Page:A Book of Dartmoor.djvu/327

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.



and surprised at their movements and excitement, observed them closely, and discovered that they were having a glut of daddy longlegs. The light and friable peat earth exactly suits the wireworm in its early stages, and when the pest emerged from the soil full blown, then the rooks were down on him before he could come to our gardens and turnip fields to devastate them.

The one deficiency in the soil on Dartmoor is lime. That will sweeten the grass and enable the cattle to thrive. Bullocks and other cattle will do on the moor, but they really need a change to land on lime whilst they are growing. The roots of the grass and heather are ravenous after lime, and for this reason it is that of the many interments on the moor hardly a particle of bone remains.

From Post Bridge starts the Lych Way, the Road of the Dead, along which corpses were conveyed to Lydford, the parish church, until, in 1260, Bishop Bronescombe gave licence to the inhabitants of Dartmoor, who lived nearer to Widdecombe than to Lydford, to resort thither for baptisms and funerals.

The Lych Way may be traced from Conies Down Tor to Whitabarrow; thence it strikes for Hill Bridge, and so across the spur of Black Down to Lydford church.

When I was a boy I heard strange tales of the Lych Way—and of funerals being seen passing over it of moonlight nights. But superstition is dead now on Dartmoor, as elsewhere, and ghosts as well as pixies have been banished, not as the old moormen