There are a number of walks you can do from here including a three-miler around the reservoir. However I fancied something a little more challenging so did a seven-and-a-half-mile wide arc taking in Sourton Tors, Steng-a-Tor, Black Tor and Longstone Hill. Not for the faint-hearted this walk is tough going and also ventures in the territory of the beast of Dartmoor...
DISTANCE: 7.5 miles (difficult walk, steep inclines and very boggy in places)
NEAREST REFRESHMENTS: Okehampton or the interesting Highwayman’s Inn at Sourton
FACILITIES: There are toilets in the car park.
CAR PARKING: There is car park at the reservoir.
This is an area I hadn’t explored before and was looking forward to seeing the towering tors and dramatic landscape on the walk. From the car park at Meldon Reservoir (SX 562917) there are signposts for Sourton and the moors.
The first mile is a long pleasant uphill between granite-walled fields. I don’t get to say ‘pleasant uphill’ very often so it’s worth saying it twice!
The path spits you out with a couple of choices to go diagonally left or straight up. I went straight up towards Sourton Tors (SX 543899).
As I hadn’t seen this tor before I went for a closer inspection. On the main path are two stones, one either side and crossing this a track running left to right. I followed this around a little to see the front of the tors. It’s a very rocky outcrop over a wide area with a tor on top. It didn’t make for a good photo so retraced my steps back to the two stones and carried straight on towards Corn Ridge.
(A word of caution if it’s been raining over the past few days or the weather looks like it’s coming in, from here I recommend going towards Shelstone Tor. There’s a path to the right of it which will take you to Black Tor. This will chop a couple of miles off, but also some very difficult and boggy terrain.)
There seemed to be a scar on the side of Corn ridge and the path runs alongside this so I headed there, taking in the lovely view of Shelstone Tor and Black Tor on my left and Sourton Tors behind me.
It was too steep to descend to the river from here, so after a spot of lunch I decided to walk along the top of the ridge and head to Steng-a-Tor (SX 568880) where it looked like an easier descent.
There are some animals paths here but mainly not a track to follow and it gets very boggy in places. I came within a few hundred yards of Steng-a-Tor, and had to be disappointed as it was in the middle of a bog. Despite my best efforts and prodding the ground with my walking poles I couldn’t find a way across so put my sensible head on and left.
I have since found out that there have been sightings of the beast of Dartmoor around this tor so I’m very glad I didn’t hang around!
Going down was still steep and I followed the edge of the bog down. A tip I picked up from my walking guide days in Austria is that walking diagonally down a steep incline can make it a bit easier. I put this into practice here and also loosely followed the large red and white firing range poles down towards the river.
There are some nice views up and down the valley from here and also of West Okemont river and Black-a-Tor copse. It was at the copse where I head my second cuckoo of the year.
I followed the river back down the valley and past the copse to the left side of Black Tor (SX 566895). You can cross the river anywhere you find a spot! The path goes to the left of Black Tor and it’s a steep walk up.
At the top the path is easily spottable so follow this along Longstone Hill. There a little cairn at the side of the path and after this the path starts to wend left and I spotted Meldon viaduct and then the reservoir car park.
It’s a pleasant path down to the reservoir and before you know it you’re back at the car park.