UK Walks: Yes Tor & High Willhays – Dartmoor, Devon

One of the best walks in the UK is the walk to Yes Tor and High Willhays in Dartmoor National Park. It’s a great walk that takes you to the summit of both the highest and second highest peaks in Dartmoor. The highest point is High Willhays at 621 metres (2,039 feet) above sea level, which just a few meters higher than the second highest peak at Yes Tor which is 619 Meters or (2,031 feet).

It’s an easy walk that offers brilliant views, however you need to make sure that the British Army is not using this area when you’re planning a walk as they do tend to use this area as a firing range.

Yes Tor

For our walk-up Yes Tor we had to try it twice as the first time we arrived only to find terrible storms were battering the area which made walking impossible. The key problem with this area, it’s very exposed meaning that even the slightest bad weather system, rips across the National Park causing problems. While the walk is very simple, it’s not much fun in driving rain and storm force winds.

In our case, the second time, later that week, we arrived early in the morning to find dense hill fog that could potentially make the early part of our walk quite dangerous, but most importantly, it was calm and quiet. The great thing about walking in this area is firstly the early morning fog quickly burns away with the sun, and secondly, the area is very safe with a clear pathway.

Starting Point

You have several choices on where to start your walk, however, we chose to start at the Meldon Dam car park. The car park is huge meaning that even in the summer, you’re guaranteed to find a space. There are also public toilets to help you prepare for your walk.

Heading south initially out of the car park brings you to the impressive Meldon Dam which was constructed in 1972. The dam is remarkable and easily allows a view of both sides of the dam. After a short walk across the dam, you join the clearly mark pathway to Yes Tor which initially heads down the side of the reservoir, before heading south-easterly up the hill towards the peak.

The walk to Yes Tor is straightforward. Not only is there a clear pathway, but its hard-packed grass all the way to the Trig point at the summit. The view from the top is fantastic, and on a clear day, you can clearly see for miles across North Devon & NE Cornwall.

High Willhays

If you’re walking to Yes Tor, you may as well check out High Will hays peak which is the highest point in Dartmoor and has a better view. High Willhays feels a lot more remote with the scenery extending to the Devon coastline.

The walk from Yes Tor to High Willhays is about half a mile and clearly marked. While the difference in height between Yes Tor and High Willhays is only about two-meters, if you want to walk to the highest point in Dartmoor, its well worth the short walk. The summit of Highwillhays is clearly marked with a Cairn and on a clear day offers great views.

West Okement River

The walk back to our car took us around the area of West Okement Rivers which has been used from around 100AD to mine Tin Ore and therefore has numerous huts where the workers used to live. The workers would stay in this area and build a channel and direct the fast-flowing water over the gravel to reveal a black stone called cassiterite which they could sell .

This part of the walk is a little tricky given the land has been heavily chopped up over the last few hundred years with all the activity surrounding the area, therefore be prepared.

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