A couple of Sunday’s back we decided to take a trip up to Meldon Reservoir which is just outside of Okehampton. The reservoir is 900 feet above sea level and sits next to Meldon Quarry. Apparently there used to be a circular walk around the reservoir but now only the path along the southern shore is open.
We crossed the dam and turned right and took the main path. There were sheep grazing on the hillside to our left and little streams of water crossed the stony path, flowing down into the reservoir on our right.
After crossing a small wooden footbridge we had to make the decision as to whether to carry on along the main reservoir path or to take a steep, and fairly precarious, looking track up on to the moor. Deciding on the latter, in the hopes of getting a better look at a waterfall we spotted earlier on the walk, we picked our way up the hillside. It went on, and on, and on some more. The climb was worth it though as the views at the top were far reaching and very spectacular.
We followed the ridge of the hill back towards the dam, zig zagging through a blanket of large rocks and crossing the small stream that fed the waterfall.
The path back down was quite muddy and uneven. The Meldon Viaduct came into view and we decided to head towards it in the hope that there would be a path on the other side back to the car park. We started to descend into the valley and came upon the old Meldon Quarry. It looked as though someone had taken a jagged knife and cut a chunk out of the hillside, exposing its black innards.
We went a little wrong on this next stage. We turned left out of the old quarry and saw a footpath sign pointing down into the valley. After following it for a few minutes we decided that we needed to be heading up, as opposed to down, in order to get on to the viaduct. We retraced our steps and ended up on another path which led to the old railway station. Everything was closed and frustratingly, the Granite Way which runs over the viaduct, was tantalisingly just on the other side of the fence. After a bit of investigating, we naughtily decided to jump over a low gate to get to the correct path. Unscathed after our 4 foot climb, we were finally on the viaduct. We spotted some steps up to the viaduct from the valley below and assume that had we carried on along the footpath we earlier discarded, we would have ended up here. Under a bridge and a few hundred metres further on, we came off the Granite Way and then followed the road back up to the reservoir car park.
It was a very lovely walk and took around 2.15 hours in total. What we didn’t realise was that we were very close to the highest point on Dartmoor – High Willhays. Next time we plan to follow a longer route from the AA which takes in a little more of this area.