Yes Tor Circular

Dartmoor National Park, England

The trail:

  • Location: Dartmoor National Park, England
  • Categories: Spring / Summer / Autumn / Winter / / Foothill / Plain / Marsh / Rural / Lake / Stream
  • Duration: 4-5 Hours
  • Distance: 10 Miles

Walking the trail:

  • Summary: A reservoir, firing range, atmospheric wilderness and the highest Point on Dartmoor. A perfect Introduction hike into the wild moorland of England's ancient National Park. Bring snacks as its a tough but fantastic 10 mile day out.

A reservoir, firing range, atmospheric wilderness and the highest Point on Dartmoor. (and south of the Peak District in England) This hike on the northern side of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, England will take you from Meldon reservoir up too Yes Tor (619m) and Hill Willhays which is officially the highest point at 621m. Then loop through westward down through valleys, past Great Links Tor (582m) and then back around to the western side of Meldon reservoir to finish this 10-mile loop.

There is a large car park at Meldon Dam located at the north point of the Reservoir. This being the start point. The dam itself is a rather impressive structure built in 1972. As you walk over the top of the dam you have fantastic views of the reservoir and also the valley to the North East with a view of Meldon Viaduct (Built 1874) which is equally as impressive. It's an incredibly varied interesting landscape, one to be enjoyed before heading into the moody expanse of the moors!

The majority of the Northen regions of Dartmoor are incredibly remote with very few paths. This is exactly why it's so appealing. Dartmoor can be bleak, unforgiving, stunning and beautiful and this is so true of this northern Dartmoor landscape. In thick mist and pouring rain its particularly vicious. Obviously by my photos I was blessed with glorious sunshine during this walk but don't be deceived, you still get that sense of remoteness and isolation, even in the best of summer sun. 

From Meldon Reservoir you are onto the open Moorland which can be tough going. It's a steep ascent across tough, wet grassland and the hardest part of this route. The Dartmoor firing range boundary starts just before Yes Tor so you will need to check the firing timetable to make sure you can enter. Red flags along the perimeter will warn if the firing range is in operation. If they are up. Do not enter!

Link to the range firing times below:

Yes Tor feels like its boasting about being the highest point in Dartmoor but that Honor actually goes to the more subtle Hill Willhays Tor directly southwards along this route which is 2m higher! Yes Tor is still a popular place for people to walk too so its normally got a few people sitting around or climbing about. If you're lucky you may spot some Dartmoor ponies up there. For me they were posing with great views behind towards Great Links Tor.  Once you start heading south west into the moor, people will definitely become infrequent. 

From Willhays you pick up the Mary Michael Pilgrims Way which is a long-distance pilgrim trail still in development winding between Cornwall and Norfolk.  The route heads south west towards Great Links Tor. You pass an old boiler house ruins on the way with some scattered rusty reminders of when Dartmoor was pretty industrial back in the 1800s, yet again something that makes this barren landscape so fascinating.

If you like to climb around the ancient weathered Tors then Great Links Tor is a good one to have a lunch break and enjoy the views. From here you pick up tracks that head north and eventually head down a valley into the western side of Meldon Reservoir where you can walk around its eastern edge and back over the Dam to the start point.

Overall, you will ascend 2000ft (630m) with some of it over tough and wet terrain so over 10 miles it is certainly a good solid day of hiking so make sure you take plenty of snacks! It's a great day out probably best enjoyed on a sunny calm day but for a true Moor experience if you can get some rain and sun together you are in for a treat. 

The postcode for the carpark is EX20 4LU. Car parking for over 3 hours is £2 which is great value considering the location. This is however only coins as far as I know to this date. Unfortunately, these areas are remote so don't expect Wi-Fi card transactions! 

Any questions on the route feel free to message. GPX route also available.