My Favourite Dartmoor Places That Are Not Tors


Stalldown Row

Although I go by the nickname 'Tor Bagger', and clearly prioritise tor bagging over anything else on Dartmoor, I do have a great passion for other aspects of Dartmoor that are not restricted to the magnificent granite masses. Since becoming a Registered User on Dartefacts, my mind and explorations have been opened up to so much more than I ever could've imagined, making my walks of much more interest and merit, particularly in areas bereft of abundant granite such as, I hate to say it, the interior of the South Moor but the North too.

The following list, unlike my favourite Dartmoor tors, is not in order of favourites as this list is bound to change when I discover a new place, whereas my favourite tors are almost sacrosanct now that I have bagged most of them at least once. I have been extremely selective looking into my memories from the locations and overall credibility. I'm sorry, but although places such as Green Hill (North Dartmoor) and Langcombe Hill are indeed memorable, I can't say I have any intentions to revisit immediately!

I have often defined my all-time favourite area of the moor being that between Wild/Watern Tors all the way through Fernworthy Forest, between Kestor and Sittaford Tor to Birch Tor and eventually Hameldown. But this area is huge so I have been much more specific.

The Hennock Reservoirs

The three reservoirs at Kennick, Tottiford and Trenchford are sometimes grouped together and for me are home to some of my best memories of my early adventures. This area was one of the first that I began exploring in any great detail by myself, simply by getting the bus up to either Bovey Tracey or Slade Cross from Newton Abbot and then walking up. The plantations offer some lovely peaceful walking whilst the shores of the reservoirs are a joy to walk alongside in any season. Although Kennick Reservoir is reserved for anglers, there is still the road on the south edge and a public bridleway on the north side that enable you to still experience/get a taste of this tranquil spot. Why it makes my list is because of all of the above; this is where I really became fascinated with Dartmoor and began to explore further afield in 2017/early 2018.

Cormorant, Kennick Reservoir

Shaptor Wood

It would be rude not to include this place, and yes it is again towards the East because that is simply where I first began exploring the National Park at my own pace. Shaptor Wood is locally renowned by tor baggers as a paradise for the granite masses, popping up everywhere and their magnitude capturing my attention, but the bluebell display each year in early to mid May is just fantastic. The wood is largely left for nature and I enjoy just strolling through it listening to the birds.

Shaptor Rock Bluebells

Dendles Wood and Stalldown

Another woodland, this time on the South Moor beneath Stalldown which, due to its extremely close proximity, is included here. First place is the wood: Dendles Wood is a Nature Reserve consisting of impressive small tors and mesmerising cascades that have been the scene of many a romantic photo. Today it is left to nature and the complex, consisting also of High House Waste and Dendles Waste, is owned by three separate bodies. I feel truly captivated by the confluence of the Combe Brook with the River Yealm, at Combe Crags; the waterfall here for me rivals any other on the moor, and the various footbridges enable me to explore. I am particularly attracted to the vibrant mosses that carpet the hillside east of the Yealm.

The second is Stalldown (Stall Down, Stall Moor, etc.), also known as Stealdon or Staldon; what a magnificent hill we have here. Containing one of my favourite if not my favourite stone rows on the moor, with massive stones, and the beautiful lunch spot that is Stalldown Tor close to a huge benchmark, what is there not to love about this place? I like (for once) that it takes some effort to reach due to lack of parking, and I find that the outlooks over both the Yealm and Erme valleys to be some of the finest country on Dartmoor. Hillson's House is the top, and gives excellent eastward views across to Sharp Tor.

Tim Jenkinson approaching the waterfall below Combe Crags

A giant benchmark on Stalldown

West Okement Valley

Nicknamed, because of its sheer, concave sides, as 'Death Valley' (also Killer Valley), this for me is the most dramatic of the moorland valleys on Dartmoor and for me its fascination lies in its formation, which from various papers is thought to be related to a small ice cap on Dartmoor. Black-a-Tor Copse lies in the bottom of the valley, dominated by billowing hills on all sides. The beautiful tors of Lints, Black, Shelstone, even Stenga add to its appeal. I have climbed up the south side of the valley twice before now in different places and those moments of being on all fours are just epic to look back on. Here, you feel like you're in a more mountainous piece of country, such as the Brecon Beacons.

Let the descent commence!

Wispy Clouds above Fordsland Ledge

Rocks above Slipper Stones

Fernworthy Forest and Surroundings

A bit of an odd on, this, as it covers a very large area of Dartmoor. Fernworthy Forest itself is pretty massive and holds many memories for me, such as Ten Tors training walks. On one training walk, between Grey Wethers Stone Circles and Fernworthy Gate, I slipped on a rock and hurt my knee, and I was really tempted to drop out, yet somehow I kept on going and finished at Meldon Reservoir, in the dark! The twin stone circles at Grey Wethers are splendid examples of prehistory and the same goes for the Hurston Row on the east side of Fernworthy Forest, and Assycombe Row in the forest itself. In the forest also lies the elusive Lowton Borough Rocks, or Loughten Tor, that is a challenge to reach but is a great achievement.

My favourite clapper bridge is just below Long Ridge and spans the North Teign, and is often used by me to reach my favourite tor, Watern, with its 'Thirlstone'. The North Teign heads north into one of my favourite hidden gems, called Manga Hole, this a charming spot containing numerous rock basins and a waterfall.

Grey Wethers Stone Circles

Fernworthy Stone Circle

Teignhead Farm Clapper Bridge

The Thirlstone

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