One of Dartmoor’s oldest and best-known tales, of Childe the Hunter crawling into his horse’s belly to try to save himself when caught in a moorland blizzard, is probably based on a true incident of the 11th century AD! Hundreds of travellers since then have experienced the worst that Dartmoor’s winters can bring, often ending in tragedy, but occasionally rescue.
A much-loved story is that of the ‘salted’ corpse found in an old chest by a terrified traveller staying at Dartmoor’s remotest inn, who turned out be ‘feyther’ who hadn’t been buried because of the snow!
Within living memory, the winters of early 1947 and 1962-3 are specially remembered for their ferocity and for their impact on people and animals, the latter suffering dreadfully.
The Great Blizzard of 1891 is renowned for the marooning of the Princetown train in a huge snowdrift for 36 hours (two nights!), with eight passengers aboard, only a short distance from a farm. The incident is enhanced by the survival of contemporary photographs. Other heroic efforts to keep trains running, or to dig them from mountainous drifts in 1947 or 1962-3, are now all part of local folklore.
Snow Stories on the Dartmoor Resource website will give you the background to all these tales, and much more, so that you can relive and explore moments when Dartmoor has become truly Arctic.