be able to make this month's nocturnal ramble. At the same time as writing the moonwalking book, I'm working on another project that has received a little interest. This means I need to go to London next weekend so sadly won't be able to experience Dartmoor by night.

The other project was a script. Which the BBC soon declined. It wasn’t until my life turned a bit rubbish that I got back in touch with Mark. Though sadly—

I'm very sad to say that Nocturnal Nightmares came to an end, due to a change in policy at the zoo where they put an end to a number of events, including this one.

Lunar Blessings, Mark

My one contact – my best way to start Moonwalking 2009 – gone. Extinct. Out of orbit. You get the idea. I was gutted. But soon, a new light emerged—

From: Phillips, David
Subject: Dartmoor by moonlight
To: Robert Self-Pierson; Mark Lindsey Earley
Date: Thursday, 11 December, 2008, 12:05 PM

Hi Rob, I'm David, Mark's other far as Nocturnal Nightmares was concerned anyway! LOL I must admit I do miss the chance to "perform" at the zoo, but I'm not missing the cold! My costume was a bit skimpier than Mark's! LOL

I liked him. And he had an idea – which made me like him even more—

…If we can't get into the zoo for you I was going to suggest that we take a trip across the moor one night by the light of a full moon..........perhaps when weather warmer........and I/we could share our stories at other locations where their significance could better be illustrated, such as at stone rows/circles and the various legendary moorland graves.

And so it began. This was the conception of a meeting that will take place tomorrow.

From: "Phillips, David"
To: Robert Self-Pierson
Cc: mark lindsey earley
Sent: Saturday, 13 December, 2008 12:29:51
Subject: RE: Dartmoor by moonlight

Hi Rob

That's sorted then! When the weather is warmer and the moon is full, to the moors we will go! LOL

I reckon the moor looks and feels good any time of the year day or night!

But we both decided it looks and feels best when the temperature is at least two digits long. By the beginning of 2009, David had started planning the itinerary for our May moonwalk—

We can do Hunter's Tor on Lustleigh Cleave..........nice pub too by the way! fact our walk last Sunday took us via Manaton Rocks overlooking said cleave!
How about you come down for a weekend in an attempt to do the moors justice? Could show you it by day and night! At the moment I'm staying in a B&B with some friends, very nice…

So I called my best friend and got everything booked for a weekend on the moors with—

The group I run, TIP Torbay Investigators of the Paranormal

At the beginning of this week, I started to reread Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles – an exciting yarn about a hound...and the Baskervilles. Set, of course, on the moors. I told David—
From: Phillips, David
Subject: RE: RE: Moon on the horizon
To: "Rob Self-Pierson"
Date: Wednesday, 6 May, 2009, 1:46 PM

As you've read Hound then perhaps we should also visit areas mentioned in that too! The hotel where he wrote it can be found in Princetown and is now an interesting visitors centre for the moors. Fox Tor mire stands in for the Great Grimpen mire and we could view that..........from a safe distance! LOL and we must also visit the old church at Buckfastleigh where can be found the tomb of Squire Cabel, allegedly one of the inspirations for the novel. Worth a visit by day or night!

The trip is booked. The moors beckon. Our guide awaits our arrival with glee. And he’s organised for members of TIP to join us, as my friend has a slight fear that the Beast of Dartmoor might eat us. I don't think David's quite so worried—

Members of the group are planning to join us for both nights of your stay so we won't be alone with the beast!

If I make it back alive, I’ll have some video footage of the weekend. If I don’t, the footage will be in a mire. I’ll leave you with the immortal words of Sherlock Holmes, as he warns Sir Henry Baskerville – the next in line for a hound-mauling – about the perils of his surroundings in Devon—

Avoid the moor in those hours of darkness when the powers of evil are exalted

As long as that’s not 4am on a Saturday, I should be all right.

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