Thursday 3 October 2019

Dartmoor: Callisham Tor, Claig Tor and Burra Tor

Burra Tor

This short walk to Callisham Tor had been planned for quite a while now... at least a month prior to when Dad and I actually did it, and I thought it would be a perfect way for me to get back into blogging as I enjoyed the tors so much, the area in fact. Now some of you may know that I'm a student, still, and I'm starting my A-levels, and this does eat up a fair chunk of my free time and motivation to blog. But here I am, back at it again, trying my hardest not to neglect this blog again!

The day started off in Meavy, where there is space for a few cars if you park respectfully along the side of the road. I tried not to look too much at the village itself, as I would return on this walk to explore it thoroughly!

Lower Meavy Bridge, my first 'Dartefact' of the day, was a short stroll away, on the road, and I also spotted a couple of fine gateposts.

Lower Meavy Bridge (part of)

Two gateposts

Two gateposts

The path which ascended gently had plenty to see, including an array of vibrant colours: greens, browns and even pinks. It passed through, or rather alongside, a field to reach a small clapper bridge beside a ford, the latter of which I decided to leave for later. Yes, this is a linear walk.

Beautiful colours

Callisham footbridge

The path ascended further and immediately after a stile options were available: continue on the main path or take a less defined path which veers off right? Well, in true Max Piper style I ignored all this and accidentally continued. I say 'accidentally' as it was heading the wrong way, but we were in no rush, and after passing a tree feller it was agreed that we would return the way we were meant to go in the first place. Sorted!

New stile SX 54181 66450

On the road, we made a right to go in search of an OS benchmark on the north side of Callisham Down, at SX 53953 66524 - but, as expected, it did not exist, and if it does it's buried under dense vegetation. Here's the proof that it once existed: National Library of Scotland.

Where's this B.M.?

Where's this B.M.?

A little further on we turned left, through a gate, to begin our short but steep ascent up to Callisham Tor. The views opened up as we rose and I was blown away by them. Cox Tor and Sheeps Tor are so dominating from this side of the moor.

Whilst many people say that Callisham Tor, which is on private land, is only visible from the public footpath near a stile, and you're correct, but I couldn't satisfy myself with a somewhat dull view of the tor from afar; I needed to get closer if possible.

Dad suggested we climb the stile to see if there's a gate at the top - and there is! I saw no markings on the gate to suggest it was out of bounds to the public and it was open, so I just wandered through it to reach the rather fine Callisham Tor whilst Dad stayed at the gate on lookout. Note no damage was caused, nor did I invade anyone's privacy. It seems to me that this tor is unkempt and I see no reason for it to be out of bounds to the public. All I did to safely arrive there was step over low barbed wire; even a path lead me to it, suggesting others do the same thing?

Callisham Tor top

I was rather pleased to have gone that extra mile to bag it properly, and I admired its rather modest outcrop with great views over to Great Mis Tor and Peek Hill Tor.

Callisham Tor

Callisham Tor

Callisham Tor

I returned the way I came and we headed back down the hill, noticing a redundant trough adjacent to a more modern one at SX 53772 66404, which, of course, is a Dartefact!

An abandoned trough with the replacement behind


The descent northward was just as difficult as going the other way round, but it didn't take long and before we knew it we were at the bottom. Straight across the road, a footpath sign marks the way we should've come, and were now heading. It soon joined the 'main track' just outside of Callisham Farm, before the stile and the ford and, thus, the footbridge. BTW, I got stung and it hurt! 😂

Callisham ford

Callisham ford

Back in Meavy, it became apparent how picturesque it was, a truly stunning village in the middle of nowhere. The question I was pondering was where do I start? The church might be a good starting point as it houses Eric Hemery's Grave. I've wanted to visit his final resting place for some time now, to pay my respects to one of Dartmoor's most influential enthusiasts and authors. He wrote several books about the area, including the much-loved and sought-after 'High Dartmoor'. He is an inspiration to us all.

If you wish to visit his grave you can find it at SX 54044 67244 - but please be respectful.

Eric Hemery's Grave

Eric Hemery's Grave

Eric Hemery's Grave

Right, onto the rest of the village: there is so much to see, and I could go on for days just posting photos of it all, but I must be ruthless, so below are the best ones. All of the features are on Dartefacts:

Meavy Church

One of the Meavy Church Crosses

Meavy Post Box

Meavy Village Cross

The Meavy Oak Tree

The Royal Oak Inn

Meavy Village Hall
Meavy Village Green

Meavy Memorial

After exploring this quaint village, we went into the rather cramped Royal Oak Inn where we had a rather poor meal, but don't fear, it was busy so I'll let them off and the carrots and chips were good at least!

But this was not the end! We finished earlier than anticipated so I suggested we visit Burrator Reservoir as it is literally 5 minutes away. We agreed and parked up at Claig Tor to begin our second mini-exploration of the day. First off, though, we went in search of a PCWW Cast Iron Marker, and yes, it's on Dartefacts! I found it partially obscured by this year's bracken.

PCWW Cast Iron Marker

A quick stroll beside the road took us to the top of the lower outcrops of Claig Tor, otherwise known as Yennadon Crags. I have been here before, but in summer, and it was agreed that we would take the track below the lowest outcrop on the way back.

Claig Tor lower

Claig Tor lower

Claig Tor lower

After the recent heavy rain, I expected the dam to be overflowing, but it wasn't, to my surprise.

Burrator Dam

Burrator Dam plaque

Across this huge structure, eastward, you'll notice a stile on the right which provides access to the woodland. This will take you to the beginnings of what can only be described as a stupendous tor. And what's more, it's severely underrated.

Known as Burra Tor, Burrator, Berra Tor and Beara Tor, this huge tor covers so large an area on the hillslope that it really does intimidate you wherever you are in the woods. I'm not exaggerating; Burra Tor is so grand that it questions the reliability of OS maps. Why is this tor not represented as a huge mass, why is it not named?

It's not just that either, as more than a few Dartmoor authors who are almost always reliable fail to do this tor justice, which just baffles me as its main wall towers above the onlooker like a castle rampart, and it for this reason that Burra Tor is my second favourite tor on this moor. Just look at it!!

Burra Tor

Burra Tor

Burra Tor

Burra Tor

Burra Tor and workmans' hut

This mega tor is much more extensive than my photographs can convey, not helped by the fact that I only explored the lower portion of the hill, unlike my first visit, but still then I didn't take a photo of the summit rock. Nevermind, I'll happily come back here again and again. Accessing the area couldn't be easier if you're OK on uneven surfaces.

Burra Tor workmans' hut

Burra Tor workmans' hut

Back at the dam, I examined the south side in the hope of finding another OS benchmark, but I came away with nothing. It is possible that the benchmark was engraved before the height of the dam was increased in 1929.

Burrator Reservoir

Burrator Dam - where's the B.M.?

Where's the B.M.?

Just before veering off left I spotted a toilet block, noting that you have to pay an extortionate 20p to go for whatever you need to go for! Damn, that's sad.


The track which takes a gentle descent to Drake's Leat is of little interest until you cross the leat; here, you cannot fail to notice the lowest part of Claig Tor.

Claig Tor lower

We retraced back to the road, taking a sharp left back past the quarry to investigate the summit outcrop, crowned with not one but two benches, one of which is a memorial.

Claig Tor upper view of Sheeps Tor

Claig Tor benches

And all that was required was a short run back to the car park (just below) as it started to rain as forecast by the Met Office. They got it right for a change! 😂

1 comment:

  1. Callisham Tor is definitely on private land, but only just. And I'm not telling on you!! You can pretty much touch it with along walking pole!! Great walk in a great area which gives so much interest. Burra Tor is a classic example of a tor which unveils itself, its a bit like the southwest version of Shaptor Woods. And take your time with your A Levels, Dartmoor is going nowhere, it will be there when you finish, you get one go at your education