Black a Tor Copse and Black Tor make a lovely Dartmoor walk from Meldon Reservoir. We last did it in late March on a sunny day – gorgeous!
Start at the Meldon Reservoir carpark (has loos), which is about 18 miles from the lodges and cottage. Walk over the reservoir dam, enjoying the spectacular views. Turn right and head along the side of the Reservoir until you get to the far end. At the head there’s a charming stone bridge (see pictures). But don’t cross this, instead turn up the valley here towards the copse of trees you can see. This isn’t Black A Tor Copse yet but it’s very picturesque. Walk along the track above the river – it’s the West Okement here.
You’re soon on a wide track. When you get to a walled enclosure skirt around it and from the far side you’ll see Black A Tor Copse, a National Nature Reserve. It’s special because it’s all English Oak (not sessile oak, the more common species on Dartmoor) and few woods are found this high. Because Dartmoor is often damp (it’s true – we have to admit it!) this a a great spot for lichens – they grow on the moss cloaked boulders beneath the trees as well as on the trees themselves. Several nationally-rare species grow here. It’s also one of the best places on Dartmoor to see breeding ring ouzels (a thrush like bird).
OK, the wood itself is not huge, but it’s very pretty – almost hobbit country. Just east of the wood you find Black Tor itself. Well you could hardly miss it. And it’s worth the climb when the views open out for you. At the Tor you’re on the high ground. You could strike out and make it to High Willhays or Yes Tor and so get to the highest bit of Dartmoor. Or you could just follow the track heading northish, which will take you back to the hills above Meldon Reservoir without needing to cross any Dartmoor rivers. It’s more exposed up here, so can be windy.
By the time you get back you’ll have had a proper taste of Dartmoor’s high moor but without any difficult navigation or rivers to cross.
Mostly firm, but uneven and plenty wet if it has been raining. Expect boggy bits, a puff up to the Tor and some wind on the top. As always, remember Dartmoor weather can be very changeable so go dressed for worse conditions than you are hoping for. Come and borrow the Dartmoor map from the farm house before you set out.
You’re probably going to need a car for this one, and parking is at Meldon Reservoir car park. On a Sat Nav the postcode EX20 4LU should get you close enough to follow signs. No car? That would be a challenge from Wheatland Farm Eco Lodges. Anything’s possible if you’re determined, but the start point is about 18 miles away and public transport is not good in that direction.