High Willhays, Okehampton, Dartmoor National Park

High Willhays, Okehampton, Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor's highest ground is in the north west section of the National Park. Near Okehampton, the moors rise to a broad ridgeline on which are two tors. The most impressive tor at the northern end of the ridgeline is called Yes Tor. At the southern end is Dartmoor's highest summit High Willhays. These two tors are the only mountains in southern England.

High Willhays is 621 metres above sea level. Yes Tor is just lower at 619 metres above sea level. Clearly, walking to the top of both tors is a must if you are a keen hillwalker. Given their location near Okehampton on the border of the Park, the two summits offer spectacular views across large areas of South West England and especially down into Cornwall.

The first time we walked to the top of High Willhays was when our youngest daughter was four years old so it's not particularly demanding walking.

High Willhays is a collection of small, rocky outcrops surrounded by tussocky moorland. According to the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map, the 621 metre summit is at the southern end of these outcrops. Browse the 'Photo Gallery' to see more. Yes Tor is a short walk away along a battered army track that's also clearly marked on that Ordnance Survey map.

On a clear day you'll see Bodmin Moor, the North Cornwall coast and Exmoor National Park to the north. In the Park itself, to the west you'll see the landscape around Meldon Reservoir and to the south west Black Tor (North Dartmoor). To the south are Amicombe Hill and, in the distance, Fur Tor. To the east, you'll see Oke Tor, Steeperton Tor and the high ground around Hangingstone Hill. If you can brave the cold, winter days can offer exceptional, clean light. Given the sheer size of the views, we'd recommend wrapping up warm on a sunny winter's day to benefit from that clarity of light.


Recommended route to High Willhays for the first time

We've positioned High Willhays on Google maps so zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see its location. To visit for the first time, we'd recommend walking up from the car park by Meldon Reservoir. If you refer to the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map, you'll see reservoir and dam. Cross the dam, pass through the metal gate to your left and follow the worn path up Longstone Hill. You'll come to an army road. Follow that towards the stunning Black Tor (North Dartmoor). From there, head up to High Willhays. Whilst it's a bit of a slog, it's not difficult walking.

For a longer route from the car park by Meldon Reservoir, try the Dartmoor's Highest Points Circular Walk (High Willhays/Yes Tor).


Other routes and directions to High Willhays

Moving clockwise, once again consulting the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map, you can also walk to the summit from the car parking area by Meldon Aplite Quarries or from the area around Okehampton Camp.

If time's short, it's possible to drive from Okehampton Camp up the army road to a small parking area below West Mill Tor. From there, it's a shortish yomp to the top. Note that there's not much parking available at that point and that it's the furthest you can drive into the north moors. From that parking area, you continue on foot up the army road. It's marked on the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map.

It's also fun to walk the army road down to Dinger Tor and then to head to the rocky outcrops on top of High Willhays via Fordsland Ledge.

All these routes are covered in our Yes Tor listing. Given the close proximity of Yes Tor to High Willhays, we've avoided repeating summary routes here.

Clearly, you can incorporate a trip to High Willhays as part of a much larger walk on the north plateau. Dartmoor's a small place and it normally takes us about thirty minutes to cover a mile with young kids. Walk for, say, five hours and you'll be able to bag lots of tors on the north plateau including High Willhays.