In Praise of Devon’s Dingly Delliness

February 24, 2017

Vicki Gardner

 I’ve been inspired to write this blog post by a tweet that popped up in my twitter feed (@vickigphoto & @gardnerandhill) a few days ago by @RachelBurch2 where she posts some pictures of mossy trees with the tweet, ‘One of the reason I love #Dartmoor is its extreme mossiness. Extreme mossiness is good.’ That resonated with me; extreme mossiness is indeed good and it makes Devon such a delightfully green and fluffy place to live. It made me think of all the little dingley dells to be found down here; drive down any Devon lane and it’s bound to lead you through some verdant, green, mossy laden dingley delliness at some point.

When I mentioned to some friends today that I might write my blog post on Devon’s Dingley Delliness, they hadn’t heard of Dingley Dell’s. It’s been a phrase for as long as I can remember that for me describes lush, wooded, green, mossy valleys – places where the faeries live. So it set me wondering, what is a Dingley Dell and where did the phrase come from? So, I’ve googled it…a dingle is a small, wooded valley or dell…a dell is a small, secluded wooded valley or hollow so there you have it – exactly what I’ve always thought it was but without ever knowing, if you know what I mean? Dickens made it more famous in his Pickwick Papers when he called the local village ‘Dingley Dell’ and makes reference in the book to, ‘its homely, peaceful atmosphere and the “quiet seclusion” of its grounds.

There are some serious places if you really want to venture into Devon’s dingley dell’s, the most obvious ones are the 3 pockets of ancient woodlands on Dartnoor – pockets of pedunculate oaks with gnarled, twisted, low growing trees dripping in mosses, liverworts and lichens. They are truly magical places to visit and my heart breaks because there are only these three tiny pockets left at Wistmans Wood, Black-a-Tor Copse and Piles Copse; places where gnomes still live and the faeries roam at twilight.

 Aside from these gems there are so many hidden valleys and dells in Devon, places that come in to their own from now on with snowdrops gently nodding their heads, primroses dotting every bank, early blossoms grace the skies and crocuses and daffodils provide brilliant colour as we near the end of the gloomy short days. Then comes May, the trees burst into life down here, with greens that fill my heart with joy. The sight of birch and beech trees with their vivid fresh green leaves in dappled sunlight is something I shall never tire of.

So, if you’re in need of a pick me up, take a drive or a walk down some deep Devon lanes; go explore and I guarantee you’ll come across some gorgeous Devon Dingley Delliness somewhere!

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