Upper West Okement Valley, Okehampton, Dartmoor National Park

Upper West Okement Valley, Okehampton, Dartmoor National Park

The West Okement is a river that rises on Dartmoor's north plateau by the National Park's famous Cranmere Pool. From this river head, the water flows swift and clear around the north slope of Great Kneeset to Kneeset Foot. This remote and boggy area is at the top of a stunning, steep-sided valley to which we refer as the Upper West Okement Valley.

The valley runs between Lints Tor and the southern end of Meldon Reservoir. At the other end of the reservoir, in the shadow of a huge dam wall, is the beginning of what we call the Lower West Okement Valley which continues north and north east to English Heritage's Okehampton Castle (English Heritage) and the Dartmoor gateway town Okehampton. The Upper West Okement Valley is packed with points of interest from a National Nature Reserve to many rocky tors, waterways to historical sites. The views, especially from Lints Tor and Black Tor, are magnificent. Walking in and around the valley is a joy.

We've positioned the Upper West Okement Valley on Google maps so zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see its location. There are various routes you can follow to explore the valley but we'd recommend following the path that runs from Meldon Reservoir Dam around the eastern edge of the reservoir to the bottom of the valley. The track, roughly speaking, runs straight up the valley to the foot of Lints Tor. It takes you along the bank of the West Okement River and through the Black-a-Tor Copse National Nature Reserve up to the system of waterways by Sandy Ford and Lints Tor. It's relatively easy to avoid the boggy patches at the top of the valley so don't be put off by the mass of fine, blue lines on the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map.

Alternative routes include dropping down from Dinger Tor to the east or Kitty Tor to the south. We've also walked in via Shelstone Tor from Prewley Moor.

To cross the river, use Sandy Ford (Upper West Okement Valley). At the top of the valley, the water at this ford can be shallow above a wide layer of stones. We've always managed to cross the river up there except after periods of heavy rain.

Other beautiful Dartmoor valleys include the Dart Gorge and Lustleigh Cleave, the Teign Gorge (National Trust) and Tavy Cleave. The National Trust's Lydford Gorge (National Trust) is also stunning.