Despite this being quite close to roads and therefore one of the busiest walking routes, the Mini Ten Tors is one of my favourite walks on Dartmoor. Its relatively easy for Dartmoor, a pretty well trodden path, mostly dry but with a few steep climbs throughout the day. Throughout the walk you can always see where you are going and where you have been (on a clear day at least). The walk will take you via some of Dartmoor’s most interesting and famous tors.
10 Miles – Moderate
4.5 – 5 hours approx
HAZARDS – STEEP ASCENTS
ROADS TO CROSS
Points of Interest – Haytor, Saddle Tor, Rippon Tor, Hound Tor, Top Tor, Pil Tor, Bonehill Rocks, Bell Tor, Chinkwell Tor, Honeybag Tor, Hound Tor, Hound Tor’s Medieval Settlement, Smallcombe Rocks, Haytor Tramway
You can watch the video of my walk HERE!
This walking route was one that I wish we had found when we attempted Haytor to Hound Tor back in the early days of Summit or Nothing, we would have seen way more tors in the same amount of time and would have avoided the terror of the Fern Forest!
I discovered this walk in Country Walking Magazine and was looking for a decent route that I could take a handful of fellow hikers along with me on as a bit of a charity walk. It was the perfect walking route to explore Dartmoor and take in the glorious views, but without the need for too much navigation (although it is always advisable to take a map and compass with you).
The beginning half of the walk is more densely packed with tors, the latter stages will be a little more distance in between each tor visited. Whether marvelling at the impressive Haytor (from all directions), visiting the inspiration for The Hound Of The Baskervilles (Hound Tor) or taking in the history of the Haytor Tramway, this walk has a little something for everyone.
1. You can start at the main carpark at the bottom of the hill beneath Haytor itself. It is pay and display, but for a reasonable charge that goes back into the up-keep of the National Park.. so all for a good cause, ‘eh?
Make your way up to Haytor to start with. This is a truly impressive tor, that towers above the skyline, and is visible for many miles all around. Take some time to explore up here, you can summit the second outcrop with the help of some iron handrails if you feel adventurous.
2. When you have taken in enough of Haytor, you will then want to head towards Saddle Tor (to the Southwest), following the path that is located on the far side of Haytor itself. Saddle Tor is almost as iconic as Haytor, and has even made the cover of our 2018 calendar.
3.Keeping the same path, you will basically pass straight over Saddle Tor, and head down towards the road, where you will then crossover and head south up to the top of Rippon Tor. This will be the first steep climb of the day, and the path is a little confusing as it weaves through the gorse.
The best thing you can do is look to the hawthorn tree that sits at the wall. There is a gap in the wall right beside it, and this is your best way over.
Now head up to the summit or Rippon Tor, there is a trip point positioned in a cairn at the top. You can pretty much see everywhere you are heading from here, including Hound Tor in the distance to the North.
4. Head northwest now, down towards Hemsworthy Gate (where the main road meets a smaller road), head towards this, passing through the gate and over the cattle grid then take a left and head back up towards Top Tor to the west.
Before you reach Top Tor, you will see a path branching off to your left. Follow this to Pil Tor. We will come back to Top Tor in a short while. Pil Tor is another great tor, with views looking down over Widecombe on the Moor to the west. You can even see Tunhill Rocks just off down the southwestern flank of the hill. Its not too far if you wanted to take that in as well.
5. Now head back along the path you arrived on, and make your way back up to Top Tor. From Top Tor, you can see Bonehill Rocks in the distance, just a little left of North. Head down towards this, following the path, you will cross a road before you reach Bonehill Rocks, and another one directly afterwards.
6. Once you have passed Bonehill Rocks, and the road and stream the other side, you will head up to Bell Tor, and where the path seems to split, keep to the right hand path.
This is the second considerable climb of the day, but once you reach Bell Tor you can relax for a minute and take in the views back down across Bonehill Rocks. For an area so close to the road there is a lot of real beauty here.
7. Beyond Bell Tor, still heading north along the path, you will continue to climb until you reach the cairn at the top of Chinkwell Tor. From here, you can see your next destination across the saddle, but well under a kilometre away from you. This is Honeybag Tor.
8. Continue along the same path, still heading north, and you will drop down into the saddle between Chinkwell and Honeybag. Once you have made it to the top of Honeybag Tor, enjoy the views out over Manaton – you can even see Bowerman’s nose if you look hard enough in a north easterly direction.
9. You head back on yourself now, all the way back to to Bell Tor, and then from here you follow the path east until you reach the road. Follow the road north, over the cattle grid, past the sign for Houndtor Down, past the access for the equestrian centre and eventually you reach the moorland, where you will take the track which leads directly to Hound Tor. This is quite a lengthy stretch between the two tors.
10. Hound Tor next, and this impressive mighty tor is a place of legend, not only the inspiration behind Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story the Hound Of The Baskervilles, but also part of the Bowerman’s Nose legend. The same witch that turned the hunter Bowerman to stone, also turned his hounds to stone too, and Hound Tor is what they became !
Once you have taken a good look around, you will follow the clearest path past down the southeast side of the tor. This will lead you past the impressive remains of a medieval settlement. As you head down into the valley below, over the footbridge and through the woods, with Greator Rocks looming over you, enjoy this tranquil woodland setting, because you are about to embark on the greatest climb of the day.
11. As you break out of the woods into a clearing, you will see the path you want to take heading right, up a daunting steep climb towards Smallcombe Rocks, the last tor of the day. Take a breath up here, you’ve earned it, and enjoy the gulf between you and Hound Tor, and back over to Chinkwell and Honeybag Tor. But don’t get too comfortable as the walk is not over yet.
12. The last stretch of the day will see you heading south towards Haytor via the clearly visible track. On your way you will visit the Haytor Granite Tramway, which was used to transport granite from Haytor down to the Stover Canal. The granite tracks used to guide horse drawn carts.
Continue south and follow the track which will pass the disused quarry and you will eventually make it back beneath Haytor. From here it is pretty straight forward back to your starting place.
If you have enjoyed this route, I would love to hear from you in the comments below, and it would be even better if you would subscribe to our Summit or Nothing YouTube Channel for more amazing walks, hikes and wild camps on Dartmoor and beyond.