Monday May15th - the second part of the walk, Holsworthy to Bradworthy

The brown flat button on the map will have to turn into a red button now:

2008 update: new turbine proposal at Brandis Corner near Holsworthy

Near Holsworthy, it began to rain. I managed this snap of Holsworthy Church (on the right), then had to put my camera away. I had a quick cup of tea in a cafe,

This is the only photo I have of Holsworthy, because of the rain, which is a shame. You can just see Holsworthy Church through the trees.

More about Holsworthy to come,
but just for now I thought you might like to know about a very interesting website called

This was set up by the son of Michael Reynolds, who is vicar of Holsworthy, and is highly recommended.  Perhaps he is doing his best to make London roundabouts a little like Devon banks.
Holsworthy church
From the diary:

"Ivan had told me that there was a photo of the start in the Western Morning News, so in Holsworthy I went into the local supermarket and picked one up. I stopped briefly for a cup of tea in a small cafe, used the public toilets by the bus-stop and the church, then went on, towards Bradworthy.

From Holsworthy to Bradworthy the road was much busier, and so not very pleasant. I had another seven miles to or so to go. Now and then the sun came out and lit up the landscape. I saw pylons marching across the fields. They are not atractive either. Like turbines, they make me think of the Tripods in John Christopher`s science fiction books. It was the worst part of the walk. It became grey again. I passed through Chillaton, which is what I would call a main-road village. It had a lot of new bungalows and wasn`t particularly attractive, although to be fair it may be much nicer if you live there. Perhaps the people who live there love their village too.

With about four miles to go I met Ivan and Diane in their car, coming away from Bradworthy. They had dropped off my rucksack at Marie`s. They said they had seen me in Holsworthy as well, as they drove through, although I hadn`t spotted them. It was nice seeing a friendly face. As I had become tireder I had been feeling a little vulnerable somehow, feeling more alone on the busier main road then I ever did in the quieter countryside.

The last four miles I was getting tired, but not too badly. I was walking up one of those hills that I don`t like so much – a long slow drag of a rise. I had expected to see the turbines from a long way away, but it wasn`t until I crested a hill with three miles to go that they came into view (the hill itself had blocked them from view)

Seeing the turbines gave me something to think about, and I forgot my tiredness. Although I don`t like them I can in fact understand that some people might do so. If it was just a question of these there being the only ones in Devon (just as Hinckley Point is the only nuclear power station in the South West of England) then it might not be so bad, but we could easily end up with 350 of them in Devon. I kept reminding myself that these ones were smallish, only 260ft high. The ones proposed for Wheeler`s cross, on the other side of Bradworthy, are 410 ft high.

Finally I turned off onto the quieter road towards Forrest Moor and Marie`s – it was such a great relief to be away from the traffic, although one car did come by as I approached a cross-roads, and it paused beside me. It was Sarah Payne, who lives in Bradworthy and had come down to Brent Tor for the start. “Hi” she said, “would you like a lift for the last bit?” I thanked her but said no, I only had two miles to go, and wanted to complete the walk.

There was quite a strong wind and it was noisy in itself. As I approached the turbines I couldn`t hear that much noise from them, but passing by I heard the distinct whooshing of the blades. I stopped at the gateway to the site and looked at them, across a distance of about half a mile ?. They were smooth, and white, and alien. It was very hard to grasp their size, because they made the trees beside them look like shrubs. The nacelles reminded me of Concorde, they pointed towards me like pointed beaks . They were not hideous. I didn`t like them, but then I don`t like all Barbara Hepworth`s sculptures, so that an aesthetic judgement is in part a matter of taste. In 2007 I was taken by a friend to a wonderful mountain in Scotland, where a massive sculpture by Henry Moore sits on a hillside overlooking a valley. It was sublime, magnificent, and very moving... It was rough, like a weather-worn boulder and it seemed to have been made for that place, to fit it as a glove fits a hand. It was special, and unique. I would not want to see it on every hill-side, it would lose its impact.

These Bradworthy turbines are not sculptures, but if they were the only ones they would at least be interesting. I don`t think even the most ardent supporter could have said that they fitted into the landscape (unless they were paid by the developers). They were just too big, and totally out of scale with their surroundings. But, I will be honest, it was in some ways exciting to see them, simply because there were no others in Devon... yet

Back in 2004 I had visited Bradworthy with a friend, and seen a bungalow which I had presumed was Marie`s, so I hadnt checked to find out where she lived as well as I should have done. Marie had become quite famous when the turbines were first proposed. She is a widow, and had lived in her house for many years, with a lovely open view, looking towards Dartmoor in the South. As I said earlier, on a clear day she could even see Brent Tor. Her house was on a very quiet road, her life was peaceful until the turbines came along,

The Bradworthy turbines would be the first big turbines in Devon, and there was a lot of opposition to the plan. Marie`s plight was made much of, and she constantly interviewed by the Press and TV. A television company even took her over to Germany, to see how people lived with turbines there (they have thousands of them, and they do make people`s lives miserable).

But, despite all the opposition....insert story here... the developers won, and the turbines were buit, in 2004. There was nothing Marie could do about it. When she heard about my walk, Marie offered to put me up in her house. It was immensely kind of her – she didnt know me – and it gave me the opportunity to actually sleep in a house close by some turbines, to experience what it would be like to live near them.

I left the gateway, and walked on. I suddenly felt very tired, and glad that my walk was nearly over. I longed to sit down, and have a cup of tea. The bungalow was just around the corner. Marie had spoken modestly about the accommodation she was offering, and I had assured her I would be happy with anythng, but I have to say that my heart sank a little as I saw it. The garden was unkempt, the paintwork shabby, the whole place had an air of neglect about it. I went up the steps to the door and knocked. There was no answer. I looked through a window, and realised it was an empty house. Was I glad I had a mobile phone with me now!

Marie answered my call, and told me where she lived – it was about a half mile further on, and very much more habitable!

Marie has two dogs – Sprocket/ spaniels Sue and Paris, Sue`s son. Sue had recently had puppies, that were out in the shed. Marie`s bungalow was very nice, with thick stone walls and big windows looking over the valley. I could see at once that she had had a beautirful view. Maybe not the grandest view in the world – on the scale that the landscape experts at Public inquiries into wind farms use – but if it had been your view you have loved it with all your heart. Now it is a turbine view. You can still see it, but your eye is drawn remorcelessly to the three turbines on the hill opposite.

I had noticed that one of them wasn`t moving and mentioned this to Marie. “That`s always happening,” she said. “They send someone out most days to see if they can fix it.”

“Where from?” I asked, thinking of the “local jobs” that are always talked about by wind-farm developers. She didnt know, but it was quite a way away, perhaps Plymouth. I wondered about the C02 emissions the van made as it came over.

Marie showed me my room, a large one with a double bed. When I had put my belongings in there, and changed from my shorts into some joggers, she made me a cup of tea, and I sat with her in a very comfy leather armchair to watch the news."

More photos from the walk, with the text written at the time

From Holsworthy I took the road to Chilworthy and Bradworthy. The road through Chilsworthy was busier, and I had to keep my wits about me. It was more a main road village, and I didn`t take many photos during this part of the walk. Once again I was on a high plateau, with limited views, and poor visibility (low lying cloud.)
  This part of the walk wasn`t so much fun, and I began to feel tired. Up ahead of me a car slowed and several other cars overtook it. I suddenly realised it was Ivan, and his wife Diane, on their way home after leaving my bags at Bradworthy. It was really good to see them. They said they had spotted me in Holsworthy as well. I had about four miles still to go, but only two more before I could turn off onto a quieter road. I kept expecting to see the turbines, but there was a hill in between that obscured them from view. Finally, I breasted the hill and  saw the turbines for the first time, waggling eerily in the mist, like grey wraiths.
I may not like turbines, but I did feel a kind of excitement as I paaroached them. The last mile or so had been rather a drag, and now I had something yto look at I felt less tired. They didn`t seem So big, in the distance, in the mist. I didn`t realise how far away they were still. Several times I had spoken to Marie Hutchings on my mobile - she is the lady who lives closest to the turbines, and she had very kindly offered to put me up while I was in the area. She had told me to take a left turn, and I did that when I reached Instaple Cross. It was  a terrific relief to be off the busy road.
The road I took now was very quiet and narrow, but a car came by. It was Sarah Payne, from Bradworthy, who had come down to Brent Tor. She offered me a lift to Marie`s. I explained that I wanted to walk the whole way, so she drove off. Then of course I wished I`d asked her the directions at the next cross roads, Jenn`s Cross - photo on the right.  Luckily, I took the right road.
Jenns Cross
As I approached, they looked bigger and bigger. Oddly, only two were turning - it isn`t apparent from the photographs obviously,
I passed a couple of cottages and wondered how the people living in them felt, being dominated by these vast structures. The wind was making a roaring noise through the hedgerows and I couldn`t really tell if the turbines were making noise as well as I approached them.
This is the gate to the turbine site. The trees behind the turbines give you some idea of the scale. They are not large by modern standards (about 260ft high I think) but they looked very large to me.
I did hear a swishing sound as I walked by, but couldn`t say it was overloud. It was masked by the general noise of the wind.

I walked on, to the corner of the road, where I believed Marie`s bungalow to be. I have to admit my heart sank as I approached, it had an unkempt look about it, with junk in the yard. I went up to the door, and knocked, then suddenly realised that there were weeds on the step. It was empty and deserted.

That is when I was very glad that I had a mobile with me. Marie answered at once - her house was half a mile further on, down in the valley and then up the next hill.

I had walked about 15 miles, so I was very glad when I arrived at her house at last, to a warm welcome, and an especially welcome cup of tea.  She showed me round her house, and I saw her view, that once had been magnificent, and is now dominated by the three giant turbines. I met her two dogs, Sue and Paris, both Sprocker Spaniels and very sweet.  Sue has had puppies, and Marie had just  moved them out to the barn.
She gave me supper, cod and sweet potatoes and some unusual bottled fruit for desert. She likes to watch soaps, and I was happy to watch them with her, although I probably fell asleep more than once.