AUTUMN begins officially in three days' time, on Sunday, September 22. Visiting Dartmoor I was glad to see the roadside purple heather.
Rowan trees were clustered with bright scarlet berries, but the valleys had lost their radiant greenery backalong, and the hoofprints of Holwell Farm's cattle were silver with spiders' webs as fine as mist.
Dew lay a little longer in field corners and the peacefulness of that part of the moor was a blessing.
Richard Jefferies was right when he wrote: "The hills purify those who walk on them."
Even a short stroll from the car park to Haytor, or a jaunt on Pork Hill, can being me into the truth of Jefferies' philosophy.
As far as I'm concerned Dartmoor definitely can give something to the spirit throughout the four seasons. And I like to think that a winter dusk in town can make residents look up from a boring task and recall the vision of sunlit tor or downs, while clouds mass over the hills.
What the moor can give us is enough for most visitors; and the same can be said of hills and mountains throughout Britain. Places like the Malvern Hills, the Lake District, Snowdonia and the bens of the Hebridean Island of Mull have provided me with memories which will never fade.
Preservation of solitude means the safe existence of the moor's wildlife and the ponies which run wild. Sitting in the heather I've watched the sheep round-ups. For various reasons these happen season after season. There's the shearing, dipping, vaccinating, tupping, and the market.
The sheepdog trials bring the moorland farming community together in a friendly atmosphere. But I'm a fan of the great open countryside away from the crowds. There the seasons get on with the job basically undisturbed.
A landscape you love is more than just a collection of physical features which strike a chord in the being. Heart-places are therapeutic and lone walking is usually very rewarding, especially at sunrise. But I've also enjoyed the company of relatives, friends and the group I put together called the Herald Hikers.
Yes, Dartmoor remains the Heart of Devon.