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December 2017: A West Country Christmas – Dorset in December

Thomas Hardy’s celebration of Christmas in Dorset in his early novel Under the Greenwood Tree is perhaps second only to A Christmas Carol (a version ...More
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Bowermans Nose, Devon

The strange granite tor known as Bowerman’s Nose lies near the Dartmoor village of Manaton , with the larger settlements of North Bovey , Lustleigh and Haytor Vale forming a semi-circle to its eastern side. Such an odd looking and standing more than 6m tall such a large feature naturally has a legend attached to it.
Back perhaps a thousand years a great hunter lived in the area: Bowerman. He was powerfully-built, fearless, and mad about hunting with his famous pack of equally sizeable hounds. The beasts he caught with them were for his pot and fed his neighbours too, which made him well-loved. Many of those neighbours lived in fear of the witches who met on the moor, but not the hunter.
His attitude began to reduce the power of the witches over the local peasants, one black mark against him as far as the hags were concerned. Another and much worse came when a hare he was chasing raced through a circled coven, swiftly followed by dogs and man. Bowerman was foolish enough to shout an insult as he sped through, upsetting their cauldron. The enraged women hatched a plan.
Next day Bowerman went out again. He quickly spotted a hare, and gave chase. The hunt lasted hours, the hare darting through rocks and bogs with supernatural ease to keep ahead of the hounds. And so it was – the hare was a changeling witch. When the hunters were utterly exhausted they rounded a rock and encountered the coven. As one the witches screeched a curse upon Bowerman. He turned to stone as a giant pillar atop Hayne Down, his face still easy to make out. The dogs managed to run a short distance before they too were petrified forever on Hound Tor .

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Patience, that blending of moral courage with physical timidity. - Thomas Hardy
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