For centuries Cranmere Pool has been a Mecca for Dartmoor walkers and for those who do not know what to expect it can be something of a disappointment. But if the actual features of the pool are ignored and one views the surrounding landscape one can experience the true sense of Dartmoor’s remoteness and solitude. Within a radius of about half a mile of the pool you have the sources of three main Devonshire rivers: the West Okement, Taw and East Dart. It is always amazing to see a steady trickle of water oozing out of the peat and then to think of the wide river mouths further on down the county.
For many, many years walkers have used the military road to gain access to Cranmere Pool, by parking at OP15 it will save a good few miles of trudging. Now the Duchy of Cornwall are going to close the road to all traffic which will mean an extra 8 or so miles of walking for anyone wishing to visit Cranmere. I say the Duchy are going to close the road but it seems that they are taking the full blame for this, the Dartmoor National Park Authority and the Dartmoor Preservation Society are both in total agreement with this plan. This is fine for the fit and able hiker but what about those less fortunate? There are many people that regularly visit Cranmere Pool who simply will not be able to cope with the extra distance which effectively means it is no off limits to them.
I met a man a Devon man,
He asked me. “Whither bound?”
I answered, “Where three rivers spring
On Dartmoor’s rocky ground,
Where the moorland breezes freshly blow,
Over heather, bogs, and brambles,
All the way to Cranmere Pool.”
Why, what is there at Cranmere Pool,
When you get there, to see?
A rough, wild scene, a tiny pool,
And whortleberries, maybe,
An old and shabby letter-box.
Where a message you may send
To distant friends, but that is all
You’ll find out there, my friend.”
But nothing daunted, off I set
That tiny pool to find ;
And soon the moorland stretched ahead,
The town lat far behind ;
The Western Okement is a safe,
though not the smoothest guide ;
And so by rough and thorny ways
I wandered by its side.
How wild the moorland scene, through which
The Okement shaped its course ;
More wild with every mile which brought
Me nearer to its source ;
A restful sense of solitude,
O’er hill and lofty tor ;
At every turn some beauteous scene
I ne’er had seen before.
|And so at length to Cranmere Pool !
Not much perhaps, to see,
But as I gazed a vision fair
Was mirrored there for me.
I saw the Dart so broad and deep,
The boats which slowly glide
Through the lovely panorama
On the shore at either side.
The silvery Okement, where it glides
O’er rough and stony ground,
It’s rippling music ever makes
A sweet, familiar sound.
Came the memory of Belstone
On a glorious summer day
And the rushing Taw beside it,
Flowing swiftly on its way.
I met again that Devon man,
He asked me, “Did you go
To where the rivers have their source,
And the moorland breezes blow ;
Where all is peace and quietness,
And the summer air is cool ;
Over heather, bogs and brambles,
All the way to Cranmere Pool?”
Then I tried to tell him something
Of the beauties I had seen,
Of the vivid, strong impressions
Left upon me by the scene ;
But he answered very loftily
“To you it may seem grand,
But such beauty’s very common
In our lovely western land.”
M. Davidson – 1907