Philip and Sarah Reeve had discovered a new, shorter way to get to Watern Tor, and took us there, where for the first time I got to see the original Thurlestone, the name of which inspired the villainous rambling isle in our first book together, Oliver and the Seawigs. (The name's listed in 'the Perambulation of 1240', which you can read about here.)
One of the coolest things about Dartmoor are the tors, the grouping of enormous rocks at the top of hills, like some sort of giants' modern art gallery. The only thing is that up there it can be VERY WINDY.
We stayed for six days and went on a hike almost every day, so we got to see Dartmoor looking very different as the light shifted and clouds and fog did weird and wonderful things. I'm going to post lots of photos here, mostly for myself, so I can go back later and remember what we got up to. (But come along for the ride if you like!)
Here are our fabulous hosts Sarah and Philip Reeve, a big cheer for them. They're very good about knowing just when to break out flasks of coffee and mince pies. :)
On the first day, the landscape looked so in keeping with Mortal Engines that it made me laugh and I had to take a few photos of Philip looking heroic in his dystopian wasteland.
Oh, did I mention that there's a Peter Jackson film of it coming out for next Christmas? (Not that I am EXCITED or anything...) Here's Philip's blog about where to begin if you want to do some catch-up reading before you see the movie.
Dartmoor very much inspires Philip's books and you can catch glimpses of them all over the landscape. It also makes for good panorama shots.
Oh look, another panorama shot of Stuart, up on Bellever Tor.
Cool stone circles, too. You don't have to buy tickets like you do for Stonehenge.
Another moody Mortal Engines shot:
Here's when it all just went silly and the woods started looking like Lord of the Rings.
Here are Philip and Frodo doing their best Lothlorian elf impressions.
Snap those author photos while you can.
Shark vs Pudding: the two Sarahs looking elegant and sophisticated in our outdoor attire.
We did cosy indoor things, too. Here's Sam in front of the Christmas Day wreckage. (Frodo loves ravaging wrapping paper more than anything.)
And a visit from two of my favourite Devon folk, actors Nick Pegg and Barnaby Edwards! (You might know them as Daleks in Doctor Who.)
Barnaby recently recorded an audiobook of Mortal Engines, and I'd listened to it; it's very good. (Available at all good audiobook retailers, or here.)
Another local person we got to see was one I'd never met, the excellent illustrator David Wyatt, who created the covers for the Fever Crumb trilogy (prequels in the Mortal Engines world).
Here's David's original cut-away Fever Crumb cover, but Scholastic have reissued them with his new artwork, which ties in more with the look of the Mortal Engines quartet. My favourite of David's illustrations for for the Larklight trilogy; if you haven't read those yet, they are fascinatingly clever and wonderful.
More Christmas pics... here's Stuart and morning croissants on Christmas Day:
Philip's dad is very artistic and painted this landscape as a gift for him:
Here's Sarah with the Christmas PUD:
And their friend Jane, who brought along her new mandolin, so we were able to have a Christmas sing-song.
More landscape shots: we were very lucky with this one as the whole place was swathed in thick fog about ten minutes later.
Hikers! Philip, Sarah, Philip's sister Marianne, Stuart, and Marianne's partner Howard:
Here's Sarah photographing some of that strange mist I was telling you about:
I love the sepia colour palette of wintry moor.
Here's the Dartmoor Poodlesnake, which we were lucky enough to see as it's usually hibernating this time of year.
Sam needed to take photos of ruins for a school project, so we found some ruins.
Here's that dusting of snow, on Bellever Tor:
Sarah photographing icicles. (Follow her on Instagram as @moorland - she takes amazing Dartmoor photos.)
Co-authors of the Frozen North:
This year Philip acted in the local panto, and we went to visit one of his friends from it, Rose Underhill. Here's the amazing old farming house she lives in with her big family.
That house has so many layers of history; it was wonderful poking about and seeing bits and bobs from generations of people who have lived there.
Here's a quick portrait I drew of her daughter, who's a fan of Philip's books and our Reeve & McIntyre books.
Look at me being all USEFUL about the place. (via Philip's instagram, @thesolitarybee)
And back inside the cosy house. We spent a lot of time around this table and miss it already.