Sourton Tors To High Willhays

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MAY 2016

West Okement, Black-a-tor-copse and Black Tor
The Dartmoor 365 Squares you will pass through with this walk

This 7mile walk takes in the Okehampton Range, so it would be wise to find out whether or not any military exercises are taking place on the day you choose to participate in this walk. It also involves a river crossing so best to not consider this walk during any particularly wet seasons.

It takes in 3 of the Dartmoor 365 (get your copy of the book here ) – D5, D6, D7.

The following walk is about 7 miles long, and includes a great deal of, what we like to call, UP! Once again, let me reiterate the importance of being prepared on the Moors, as it easy to lose your bearings, especially in bad weather, so always take an OS Map and compass.

1. We arrive at Sourton, near Okehampton, and situated on the A386 and parked in the Church of St Thomas a Becket car park (opposite the bizarre looking pub, the Highwayman). You can see Sourton Tors reaching up behind the trees at the back of the car park. Walk towards it, following the footpath up a steady incline until you reach the gate of the moors.

Here we will traverse around the bottom of the Sourton Tor, venturing to the left-hand side, heading North East. Its a steady climb, but not so strenuous as it would be to climb Sourton straight off.  

Nath traversing Sourton Tors

We see Meldon Reservoir in the distance to your left, and the West Okemont River in the valley just before it. We make our way to the next large granite stones, which is Shelstone Tor.

2. SE from here, you will see in the distance a cluster of trees on the opposite side of the river, and a Tor above it (Black Tor). This is the nature reserve known as Black-a-tor Copse, one of Dartmoor’s famous stunted oak trees, covered in Lichen and moss, and growing amidst the granite clitter. We head downhill towards this and find a safe passage to cross the river.

3. The next part of our journey is going to be the biggest climb of the day, so we stop here for refuelling before we begin the walk and scramble up to the top of Black Tor. It is a big climb, but only start.

Contemplating our next UP

From here on, you will be setting off once again up, ESE this time towards High Willhays and across featureless moorland, heading through the Range Markers and into the Okehampton Range military training ground so be sure to check before you leave if there are any live training activities taking place.

The walk to High Willhays is a long one, and arduous, one and a half kilometres and a climb of 140m from Black Tor, yet the views from up there more than make up for the effort to get there, in fact, you will surely forget the climb once you take in the views.

Then a somewhat leisurely stroll from High Willhays, going North across to Yes Tor along a well-trodden path. You can not miss Yes Tor, although not quite as high as High Willhays, it seems much more impressive, and it is. Once again, the views are awesome.

After another quick bite in the shelter of Yes Tor’s rocks, before setting off on the long walk home.

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

4. Head West, back down towards the West Oakmont River, keeping Black Tor and Black a Tor Copse to your left. We found the ground was quite wet, and this was early summer, after a dry spell too.  

Once we crossed the river we make our way West, up the right hand side of Corn Ridge, and another lengthy climb that eventually brings us up to the we South side of Sourton Tor.

5. From here, its one last scramble down the tor, and back to the car park.  

You can watch the full video of this very walk below – it’s also my very first walk on Dartmoor!

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