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Dartmoor - High Willhays and Yes Tor

Dartmoor - High Willhays and Yes Tor


Postby clivegrif » Tue Dec 10, 2013 9:18 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: High Willhays

Date walked: 08/12/2013

Time taken: 2

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 380m

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Dartmoor.
The very name evokes bleak desolation.

Dartmoor in December? It could only be bleak, but with cold, wet and foggy thrown in.
So it was on my fleeting visit to the most southerly HEWITT, High Willhays. The highest point on Dartmoor just scrapes into the HEWITT list at 621 metres high and it has the added advantage of being close to the northerly edge of Dartmoor, just south of Oakhampton. It may only be a short distance, but this place is a world away from the warm beaches of South Devon.

My path started early at the large car park near Melden Reservoir, with its impressive dam, and I would imagine the view along the lake to the surrounding hills would be rather splendid on a decent day.
From the dam it was sharply up to pick up a track that curved round and up Longstone Hill.

Best view of the day sm.jpg

The view across to Oakhampton Common and to West Mill Tor high up on the horizon was to prove to be the best of the day, as the cloud was starting to descend.
Here we go... sm.jpg

I had seen the weather forecast for the area, and it promised wall to wall sunshine due to the high pressure. However, with the airflow coming straight off the Atlantic there was no way that was going to happen, and as I walked towards the gathering gloom that good ol’ Cockney phrase came to mind – ‘They are having a Giraffe….’
The track ran out, and the compass & GPS were pointing up into the cloud over pathless scrubby moorland. I noticed a line of red and white poles with what looked like Health & Safety signs attached.
It gets better... sm.jpg

‘Don’t touch anything, it might explode’. Hmmm… Another little issue with High Willhays and the neighbouring Yes Tor is that both are well inside the Oakhampton military firing range, and access is definitely restricted when the flags are flying.

The way steepens over rough grass with the occasional boggy patch, before finally reaching the flat high moor. Up here, with visibility down to only a few yards you could really be anywhere…. But perhaps not. It may just be the mind playing tricks, but this place does have a different atmosphere. The famous tors reveal themselves as weird shapes that appear out of the gloom. Is that a faint low growl or just the wind? Did you catch a movement out of the corner of your eye? You half expect a giant black dog with fiery eyes and slavering jaws to burst out of the mist. (For younger viewers who don't know what I am on about - the Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles was set on Dartmoor, and it featured the legend of a supernatural hound from hell).
Murky tor sm.jpg

On reaching the cairn of High Willhays perched on its low Tor, the wind picks up and it begins to rain. No place to hang around on a day like this.
High Willhays in the fog sm.jpg

There appears to be an ancient track running along the highest part of the moor towards Yes Tor, but it does peter out. The ground is good and firm and it is possible to make good progress.
Yes Tor is altogether a much more impressive granite outcrop with a whole array of rock formations and boulders. The top is marked by a Trig point, and an aerial. Hidden amongst the rocks is a question sheet wrapped in plastic, clearly part of some military training exercise. Below the tor are a couple of shelters, presumably a port for squaddies caught in a storm.
Yes Tor sm.jpg

The way down is quite steep and surprisingly boulder strewn, and the cold rain is coming down with a vengeance. It seems like an eternity before I come across the line of red and white poles, and then finally back on the solid ground of the track. The cloud is well down as the reservoir comes back into view.
As I cross the dam I come across the first people I was to see that day, a couple of cheery dog-walkers. The car park is filling up, and the sun bursts through the cloud. It looks like it is going to be a lovely day…….
Last edited by clivegrif on Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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clivegrif
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Location: Worcester

Re: Dartmoor - High Willhays and Yes Tor

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:56 am

Really enjoyed the report Clive, sometimes the early bird doesn't get the worm :wink:
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johnkaysleftleg
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Location: County Durham

Re: Dartmoor - High Willhays and Yes Tor

Postby clivegrif » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:18 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:sometimes the early bird doesn't get the worm :wink:


Indeed - don't you just love those 'Doh!' moments....
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clivegrif
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Posts: 1451
Munros:282   Corbetts:36
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Location: Worcester

Re: Dartmoor - High Willhays and Yes Tor

Postby Circles » Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:45 pm

I did this in Feb last year on the way back from Cornwall and similar experience although sleet and snow straight into my face...a very creepy place when walking by yourself and def requiring back to basics nav
It was really a nice feeling when you came out of the clag...it just has a heavy feeling in teh clag there :shock:
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Circles
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Re: Dartmoor - High Willhays and Yes Tor

Postby ChrisW » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:42 pm

Great stuff Clive, really enjoyable. You know Dartmoor wouldn't be the same without a bit of fog/drizzle....it's atmospheric :shock: .... :lol:
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Re: Dartmoor - High Willhays and Yes Tor

Postby clivegrif » Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:32 pm

Cheers guys - don't know what it is about the place - but its definitely :shock: !
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clivegrif
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Posts: 1451
Munros:282   Corbetts:36
Grahams:12   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:193
Wainwrights:50   
Joined: Nov 28, 2010
Location: Worcester

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