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Hope's 60 years on Exmoor was all she had wanted

By This is Devon  |  Posted: September 08, 2010

Hope Bourne

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MISS Hope Bourne, author, artist and legend of Exmoor, has died at the age of 91.

She passed away on August 22, four days short of her 92nd birthday.

She finally ended her days where she wanted to be — at her home in Withypool on the edge of the moor.

She is best known for surviving on next to nothing, eking out a living from the wilds of Exmoor.

Her close friend Maggie Griffiths, of Barnstaple, said: "Hope lived most of her life on Exmoor but the place she loved most was at Ferny Ball, just above Sheldon Water."

It was where she kept a lovely garden, growing vegetables, fruit and flowers. Maggie added: "Her home was a small shepherd's caravan where she felt she could be the person she wanted to be.

"She was very independent, worked hard and walked the moors for her food which she obtained by shooting and fishing."

On Fridays she would visit Withypool Post Office to pick up her mail and any other goods she needed.

Born in Hartland, Hope developed a deep respect for nature and wildlife, and spent 60 years on Exmoor, occupying primitive cottages and later the tiny caravan at Ferny Ball. She survived by growing her own vegetables, drinking from a stream and shooting rabbits and pigeons for meat.

She was well known for her 20-mile walks without a map, using her own innate compass to find her way home. She was also a keen foot follower of the hunt, and once described the activity as "the spirit of Exmoor, the pageant of the countryside".

In an interview with The Telegraph magazine in 1979, she said: "It's a good life but a tough life. You've got to be 100 per cent physically fit to live as I do. You've got to be tough, body and soul."

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