Friday evening, 26th April, Sara and I went on the Aune Head Arts Quiet Walk number 1, led by Sound Artist and Naturalist Tony Whitehead, 7.30pm to 10.30pm at Bellever Forest, just a mile south of Postbridge in the middle of Dartmoor. In the evening light we walked and ambled up woodland tracks near the Youth Hostel, taking plenty of time to stop and listen to the sounds of Dartmoor. It was a treat almost right away to hear our first cuckoo of the year in the distance at first, then it flew close by and continued to call. We saw a roe deer very close and heard chaffinches, wrens, blackbirds, greenfinches, sparrows, woodpigeons, songthrushes, goldcrests and other quite ordinary birds - but we really took time to listen and to hear all the calls. Higher up in a clearing we waited and listened for fifteen or twenty minutes for the last of the evening songbirds, and when the air changed as the light faded a songthrush's extraordinary repeated variations were echoed across the valley way into the distance.
Then we walked higher up towards Bellever Tor on the forest track in among a group of about twenty Dartmoor ponies, snorting and munching, tearing at the grass. As it grew really dark we saw the first planets, Saturn and Mars, coming into view, and then the mass of stars. It was very cold when we stopped on a high ridge and saw a red glow in the distance that turned into a red full moon rising over the moor, the colour draining out as it lifted higher in the sky. Then we walked down a steep rocky path by torchlight back to the Bellever Forest car park and drove back through Moretonhampstead and Dunsford to Exmouth. What an amazing experience and great company, thanks to Tony Whitehead and Aune Head Arts.