During these past months of national lock down, I have been very fortunate to be situated where I am, on the northern tip of Dartmoor National Park, not far from Okehampton. Although we are allowed daily exercise, I have permitted myself one decent hike a week, and usually waking at the crack of dawn to avoid the crowds and to enjoy the birdsong.
At first I kept my permitted walks very local, walking the footpaths around Okehampton itself, and through the Bluebell woodlands beneath Meldon Reservoir, but as the government guidelines began to lift restrictions, at first from the hour a week, and eventually to ‘unlimited exercise’, my walks became a little more ambitious, without taking advantage and flouting my privileges that was.
At first I hiked from my front door up onto the moors, past Okehampton camp and as far as Rowtor and West Mill Tor. There was hard;y another sole in sight, and I felt lucky to be back up on the tors. I looked from West Mill over to the stunning and majestic Yes Tor and its neighbour High Willhays (Dartmoor’s highest Tor), hoping to reach there at some point.
When I did return to do just that a few weeks later, I halted at the foot of the climb and wondered if what I was doing was right. I knew I could get out, but should I? These are worrying times, and although I was sure I wouldn’t see anyone, and would not take any unnecessary risks, it still became a dilemma, and I decided that perhaps I shouldn’t. I decided to take an alternative walk back home via Cullever Steps and an enchanting riverside woodland walk beneath Belstone Tor, still a stunning and length walk, none the less.
This was the Thursday before Boris relaxed limitations once again, and allowed what he referred to as ‘unlimited exercise’. Whilst I still personally believe that to travel too far would be unnecessary, I finally decided that I would make my local walk that little bit longer and finally reach those high tors, so last Sunday, I did just that.
Instead of walking the additional two or three miles to reach the moors from my door, this time I decided that I would drive and park at the foot of Rowtor, shortening my walk and enabling a quicker access to the high moor. Sticking to the tracks, I skirted around the southern edges of both Rowtor and West Mill Tor and made my way over to the southeast side of Yes Tor. It was actually a much more gradual climb to the high moors than my original route would have been.
From up on Yes Tor the views were amazing looking back across the landscape of Devon and Cornwall to the north. Then it was a short walk over to High Willhays and Fordsland ledge for some breathtaking vista’s of some of Dartmoor’s most bleak landscapes to the south. I was really enjoying the walk, and the views and decided that I would carry on to Dinger Tor, and from there I skirted around the ridgeline that snaked down to Lints Tor.
I had visited Lints Tor before, but had taken the straight line from Dinger to Lints, down a horrendous dip in which I rolled my ankle. Now I always try to stick to the tracks as opposed to the straight line between point a and b; it usually the easier route besides looking longer.
Then it was back via the tracks beneath the high tors to my car at Rowtor. A wonderful walk, and really great to finally get a good hike in. If you are interested in having a look at this walk for yourselves, I have uploaded a video on YouTube:
Hope you all are managing to get your outdoors fix, and stay safe, healthy and sane. Together, we can do this Britain. All the best.