Dartmoor: Kitty Tor and the West Okement River

Yesterday, I missed out on reaching Kitty Tor, so today I was going to reach it via a different route. The sunnies were on all day for this one, and it was a top day on the hill!

From Meldon Reservoir I followed the track to Vellake Corner. Here, I had a choice to go directly up the West Okement valley, following the river, or cross the weir and head south-west up a valley I had never explored before. It had to be choice number two, and the track brought me up into a huge grass amphitheatre that seemed all the more impressive by the sunshine! Bloody hell, it felt good to be alive right now!

I ascended further to Shelstone Tor, another first for me, and I was greeted with a wonderful view up the West Okement valley, with Black Tor, High Willhays and Yes Tor towering up the other side. Up onto Corn Ridge, a track becomes visible and is simple to follow to Steng-a-Tor. This is a boundary point on the Perambulation of Dartmoor, and a tricky tor to get to without getting your feet stuck in the mire surrounding it.

Kitty Tor was a mere five hundred metres away, and forty metres higher, but the ground was still tricky. Once reached, I lunched on a Thai Chicken Curry with rice and feasted further on the view across the valley to High Willhays (pictured above right)!

The descent down to Sandy Ford was slippery, and boggy, but it was an obvious wide path with a gradual gradient. One that I wish I had headed for a few years back, when on the Perambulation. Instead, I opted to descend straight from Steng-a-Tor, which is a nasty route strewn with clitter and ankle turning traps. An experience, but probably not one that would be advised for Walking Group Leaders, and certainly not ten hours into a walk when mistakes could be made!

Black-a-tor Copse
Sandy Ford was deeper than yesterdays crossing, but once again I was impressed not to get the feet wet! From here, the option is a climb up to Fordsland Ledge and return via Black Tor, or follow the river back down to the reservoir. Once again, I chose option two, and came up trumps! You pass the beautiful Black-a-tor Copse National Nature Reserve (pictured right from a previous walk).

According to the National Park website; "This ancient oak woodland is situated about 1 mile from Meldon Reservoir up the West Okement River... 44 species of mosses and liverworts and 133 species of lichen have been recorded here..."

Back at the reservoir, I retraced my steps along the banks to the car. This was one of those days that rewards you for all the effort you put in!
  • Date: 04/04/10
  • Description: Meldon Res. – Vellake Corner – Shelston Tor – Kitty Tor – Sandy Ford – West Okement River – Meldon Res. – Sunny, wind, hail, 12km, 4.5hrs

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