Okehampton Camp to High Willhays

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The Dartmoor 365 squares you pass through in this walk

This strenuous 12km circular walk on Dartmoor’s north moor, takes in the highest point (High Willhays) once again as well as a selection of fantastic Tor’s (West Mill Tor, Yes Tor and Rowtor) and views of Meldon Resrvoir. Sent to us by Andrew Ross, a viewer of our channel, this walk was a great day on Dartmoor. 

This walk was taken by us to commemorate our 1st Birthday as Summit or Nothing, and was almost a year to the day since we had first visited High Willhays. 

This walk takes in squares B8, C7, C8, D7, and D8 of John Haywood’s Dartmoor 365. 

There aren’t many rivers to cross here, but it is still worth remembering that the water levels rise dramatically on Dartmoor so be sensible when Hiking after a lot of rainfall. And always take an OS map and Compass when you go out on the moors. 

Thanks to Rob Haywood and Dartmoor365.org for this new and improved map. Buy your own copy of the second edition of John Haywood’s Dartmoor 365 here.

Leaving Yes Tor

I will include the instructions as Andrew Ross has written them, but will comment on our own walk throughout. You can watch this walk and wild camp here!

Anyway, using OS28, here we go. Being a country bumpkin, I don’t normally waste my time with grid references and simply read the map, but the starting grid is 9258.

1. Park near Okehampton Camp – people use the road, by the Camp, before the Ford.

2. Once parked up, cross the Ford, immediately turn right and head onto Black Down. As you’ll note, this is a deadly dull part of Dartmoor, however, the scenery quickly changes.

Our day started under a grey cloud, and with a threat of a downpour looming over us. But as the walk progressed the clouds soon blew themselves out, and we were blessed with some blue sky.

Meldon Reservoir

3. Head towards the R of the Red-a-ven Brook on your map. You may want to spend a few minutes exploring here and taking some photos. If I remember correctly, there is a mineshaft there. A very odd area – beautiful until you turn and look in the direction of the quarry!

4. Next skirt around Longstone and Homerton Hill (or spend some time on them if you want to photograph Meldon Reservoir) and head towards Black Tor.

We didn’t find the quarry, nor the mine shaft but as we began to peer over Longstone hill the views opened up. As well as Meldon Reservoir, the views across to Sourton Tors, and the Okehampton Railways Viaduct spanning the valley below were spectacular.

5. I always spend some time at Black Tor. The valley is very photogenic. At this point you can head to Lints Tor, but to keep this walk in order, head towards High Willhays, by walking via Fordlands Ledge. This area can be surprisingly boggy, particularly on the higher ground after it has rained.

We had visited Black Tor previously so we just chose to walk beside Black-a-Tor Copse and then scrambled up the rocks on the far side, before the laborious 1km climb across the tussocks to Dartmoor’s highest point. Whilst here it’s worth considering that you are the highest person South of the Brecon Beacon’s at this point.

the stunted oak wood of black-a-tor-copse is a place of special scientific interest on Dartmoor
Black-a-tor copse, a stunted Oak nature reserve

6. From High Willhays, you can head to Yes Tor. I then go down into the valley and up West Mill Tor. This valley is also boggy, as you would expect with a stream in it! Every Summer I watch tourists whining about getting their wet feet here!

7. From West Mill I recommend that you head to the military firing range miniature railway loop – see Ray Mears’ programme about Dartmoor, I’ll send you a link in a moment. I walk directly to it, but until you know this area well take care, as it is deceptively boggy – you will do a lot of cotton grass hopping here!

The panoramic views from High Willhays are absolutely stunning, and although High Willhay’s is the highest point, its neighbor Yes Tor is a far more impressive Tor. On our walk, we ventured over to West Mill Tor and found an ideal wild camping site by a stream on the Eastern side. It was my first night out in the Vango Banshee 200 low profile backpacking tent.

After Nathan had his first of many appalling nights out on the moor, I visited the military firing railway without him in the morning, accompanied by Moby the Dog.

Nath about to scramble up West Mill Tor

8. From the railway, head toward Rowtor, via the firing range.

9. From Rowtor it is a short walk back to the car, or roughly a mile to Okehampton Station. Like I said, this is a pleasant afternoon walk/hike that has great potential for a long hike. If you are going to go camping in this area, I would suggest that you use the car park by New Bridge (9059).

When I visited Rowtor in the morning, I was spoilt by some fantastic early morning cloud inversions, which you can see on the full length video of this walk.  It was a great walk, and in the early summer, was the perfect time to visit this area. Thanks Andrew for this walk.

If you have any hiking routes that you would like to recommend to us, be it on Dartmoor or anywhere else, then please send them to info@summitornothing.co.uk 

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