Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Dartmoor: Around Meldon Reservoir

Black Tor (Okehampton)

I don't visit this area enough. When looking at my tor bagging progress map, I noticed a significant area of orange, or red, meaning unbagged. I wanted to remedy that with a walkout of Meldon Reservoir... with a small diversion.

Parked up at the very good Meldon Reservoir car park, we headed up the large mound known as South Down, immediately leaving the track after the gate to arrive at South Down (north-east), a small area of exposed metamorphic rock first noted by Paul Buck. In fact, Paul is credited for all of the outcrops on this down.

As you ascend the hill to the higher section, the views become even more extensive.

South Down (north-east)

South Down (north-east)

South Down (north-east)

South Down (north-east)

Through some trees, negotiating some ponies and sheep, we made for the summit of the hill. At first sight, the top barely merits a visit for tor baggers, but drop down south-west and you will be faced by a modest wall of rock, crumbled and ruined. The views are awesome.

Ruined rocks north of the summit

South Down (summit)

South Down (summit)
South Down (summit)

We rejoined the track, taking shade under some dense tree cover. We followed the wall below Sourton Tors, over a ford to a small unnamed tor at SX 5535 9001.

South Down line of trees

Gatepost and Corn Ridge

Unnamed outcrop

Unnamed outcrop and parachutist

From here, we got a good view of the forbidden South Down (south-east). Why it is private is down to the footpath below being inaccessible thanks to an access agreement between DNPA (Dartmoor National Park Auhtority) and the landowner ending. 

For the full story, go HERE.

South Down (south-east)

South Down (south-east)

South Down (south-east)
South Down (south-east)

It was a steep albeit short descent to the footbridge over the West Okement River. Choosing to not walk around the east side of Meldon Reservoir, we struck right, uphill, getting the odd glimpse of the 'Island of Rocks'.

This is exactly what you would expect of such a name: an island surrounded on all sides by the river with rocks strewn everywhere.

At this time of the year, the bracken really hinders your viewing so I'll be back in winter for a better look.

Bridge over West Okement at Vellake Corner

West Okement below the Island of Rocks

The Island of Rocks

The Island of Rocks

The Island of Rocks

Noting some clitter high up on the left, following the river was actually quite relaxing, with its cascading water tumbling over the mossy granite. However, this didn't last for long as the track disappeared into a feather bed.

Clitter on the side of Homerton Hill

West Okement River

Beside the West Okement River

Hopping from rock to rock, we got back onto solid ground, with Black-a-Tor Copse minutes' away. Believe it or not, this was my first visit to this ancient oak woodland.

It is also here, at SX 5632 8936, where Black-a-Tor Boulder can be found, a huge lone boulder on the edge of the river, so wonderfully shaped and rounded.

Welcome to Black-a-Tor Copse

Black-a-Tor Copse

Black-a-Tor Boulder

Black-a-Tor Boulder

Black-a-Tor Boulder
Black-a-Tor Boulder

We exited the copse the way we entered, to get onto better ground to begin ascending the huge eminence of Black Tor (Okehampton). For me, this was quite a struggle, probably because of the heat, but we stopped plenty of times to 'take it all in' and we eventually reached the northernmost outcrop. 

Black-a-Tor Copse below Slipper Stones

Black Tor north

Black Tor north

But the tor continued southward, the middle outcrop also a fine one, which possesses great views of the northernmost outcrop but also the southernmost and highest. I must confess we were in a haste to reach the summit, so passed this one with little interest. Black Tor, I'm sorry.

Black Tor middle

Hampster Tor from Black Tor middle

We chose the highest outcrop for lunch, providing awesome views of the valley and Slipper Stones, but also up to Fur Tor and Cut Hill.

Black Tor south

Black Tor south

Black Tor (Okehampton) south

Black Tor south view of Slipper Stones

Black Tor south

Time to head back, reaching the track north to Longstone Hill which from here is a gentle and pleasant stretch of track to walk along.

Longstone Hill

Dilapidated cairn atop Longstone Hill

The track chooses a kind descent to the reservoir where we got a good angle on South Down (spur).

South Down (spur)

Meldon Dam, South Down (north-east) on the left

Meldon Reservoir

Almost at the car park, we turned right through a gate (opposite to the one at the beginning) in order to summit the tor before ending our walk.

South Down (spur)

South Down (spur)

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