Living to the south of Dartmoor I don’t make it onto the north moor as often as I would like however it looked like a good day to get up there. The weather was forecast to be fine, there was no firing on Okehampton range and we were under no time pressures to get back home. We parked the car at Belstone village and then followed the track out on to the moors. Often we tend to walk up along the Belstone tors and then head east so the plan this time was to head the other way. It has been a few years since I’ve been to Yes Tor and High Willhays – High Willhays is the highest point on Dartmoor – and I would usually walk in from Okehampton end. Belstone is a shorter drive and we decided to use our legs to get to Yes Tor from there.
Crossing the East Ockment at Culliver Steps you get this pleasant view looking towards the valley of the Black-a-ven brook. Directly ahead is the Black-a-ven brook and, for the north moors, it is a wonderfully tranquil scene particularly on such a sunny day. The track towards Yes Tor heads up from here on the right hand side of the brook.
The path, when there is one, steadily rises from here. Climbing quite steeply we got to the top of West Mill Tor and could look over at our destination, Yes Tor. Yes Tor itself is central in the image above with High Willhays on the same ridge to the left. High Willhays (the highest point on the moors and the highest in the UK south of the Brecon Beacons) is a matter of two metres higher than Yes Tor however from most perspectives the difference in height is not at all clear.
Because of the height of the Yes Tor/High Willhays ridge there are excellent views. In particular you can see the Bristol Channel and the north Cornish coast on a good day and this was one of them. The left hand image looks roughly west towards the north Cornish coast. The right hand image taken from the High Willhays end of the ridge looks towards the centre of the north moor with the small “shark’s fin” (slightly left in the image) actually being the top of Fur Tor one of the more remote Dartmoor tors. To the right of centre is the large bulk of Great Mis Tor which is quite close to Princetown in the centre of the moor.
The two photos above are both taken from Yes Tor basically looking south.The left hand one shows High Willhays in the main. The right hand image again shows High Willhays however it also shows Great Links Tor on the western edge of the moors. We left the ridge towards the southern end and heading roughly east in order to start the return towards Belstone.
Stopping briefly for a break on East Mill Tor I took the two images above. The image on the right looks back on the Yes Tor/High Willhays ridge. Again there is the illusion that Yes Tor (on the right hand end) is higher than High Willhays on the left. The right hand photo looks down the valley of the East Ockment toward Belstone with Belstone tors in the centre of the picture.
Heading back we walked down the valley of the Black-a-van brook for a while and the photograph above is taken looking down the brook where it swings right to join the East Ockment. Once again Belstone tors are on the ridge in the distance. It was good to get out on the north moor and particularly in such good weather. Hopefully this summer will bring far more opportunity for walks than last year did.