Dartmoor

Sketching around the wild, magnificent and romantic Dartmoor. It offers a wealth of subjects and habitats to sketch. With its high, windswept moorland, fast-running rivers, woodland and the granite tors, raising majestically from the landscape.
The Granit was pushed up, under the surface, into the surrounding sedimentary rocks. This taking place during the Carboniferous Period, about 309 million years ago. The sedimentary rocks have weathered away leaving the granite outcrops exposed, as the famous Tors.

I have been coming up to Dartmoor since I was a Scout. Then we were often to be found trying to find our way about and camping on the high moor. Those early experiences left a big impression on me and I love to come back, to roam again across Dartmoor.
Featured sketch above:

Sharp Tor

June 30th ~ Watercolour, A5
Had a very pleasant day. Although I had parked at the popular Dartmeet car park, which was very busy, most people were not walking very far. The above sketch is where I sat to have my lunch, looking towards my next destination – Sharp Tor. As you can see the weather in Devon today was lovely, with just a light breeze. Great for walking.

Pen and watercolour sketch of a Dartmoor Farm

A Dartmoor Farmstead

June 30th ~ Watercolour washes & Pen, A5
This is the same day as the above sketch. Sat on the shoulder of Sharp Tor looking across at a Dartmoor Farm nestled in the trees (Ollisbrim according to the map).

Pre-history

During the late Neolithic and Bronze Age there was a larger population living on Dartmoor. The climate, at the time, was warmer than it is today. With much of what is now moorland covered in woodland. These early settlers cleared the trees to make farming communities.
Dartmoor contains the most intact Bronze Age landscape in the UK. Leaving us many Standing Stones, Stone Rows, Hut Circles and Cists (box-like stone tombs) to find and explore.

Pen sketch of Shovel Downs Stone Row

Shovel Downs Stone Row

February 19th ~ Fineliner, Brush Pen, A5
Walked from Fernworthy Reservoir. We set off, via the dam, for Thornworthy Down, had a spot of lunch crouched out of the wind on top of the Tor. Before heading on towards The Long Stone on Shovel Downs and the stone rows running from it. The Long Stone is an impressive 3m in height, with more modern initials carved into when it that used it as a boundary marker.
This A4 pen sketch (using a medium fineliner pen & a Brush Pen) shows one of the Bronze Age Stone Rows running down Shovel Down. The Stone Rows form a sort of a Y shape with the tail pointing at the Long Stone.

Watercolour and pencil sketch of Fernworthy Woods

The Dark Woods

February 19th ~ Watercolour & a black watercolour pencil, A5
My son and his friend are doing a project about life in the ‘Dark Woods’. So they wanted to come up to Dartmoor’s Ferworthy Reservoir as they remembered there being some good ‘Dark Woods’ there. We were to be found sketching in the trees around the reservoir. This sketch was painted with a base wash of watercolour, then working over the top with a black watercolour pencil. Trying to capture the dark trees with the wintery light behind.

Watercolour sketch of Honeybag Tor.

Cold stroll on Hamel Downs

December 2nd ~ Watercolour, A5
It’s a cold day and we have come up for a cold stroll on Dartmoor from Widecombe up and along Hamel Downs. Our little lad is thrilled to find lots of icy puddles, the ones on the top being able to hold his weight. Only one or two other hardy souls were out and about with us, all equally wrapped up in hats and coats. The above watercolour is Chinkwell and Honeybag Tors from halfway up Hamel Downs.

Watercolour sketch of sunlight on Bagtor Downs, Dartmoor

Bagtor Downs

December 2nd ~ Watercolour and watercolour pencil, A5
Looking across to Bagtor Downs trees with the suns rays streaming through the clouds.
Both the above sketches are A5, on normal 90 lb Daler-Rowney cartridge paper and have suffered a little from the paper ‘cockling’. But I’m not too worried by that and I’ll just squash​ the pad in my pile of sketchbooks to flatten them.

Pen sketch of the River Teign

River Teign

September 17th ~ Brush Pen, A5
After shopping this morning in Exeter, we set off for Steps Bridge at Dunsford, not far into the Dartmoor National Park. It’s a lovely spot here, with the dappled sunlight coming through the trees. With the water rushing along beside us. We had taken a picnic with us and sat on the banks of the Teign to eat it. A couple of dogs bounded past sniffing at our sandwiches! I ended up perched on a rock in the river to do this sketch.

Watercolour and pencil sketch of Hound Tor

Hound Tor

May 7th ~ Watercolour and watercolour pencil, A5
A scorching Bank Holiday Monday – Blimey, you don’t get many of those!
This sketch is from our lunch stop on Chinkwell Tor looking across to Hound Tor. My son is also sat beside me sketching away ‘with his dear old Dad.’
There are Skylarks singing all around us and there is a Cuckoo in the valley below. The first Cuckoo I’ve heard this year – Yay!
We have come up for a walk on Dartmoor, near Widecombe. To the slightly quieter Bonehill Downs, Chinkwell and Honeybag Tors.

Brush and ink sketch of a Wooded Rocky Path

Wooded, Rocky Path

November 24th ~ Dip Pen, brush and a bottle of ink, A4
One of our favourite Dartmoor walks – Lustleigh to Hunter’s Tor. It’s an interesting walk with lots of woods, boulders, fungi (today anyway) and a little bit of moor to explore.
This sketch is where we had our lunch in the steep, boulder-strewn woods below Sharpitor. A very atmospheric place.

Watercolour sketch of a gateway at Hunters Tor, Dartmoor

Gateway at Hunters Tor’

September 9th ~ Watercolour, A4
Above Lustleigh, on Hunter’s Tor, sheltered out of the wind by a clump of gorse. I love the ancient, moss-covered hedges on this walk.

Materials Used

All of these sketches were drawn or painted in a Daler-Rowney Red & Yellow Cartridge Pad. Often sketched out quickly first with a 6B pencil, before adding watercolour or pen. I use a Winsor & Newton travelling watercolour set, with two Round brushes, size 1 & 6. The pens used are a Waterproof Fineliner and a Brush Pen.

© Copyright Nick Watton.
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