This is an old favourite route which takes in some of the best Tors (in my opinion) on the south Moor. Living on this side of Dartmoor I am used to looking across and seeing the three giants sitting there, Cox Tor, Staple Tor & Great Mis Tor. They are visible from so many places on Dartmoor (including places on the very north of the Moor). Having done Great Mis Tor earlier on this year I decided to tackle the other two and also one of my real favourites, Roos Tor. This sizable Tor is hidden away behind Great Staple Tor and missed by many, however it’s always been a real favourite Tor of mine as it always feel remote there and the views out across to the north are spectacular to say the least.
Setting off it was warm, really warm. We have continued to enjoy the fine weather that’s been sitting over us for the last month or so. I parked my car at Cox Tor car park (SX530751 / PL19 9LQ), put my pack on, factor 50 and my bush hat and followed the well-established track up the side of Cox Tor. The track is deceptive and soon ramps up becoming quite steep at times. The other thing about Cox Tor is a false summit when approaching from the south. As you hit the ‘top’ you realise that actually the true summit is a further 100m along. I got to the trig point which adorns the summit and took my pack off. I felt exhausted and I hadn’t even covered the first mile yet! After a brief rest, some water and a serious talking to myself about my fitness…. I started off back down the east slope heading for Roos Tor.
As I approached the bottom of the slope I was pleasantly surprised to find the ground was firm rather than it’s normal boggy. The dry weather had not only dried out the ground but also the watering hole that sits in the middle of this ground. I immediately turned my attention to Roos Tor which lay 800m away. A gentle climb up found me 15 minutes later climbing up onto the rock next to the range marker. As I said previously, this Tor is one of my favourites and I decided to stay a while to enjoy a cuppa and the peace & quiet. I setup my Crusader Cooker and boiled my water to make the tea while taking in the sights and sounds. The views from Roos Tor are extensive and on a good day you can see a good ten miles or more up to the north Moor and right out to Shell Top to the SE. Unusually there was no wind whatsoever and this meant that the bugs were out in force including some rather nasty little beetles which were very keen to eat my face and horse flies that were making short work of any other exposed flesh and after about 90 minutes of being eaten alive it was time to move on.
Great Staple Tor sits about 500m directly south of Roos Tor and is unmistakable by the fact of its granite gateway; two large granite stacks sit astride the summit looking as though they have been placed there by hand. The vast chunks of rock are just a freak result of weathering over the thousands of years they’ve sat there as are all of the Tors that litter the Moor. As I approached the summit there was a little heard of Dartmoor Ponies complete with foals in tow that were sheltering from the sun against the granite stacks. Clearly life for these adorable animals is hard. In the summer they are forced to seek out water and shelter from the sun and in the winter, the Moor is harsh. Despite this they thrive on the Moor and Dartmoor certainly wouldn’t be the same without them.
I was on the home stretch now…. and it was downhill all the way after the best part of 1200ft of climbing in the first 2 miles of the walk. Continuing south I soon came to Middle Staple Tor, an impressive Tor in its own right but certainly outshone by its bigger sibling further up the hill. Swiftly on and down to Little Staple Tor which you could easily pass without paying it any attention at all. As you approach it from the north it appears to be a few granite boulders and it’s not until you pass it you realise it actually continues down the hill below it. As I passed Little Staple Tor I entered a large area of ferns and clitter. I picked my way carefully through as there have been lots of reports of increased numbers of Adders being seen on the Moor due to the very warm weather. The Moor is covered in snakes however for the most part you rarely see them. Adders are very shy and the first sign of a person and they normally disappear. Over the years I’ve seen plenty of both Adders and Grass Snakes on the Moor and have only had one close encounter because I always try to be aware of where they may be and skirt around those areas. My only close up encounter happened only because I decided to take a short-cut through some ferns. While I pushed through I looked down only to see an adder right in front of my boot as it desperately tried to get out of the way of the idiot who’d disturbed its day of sunbathing.
I arrived back at the car hot and thirsty but I didn’t even have time to get an ice cream from the ubiquitous Cox Tor ice-cream van before I headed home. Although not a hard walk or particularly far, this is one of my favourites because it takes in some of the best (IMHO) Tors on the Moor. It can be easily extended to visit White Tor or to carry on along the ridge from Roos Tor and around to Great Mis Tor.
RouteDownload my GPX file