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Britannia's Magical History Tour
Stop 12: Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
Dozmary Pool, Cornwall: The place where Sir Bedivere returned Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake
Ever hear about the "Beast of Bodmin Moor?" A few years back, a black leopard escaped from a local zoo and took refuge somewhere on Bodmin Moor.There were frequent sitings (turns out there were 26 leopards on the loose) and some people were becoming concerned for their safety and that of their livestock.

From the stories we'd read, it seemed like an interesting animal story was being inflated by the press into a Loch Ness Monster equivalent. In any case, our curiosity was aroused, and we decided to see for ourselves. We did our homework: we watched the old Sherlock Holmes film, "Hound of the Baskervilles", where Basil Rathbone chases a phosphorescent dog across Dartmoor, in the neighboring county of Devon. We saw the new Sherlock Holmes film, "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot", where Jeremy Brett solves a mystery on Bodmin Moor's southeastern side.

We knew what the moors were like, and we were prepared. We were anxious to plunge into the dreary, trackless wastes, to brave the sucking ooze and the impenetrable mists, and if we must, even to come face to face with the Beast, itself (themselves?). We went ahead. We sneered at fear. We pressed onward.

We realized that the quickest way to cross Bodmin Moor is on the A30 with its four lanes of perfect, high-speed roadway (alot less sucking ooze to worry about, as well). About halfway across the moor, we detoured to see Jamaica Inn, an eighteenth century smuggler's hideout, made famous by Daphne Du Maurier in her 1936 novel, and in a 1980's film of the same name starring Jane Seymour.

Of interest to Arthurian legend fans, just about a mile away from Jamaica Inn lies Dozmary Pool (photo at top). This place reinforced everything we always thought about the moors. It is desolation itself, a few acres of still water, surrounded by low, brown, treeless hills.Some legends say it is here that Sir Bedivere, after being commanded to do so three times by the wounded and presumably dying King Arthur, threw Excalibur into the pool to be received by the Lady of the Lake, who had given the sword to Arthur in the first place. Legend also used to say that Dozmary pool was bottomless - until the drought of 1976 came along, and dried it up. Turned out that it had a bottom all along. It's so hard, these days, to know which legends to trust.

Oh, about the Beast of Bodmin Moor. The only beasts we saw were the wild moor ponies that graze on the vegetation, there. Definitely not the next Loch Ness Monster.

Next stop: Cadbury Castle, Somerset

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