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High Willhays and Yes Tor, North Dartmoor

A scenic moorland walk in North Dartmoor

The High Willhays and Yes Tor walk in North Dartmoor provides an excellent route for those wishing to test out their map reading skills whilst walking through some scenic countryside. Set alongside an MOD base, it's important to be careful during this walk. However, detailed pre-walk planning should make for an enjoyable afternoon's walking.

Name and location of walking route: High Willhays and Yes Tor, North Dartmoor
Walk distance: 7.5 miles (12km)
Total walking ascent: 0.22 miles (360m)
Duration of walk: Four to five hours
Terrain of walk: Open rolling moorland with some footpaths to follow but they can be faint or non-existent. Great terrain for practicing your walking navigation skills!

Description of walking route


The seemingly endless tracts of rolling moorland are what attract thousands of walkers to North Dartmoor every year, where you can really experience that feeling of getting away from it all.

The walk is ideal for people looking to develop their walk route planning, map reading and navigation skills. The route is not very physically challenging being quite short and without much in the way of ascent, meaning you can focus your energies on honing those newly acquired map reading skills whilst enjoying your walking.

  • Start the walk at Meldon Reservoir car park SX562917
  • Walk out of the car park and pick up the marked bridleway.
  • Follow the footpath contouring alongside and above the reservoir. At the end of the reservoir turn South East and walk along the path over a bridge, over the West Okement River.
  • Continue to walk along the path in the direction of the river for about 1.86 miles (3km) until you enter Black-a-Tor Copse, a narrow strip of woodland.
  • Keep going and once you exit the woodland after about 0.31 miles (500m) the ground becomes boggy and the river makes some sharp turns.
  • Turn North East here and walk up the steep slope, uphill to the MOD hut on Fordslands Ledge.
  • Practise your map reading skills and take a bearing from here to walk to High Willhays Tor.
  • From High Willhays follow the boggy track north to walk to Yes Tor.
  • The final part of the route will test your navigation. Head west from Yes Tor for about 0.62 miles (1km) to where the ground levels. Several paths intersect here. Find the well trodden path heading north keeping west of the steep valley wall and brook. Follow the track north until it eventually bears east and walk back to the reservoir.

Tips for this walking route: Dartmoor is used by the MOD for firing ranges — never pick up or disturb any ‘suspicious’ objects. Always observe red flags (lamps at night) which indicate live firing is taking place. Red and white striped posts indicate range boundaries (Call 0800 458 4868 for range firing schedules). Do not attempt to tackle this walking route alone unless you are an experienced navigator.

Facilities on route and in the local area:

  • Improve your map reading and navigation skills by booking on a course with CompassWorks just down the road at Princetown.
  • High Moorland Visitor Centre, Princetown — visit the center and learn all about the local geography, history and places of interest including ancient stone circles
  • Olditch Holiday Park, for more information see realbuzz.com’s top 20 campsites.
  • The Highwayman Inn, Sourton great food, beer and B&B accommodation Tel: 01837 861234

OS map required: OS Explorer (1:25 000) OL28, OS Landranger (1:50 000) 191

Other info:

  • Ramblers Guide to Dartmoor by Richard Sale, published by Collins.
  • Great Walks on Dartmoor and Exmoor by John Weir and Brian Le Messurier, published by Ward Lock.

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