Reaching Yes Tor
Returning to Dartmoor feels strange after being away for so long. After growing up on Exmoor 50 miles in the other direction, Dartmoor is certainly unfamiliar territory for me. In fact I didn’t particularly have a great interest in the peaked tops of rolling barren hills and tripping over displaced rock. It was my boyfriend, Harry, who thought It would have many good photo opportunities and I could explore and play with my camera. Indeed I did.
My dad and I drove down the A30 to Oakhampton with the faint sounds of Christmas music on the radio when I first saw the larger hills again and the excitement began to set in. For me there is something so thrilling about going for a simple walk. It might be the change in scenery after another month cooped up in doors. Although I managed to do a lot with the free time this year and at least for me this year has been one of my best, but I’ll reflect on that another time.
After gearing up, leaving the car and then going back for the forgotten essentials such as hand warmers we started again! Admittedly, walking past Meldon Reservoir I instantly got the camera out and started playing. I probably could have done this walk about a good hour faster if I hadn’t been taking so many pictures. But how can I resist the light on the hills bouncing through the carved out valley and reflecting so bright on the water It was white with wind drawn black lines. Stunning. Unfortunately I still hadn’t mastered my dads pace and playing with the camera so I moved on.
Sadly for me, my dad isn’t one for sticking to the main path and believes It is better to go straight up the hill rather than follow the gentle incline path around. What was also a shame was the amount of chocolate and roast potatoes I’d consumed on Christmas Day which definitely weighed me down going up these hills! The shortcuts were worth it if only to avoid being near other walkers and families since firstly they tend to be In the way of the view the second you get the camera out and secondly COVID-19 is still raging through our nation. Despite it all, the views were stunning and dad walked off without me. Not hard to get lost though since the only way is up.
We were surprised how far we could see! Although we shouldn’t have been because Yes Tor is the second highest point on Dartmoor at 619 meters above sea level. You can after all see it from Dunkery Beacon (where I used to live) at 519 meters above sea level which Is the highest point on Exmoor. But still, I was entranced by the views all around. I must admit that I did love the view looking up at Yes Tor as we walked up but It became less and less interesting as we got closer and the rest of the landscape cropped out of view. By the time we got to the Rocky formation at the top it did provide some excellent relief and some shelter from the raging wind!
Of course Storm Bella had ripped through the country the night before and half way up we looked behind us to see the very ominous dark blue clouds that were quickly turning black, so naturally first I stopped to gawk, take some photos and then picked up the pace looking for shelter on top of the peak. After a brief and wind whipping photo shoot at the top I hid from the weather put on another layer and ate a sneaky snack only regretting the lack of coffee while watching the “evil” clouds roll towards us.
With luck we watched them loom over everything in sight, except us, but we did get snow. I could not contain my excitement and ended up trying to take a video of the snow falling but It was fleeting and instead we watched it fall on by as we walked in the opposite direction towards High Willhays Tor which is the highest point on Dartmoor at 621 meters above sea level. Although Dad and I debated this as we walked across the fairly flat path from one peak to the other. We were skeptical someone might have mixed up the names because looking across at the other tor it certainly seemed higher. However we resigned that It was an unjust illusion due to the weather mast atop High Tor.
Walking back down the tors, leaving behind fond memories and a beautiful pinky blue sunset I only managed to slip and fall to my knees once in the long elephant grass. Which I was very proud of considering it is the arch-nemeses of my ankles! And then It began to snow which I was of course elated about as I held tightly on to my hand warmer having not been able to feel one or two fingers for about an hour now. But after the snow came the onslaught of rain which turned to biting hail and then back to a lovely deep blue sky and an almost full moon. As it grew darker and the wind was just as harsh as It had been all day we were only growing colder so we slipped and slid down our previous short cut zig zagging to avoid an injury! Although I was permitted to walk on the main path for a little while but only because I argued it would shield us from the wind a little more which was received very well since somebody forgot their gloves and was clinging to the heated hand warmer for dear life.
Stumbling back to the car we were able to admire the wonderful dam once again, wondering if it would be fun to pull the plug. And then as if Dartmoor was saying goodbye the only way it knows how it began to rain again. Thank goodness for heated seating and chocolate.