Bellever Tor is one of my favourite tors on Dartmoor. This is a bit odd, because if I was making a list of requirements for a perfect tor, it doesn’t meet any of them.
It isn’t remote, and in fact can be climbed in less than half an hour from either of the main roads that cross the central moors. It isn’t very high. It’s almost surrounded by a working conifer forest, planted in the 1920s, which obliterated most of the archaeology. There isn’t even a decent pub nearby. From afar, although distinctive, it doesn’t even look very special; much more molehill than mountain.
None of this stops it from being an incredible place. There’s a trig point, and rocks to scramble up, and views in all directions form the top. On a hot May afternoon, the breeze brought relief while we had lunch from the top and took in the vista. The landscape to the south sweeps away, over the West Dart and Swincombe rivers to Ryders Hill and the barren hills of the south moor. Hameldown looms to the east, and Powder Mills and the prison are both clearly visible to the west. It’s a view I’ve been enjoying for years, and as it is bordered by rivers and roads it has always been an ideal place to take students for navigation practice. I’ve whiled away many hours immersed in this part of the landscape.
Before it was planted with trees, this was an open area rich with archaeology, and the forest around is worth exploring. It’s littered with remains from Dartmoor’s ancient past: stone rows, cists and settlements. Legendary Dartmoor has a fantastic page which records most of it in great detail. This is the land of Dartmoor ‘piskies’ of folklore; being less imaginative, we stopped in a sunny glade to read the Gruffalo together.
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