Watern Tor, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park

Watern Tor, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park

Along with Haytor Rocks and Great Staple Tor, Watern is one of the most distinctive tors on Dartmoor. Thin strips of granite appear to have been carefully layered one on top of another and then sculpted to produce extraordinary shapes. The rocky outcrop is impressive. Its location even more so.

On the edge of Dartmoor's north plateau, the moor sweeps down from Watern Tor to an expanse of boggy land through which the North Teign River and Walla Brook flow before descending further to the rolling countryside around Chagford and then the low ground of Mid Devon and South Devon. The views are vast. The only potential drawback is that it takes a wee bit of effort to get there.

We've positioned Watern Tor on Google maps so zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see its location.

 

Recommended route to Watern Tor for the first time

To visit for the first time, we'd recommend walking in from Batworthy Corner above Chagford. From this starting point, you get the classic long view of the tor silhouetted on the edge of the north plateau. The tor is always within sight on this route which also takes you over clapper bridges and past stone circles.

To begin, follow the skinny moorland road from Chagford to Batworthy Corner. Walk north west and cross the North Teign River on the Teign-e-ver Clapper Bridge and then Walla Brook via Wallabrook Bridge. Head up to Scorhill Circle. Continue north west from the stone circle and you'll come to a wide grass track that takes you all the way up to White Moor Stone and White Moor Stone Circle. Wander across to Hound Tor and then Wild Tor. Grass tracks run from the Wild Tor area to Watern Tor and you have to cross Walla Brook. For example, you can follow the line of the army firing range designated by white and red striped metal poles or you can cross Walla Brook further south at the old mining works by Watern Combe. If you plan this route referring to the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map, you'll see that you're avoiding the expanse of boggy land to which we referred above. Whilst there are routes through this, to which we refer below, we'd recommend avoiding the area.

A variation on this is to cross the North Teign River on the Teign-e-ver Clapper Bridge and then Walla Brook via Wallabrook Bridge. Head up to Scorhill Circle. Continue north west to Gartaven Ford and trudge the wide grass track that runs to Wildtor Well and a ford across Walla Brook below Watern Tor. A very obvious path climbs to the rocky outcrops. It's more direct but can get boggy around Gartaven Ford, Gallaven Mire and Wildtor Well.

 

Other routes from the east

From Batworthy Corner, cross Shovel Down and follow the western edge of Fernworthy Forest to Teignhead Farm Clapper Bridge. Use the clapper to cross the North Teign River and then take the grass track to the north of Manga Brook which climbs Manga Hill to Manga Hill Cairn. From there, tracks take you across tussocky moorland to Watern Tor. Alternatively, start this route from the car parking area at the end of the road that skirts Fernworthy Reservoir. Walk through Fernworthy Forest to Teignhead Farm Clapper Bridge and then follow the abovementioned route.

If you are determined to take a more direct route from Batworthy Corner to Watern Tor, you can cross Shovel Down and then follow the line of the farm wall from Stonetor Hill down to the North Teign River and then up to Manga Hill Cairn and Watern Tor. Note that you have to cross the river here using metal railings. It can also be exceptionally boggy. We've done it many times with kids but it can be unpleasant.

Another route from Batworthy Corner is to cross the North Teign River at Teign-e-ver Clapper Bridge and then pick your way north west to cross Walla Brook beyond the point where it joins with Gallaven Brook. You then continue north west on dry land between Walla Brook and Gallaven Brook before picking up a track that runs south west to Watern Tor. This track takes you over Walla Brook again before rising to the outcrop.

Last, only after a long spell of dry weather, you can walk direct as the crow flies from Batworthy to Watern Tor. It's not particularly pleasant but we couldn't resist the route.

 

Routes and directions to Watern Tor from the west

From the west. Drive the road from Okehampton to Okehampton Camp. Continue on up the military road and park in the area around East Okement Farm. Follow the military road on foot to Knack Mine and then towards Hangingstone Hill. Trend east to Watern Tor.

 

Routes and directions to Watern Tor from the north

From the north. Start from the moorland village Belstone. Yomp up to Cosdon Beacon on Cosdon Hill. From there, walk south along a broad ridge of moorland to Hound Tor and Wild Tor. Follow one of the grass tracks from Wild Tor to Watern Tor. Alternatively, walk from Belstone to Taw Marsh. Cross the River Taw via the ford and follow the grass track up to the Hound Tor area. Continue to Wild Tor and Watern Tor.

 

Routes and directions to Watern Tor from the south

From the south. Walk from Postbridge to Sittaford Tor. Follow the farm wall north west in the direction of Quintin's Man. From there, it's a yomp along the line of the army firing range to Watern Tor.

 

Clearly, there are other routes you can follow to reach Watern Tor. Our only advice is to avoid boggy areas after wet weather. That terrain makes for slow, unpleasant walking. Winter walking is good because the high ground freezes!