Despite a very uncertain weather forecast which kept changing every ten minutes, the threat of heavy rain, high winds, thunder and lightning didn’t deter the 19 members who set out from the quarry car park at Meldon to walk to Dartmoor’s highest points. 

The walkers were well-rewarded for their optimism.     Yes, there were a couple of squally showers during the morning but the biggest threat, of stormy weather closing in at lunchtime, didn’t materialise.    As they climbed higher, the walkers could see rainfall moving over Dartmoor and felt the sudden chill and increasing windspeed pushing the rain towards them, but they were lucky.    There was only one slightly heavy shower which lasted no more than five minutes.     The afternoon was dry and warm and the terrain mostly dry, so the walkers returned with clean dry boots.  

The group followed the route to Yes Tor up Longstone Hill which sits high above Meldon Reservoir and the Dam.   The gentle ascent up the hill was on a wide, soft moorland grass track and was a relatively easy climb.  Approaching Yes Tor from that direction, however, does test the legs and lungs as the final ascent is short and steep.  The views to the north of Longstone Hill are excellent, as they are to the east and south with Yes Tor and West Mill Tor in view.    Yes Tor, as the highest tor on Dartmoor does not disappoint.  It is a massive, heaped pile of rocks commanding the skyline from all directions.   (Dartmoor Tors compendium, Josephine M Collingwood). Although the highest tor, it is not the highest point on the moor but it does boast a redundant OS trig point numbered S1765. The ‘highest point‘ honour goes to the underwhelming High Willhays nearby which at 6’6” higher than Yes Tor is much less impressive and not named as a tor.  If High Willhays is the highest point, why is the trig point not sited there?  Perhaps because of the visibility and more northerly location of Yes Tor?   Amongst Yes Tor’s other claims to fame are that the Scatter Rock brewery have named one of their bottled beers Yes Tor and in 1978 the famous rock band YES released an album called Tormato and on the sleeve was a picture of Yes Tor.  Apparently, the intended name of the album was going to be Yes Tor but was later changed to Tormato when a tomato was thrown at the original artwork as it was deemed to be boring. There was a class 60 diesel locomotive called Yes Tor and similarly a bulk milk tanker belonging to what used to be Milk Marque. (

Between Yes Tor and High Willhays are the remains of an old peat cutters track which was used when peat was cut and transported to the north by horse and cart.    As rain threatened, some members of the group decided to head straight to the shelter of West Mill Tor while others continued to High Willhays.  On their right, just before reaching High Willhays is a small neat rocky outcrop, the lesser known Hampster Tor, although some believe it is not a separate tor at all but part of High Willhays.   

Leaving High Willhays, the walkers headed down the clitter-strewn army track for the shelter of West Mill Tor where they climbed up to rejoin the smaller group for lunch.  West Mill Tor is a series of granite outcrops stretching along the ridge in three sections.  After their break, the walkers descended via the rough path behind the tor eventually joining a soft grassy path down to the picturesque Red-a-Ven brook which tumbles through a series of small waterfalls into the beautiful moorland valley that extends to Meldon Aplite Quarries. 

As ever, new walkers are always welcome. Next week’s walk will start from The Mucky Duck at Lydford.   Meet at the post office in George Street, Okehampton ready to leave at 9.30am.   Please be there in plenty of time so that the group can leave promptly.    Where possible, we try to share cars though this cannot be guaranteed.  You should be suitably attired for all weather conditions, including sturdy footwear and bring a packed lunch.