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Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor

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Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 10 Jul 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walking Guidestar1 Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walking Guidestar1 Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walking Guidestar1 Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walking Guidestar1 Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walking Guide
Devon, Dartmoor
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walking Guide boot Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walking Guide boot Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walking Guide
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11 °C, Light rain, Wind: 15 mph SSW
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A 5 mile circular and fairly strenuous walk through typical Dartmoor landscape in Devon. The walk begins with a crossing over the Meldon Reservoir dam and then follows the path alongside the reservoir to meet the West Okement River. The return leg climbs high onto Dartmoor to Sharp Tor and then follows the track along and around Longstone Hill to return to the start.

As with any walking on Dartmoor, the area is very exposed so make sure you are well prepared. The paths are rocky underfoot and there are areas of marshy ground so good waterproof boots are a must. After periods of rain some of the tracks can be running with an inch or two of water. There are free roaming sheep, cattle, horses and ponies on Dartmoor so take care with dogs. There are several steady slopes throughout plus one very steep climb over granite rocks up to Sharp Tor itself. There are no stiles and just a couple of gates. Toilets are available in the car park at the start. Approximate time 2.5 to 3 hours.

The walk starts from the Meldon Reservoir car park (voluntary contributions are requested). The car park is marked with signs from the A30 between Launceston and Okehampton and is accessed via the B3260. Approximate post code EX20 4LU.

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Walk Sections

Car Park to Picnic Area
Car Park to Picnic Area

Start point: 50.7077 lat, -4.0388 long
End point: 50.7037 lat, -4.0379 long

Leave the car park via the stone steps alongside the toilet block. Pass out through the gate onto the lane. Turn left signed as ‘Bridleway to the Moor’ and follow the tarmac lane down to the reservoir.

Meldon Reservoir serves a population of more than 200,000 people in an area extending to Tavistock in the south and Bideford in the north. The water is pumped to Prewley Treatment Works by electricity generated by the hydro-electric installation which was added in 1987. The dam construction was started in 1970 and was completed in 1972. The dam is 201 metres in length and 44 metres in height and cost £1.6million.

Cross over the reservoir dam and go out through the gate at the far side. Turn right onto the track running directly to the left of the reservoir. After a little distance you will reach a gate on the right which leads to an area of picnic benches, just before the track bends to the left.

Picnic Area to End of Reservoir
Picnic Area to End of Reservoir

Start point: 50.7037 lat, -4.0379 long
End point: 50.6977 lat, -4.0461 long

Do NOT follow the main track and do NOT pass though the gate. Instead carry on straight ahead running parallel with the fence line of the reservoir to the right. Continue on the path as it swings right with the fence line also swinging to the right. Cross over the footbridge across the stream.

Keep right to follow the path as it climbs gradually with the fenced finger of the reservoir down to the right. Follow the path as it then swings left running alongside the main body of the reservoir now on the right.

Follow the footpath for some distance as it steadily undulates alongside the fenced reservoir. You will come to a short steep section downhill marking the end of the reservoir.

End of Reservoir to Weir
End of Reservoir to Weir

Start point: 50.6977 lat, -4.0461 long
End point: 50.6909 lat, -4.0398 long

Do NOT cross the footbridge to the right, instead keep left on the path with the stream running immediately to your right. Keep on the path with the gorse and heather slopes rising steeply up to the left. Follow the path as it swings left passing a small stone building at a weir over to the right. Keep ahead to join a wide grass track climbing gently uphill.

Down in the valley to the right you will see the West Okement River tumbling over the large granite rocks in the river bed. As the grass track begins to level off you will reach an old wall and gates ahead marking the position of the weir in the river.

Weir to Blackator Copse
Weir to Blackator Copse

Start point: 50.6909 lat, -4.0398 long
End point: 50.6866 lat, -4.0356 long

Skirt left of the walled weir area, picking your way through the granite rocks. Once you are past the weir, continue to follow the river bank with the river directly on the right. Take care here. Use the large granite blocks to cross over any channels of running water coming off the hillside and take care to avoid any deep bogs.

Ahead you will reach Blackator Copse Nature Reserve. This is one of the best examples in Britain of high altitude oak woodland. It is nationally important for the great variety of lichens and mosses that clothe the rocks and trees. The conditions for these are provided by high humidity, low pollution levels and mild winters.

Blackator Copse to Stream
Blackator Copse to Stream

Start point: 50.6866 lat, -4.0356 long
End point: 50.6893 lat, -4.0301 long

Swing left immediately in front of the copse following the tree-line on your right and climbing up through the granite rocks. Pick your way up hill through the granite rocks and bracken, heading for the left hand edge of the rocks which sit alongside the Black Tor rock formation.

Continue until you draw level with Black Tor on your right. Continue walking over the brow of the hill with Sharp Tor to the right and veering just very slightly left. Continue ahead leaving Sharp Tor behind and to the right. You will reach a fairly obvious stream with very large blocks of granite.

Stream to Longstone Hill
Stream to Longstone Hill

Start point: 50.6893 lat, -4.0301 long
End point: 50.7018 lat, -4.0305 long

Cross over the stream and go a few paces ahead to pass between three upright granite blocks which mark the start of a rocky track. Follow this track which heads to the right hand side of the two main hills on the left.

Follow the fairly obvious rocky track winding through the moor. The path seems to end in an open grass area. Don’t worry, just continue in the same direction and you will soon pick up a quite obvious grass vehicle track across the moor once again.

Follow this track for some distance and you will eventually draw level with the flag pole on the top of Longstone Hill to your left.

Longstone Hill to End
Longstone Hill to End

Start point: 50.7018 lat, -4.0305 long
End point: 50.7071 lat, -4.0374 long

Continue following the grass track as it descends over the brow of the hill and it will begin to swing left. A path merges in from the right and as you go further left you will have views of a large quarry and then the Meldon Iron Railway Viaduct ahead.

Further along the path the reservoir and its dam will come in to view. Follow the path swinging left and downhill and the track will emerge to meet the picnic area alongside the reservoir. Swing right here onto the track running with the fenced reservoir on the left.

Follow this track – which is the one you started your walk on – and at the end turn left through the gate to cross over the reservoir dam. Follow the lane as it swings right and you will reach the car park on the right.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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