Granite Way, Okehampton Castle and Yes Tor

Cold nights and clear days, frost on the ground in the morning and good views to the distance as you walk. Conditions were perfect, as they had been for a week or two now. I decided to head up to the north western corner of the moor for a bit of Dartmoor 365 bagging and to test out the climbing legs as I have a Lake District trip coming up. Yes Tor was to be the climb with Okehampton Castle, Meldon Quarry and Red-a-ven Dip/pool the 365 squares. Lots to see on this walk therefore and the route was a decent length as well, 12 miles, however I don’t remember the walk down from Yes Tor to Black Tor being so long and boggy. Its a tough stretch, however there was a bonus to the steep climb and long descent, all along the second half of the walk were newly born lambs in fields. Spring had sprung.

Start – Sourton parking

Route – Sourton Down Cross – Granite Way – Meldon Viaduct – Meldon Quarry – West Devon WayOkehampton Castle BridgeOkehampton Castle – Okehampton Camp – Black Down – Red-a-ven Dip/Pool – Yes TorBlack TorVellake Corner – Prewley Moor

Distance – 12 miles    Start time – 9.45am   Time taken – 6hrs 10mins  Highest Point – Yes Tor 619m

Weather – Sunny, breezy, cool on Yes Tor

© Crown copyright 2022 Ordnance Survey FL 2022 SF
To start with another D365 square, I’d parked about 40 metres down the road from Sourton Down Cross, the Granite Way was about 100 metres behind that hedge, so next I made my way to that
Bit of a zoom along the road I’d parked on, the A386 is stretching away south in the distance
Prewley Moor looking up to Sourton Tor. I’d realised at this point that I could have cut the corner to the Granite Way by taking a path by the caravan park to it, never mind I got this lovely early morning view by coming this way
The old railway track to Plymouth, or Granite Way as its called now. A cycle and walking route along the western side of Dartmoor
Not quite planning on walking as far as Waterloo
Here’s the Meldon Viaduct, it was originally a single tracked railway across here, then they built another and tethered it to the first to make it a double tracked railway
The view from the viaduct to Meldon Dam, left is Longstone Hill and behind the dam is Homerton Hill and the Corn Ridge
Here you can see the two viaducts tethered together to make one. Still not sure how anyone could get there to graffiti it without taking huge risks as either end of the viaduct is blocked off
Shortly after the viaduct is the train station for the quarry, trains no longer come up this far (recently they have started running again from Exeter to Okehampton). Here the old quarry buildings stand idle. Next I returned to the viaduct and dropped below it to follow the road below
Following the road meant I crossed to A30, I was also on familiar territory now as this is the route of the West Devon Way which I did back in 2018.
Walking across Okehampton Golf Course on the West Devon Way
And looking back, lots of my walks recently have involved crossing a golf course for some reason
This wooden bridge over the West Okement river takes you to the castle
Okehampton Castle looking resplendent in the sunshine, this once was the largest castle in Devon, built in 1086, a classic motte and bailey style which stood against the Norman conquest, owned by the de Courtenay family and in the 13th century turned into a hunting lodge. Now run by English Heritage
After the castle I re-crossed the wooden bridge and headed up through the woods towards Okehampton Camp, first I crossed the railway out of the quarry, Okehampton train station is in that direction
Then I crossed the A30 again
And passed the youth hostel
Beside the youth hostel is the start of a track, left is Okehampton Camp and a path used to head straight through the middle of it, no longer it has been closed for a while now despite the fact that the MOD are guests on the moor. This track leads to a house with stunning views, after the house I turned left and uphill
Views from the house north east across Devon towards Somerset and Exmoor
Lots of these little ones today, one or two clearly born in the hours before I arrived and weren’t on their feet yet and still being licked clean by their mothers
After a fair climb I reached Black Down and got this view to West Mill Tor left and Yes Tor right. Red-a-ven brook runs between the two and tumbles down the hill I’m heading for the bit as the brook starts to level out after falling steeply down
Nearing Red-a-ven dip. The climb to Yes Tor looks fun from here
Red-a-ven dip and the pool is just up to the right here, I sat at the pool for a while and had a coffee before turning to climb up Yes Tor
I always look for the north coast of Cornwall when walking in this area, but it was nice to pick out a spot I’ve seen recently when walking around Bude (here). The white balls in the distance are the GCHQ centre north of Bude, they can be easily seen just to the right of the wind farm mill, centre photo
Regular stops on this climb and chance to turn and enjoy the improving view over Black Down which is catching the sun. The cloud had come in over the high moor now and it had cooled somewhat as a result
I was glad to reach the top and the trig point, looking to High Willhays the top of Dartmoor, and Great Links Tor is over to the far right
Looking south east ish I look over to Hangingstone Hill
I’d walked a rough and boggy route towards Black Tor, these are the two lower outcrops of this tor. I decided not to ascend them this time as it had taken a while to get to this point from Yes Tor. Clearly my hill legs aren’t quite there!!
Vellake Corner, the West Okement river is down on my left, and I’m heading to cross the weir
That’s the weir I’ve just crossed
Looking back down to Vellake Corner, a smidge of Meldon reservoir can be seen in the distance. Homerton Hill on the right and South Down on the left
Yes Tor looks a long way away from here and I can tell you it is. Shelstone Tor is on the hillside over there on the right, with Black Tor merging into it on the hillside behind. Shelstone is another tor that you could easily pick off on this walk if you wanted to
Back as I was at the start. Prewley Moor and Sourton Tor, bit more cloud above my head but this was a great walk and another that mixed tors on Dartmoor with villages and fields at the edges of the moor proper. I’ll be sad to finish the Dartmoor 365 list, but I will be certainly looking through my favourite ones and looking to repeat them again. Possibly on a second round, maybe!

3 thoughts on “Granite Way, Okehampton Castle and Yes Tor

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