Tavy Cleave and Hare Tor Walk

Peter Tavy, Tavy Cleave, Tavistock, Devon, PL19 9LZ

Walk deep through the heart of a magical cleave and then take in far reaching views from Hare Tor and Ger Tor.

DISTANCE: 4.5 miles moderate/difficult walking (9 miles difficult)
CAR PARKING: At Lanehead (SX 537824)

About this walk

Some of this walk is within the Dartmoor Firing Range so check times before heading out.

Just when I think I’ve seen all of what the moors can offer, it throws up something else. The hidden valley of Tavy Cleave showed me a more rugged and moodier side with plenty of breathtaking views. The only thing missing was a bit of sunshine!

After a windy drive along lanes from Mary Tavy you’ll emerge at a car park – Lanehead (SX537 824). From here head to the right (south east) down a track and then around to left where you will find a leat.

This leat dates from the early nineteenth century and was part of the old copper mining industry. It’s known as Wheal Friendship Leat or Reddaford Leat and in present day runs about four and a half miles.

Keep on the right hand side of the leat as you follow it along and around to the left under Nat Tor. You will start to get tantalising glimpses of the cleave ahead. A cleave is a steep-sided valley and this one rises up from the river Tavy forming a breathtaking landscape.

Once you get to the head of the leat, you’ll see a grey building. Keep left and follow the river. It’s not much of a path from here. Sometimes you’ll be walking along the riverbank on a little track, other times you’ll be scrambling over boulders. This is not for the faint hearted, however the views are worth it!

The large tor you’ve been seeing for a while is Ger Tor, which you will eventually pass by. It really feels like you’re in the wilds of nature here, and you can enjoy the rapids, wildlife and flora and fauna of the cleave.

There are, of course, some legends associated with such a magical place and you can find them here.

Follow the river all the way up to where it meets with Rattle Brook and then turn left, leaving the river Tavy behind.

[For a longer walk cross Rattle Brook and follow the river up to Sandy Ford (SX572 8835) then visit Fur Tor (SX 588 831), before retracing your steps back to Sandy Ford.]

The path next to Rattle Brook is more of a narrow animal path, and there are a couple of them, but if you keep the river in sight you’ll be heading the right direction for a boundary stone, which marks the river crossing point at Deadlake Foot (SX561 841).

The boundary stone is marked with WD 21 and is one of 26 erected by the war department to mark out the Willsworthy firing range. They date from about 1900 and mostly follow the boundary of the old Willsworthy Manor.

From here you’ll see a stream and the path out of this valley (in a north west direction). Follow alongside this until you reach a sort of crossroads. The path and stream split off in different directions. It may be worth taking a compass bearing here as the path to Hare Tor was to the right which didn’t seem like the correct direction, but the compass confirmed it and not too long after walking up this gradual incline, Hare Tor (SX 551843) appeared on the horizon.

Hare Tor sits in the middle of the firing range and is 531m/1742ft high with far reaching views which makes for a stark contrast to the rugged cleave below. Besides the range marker pole, you can spot Widgery Cross on Brat Tor to the north west and Ger Tor to the south west.

From here it’s an easy walk to Ger Tor (SX 547831), about 0.8 of a mile from Hare Tor. At Ger Tor you have the opportunity to stand on it proudly and survey the length of the cleave that you walked up earlier. There are great photo opportunities to be had from here.

Once you’ve had your fill of views, follow the path in a south westerly direction down and across Nattor Down, cross the leat and then you’ll be back at the car park.

View a Google map of the walk here

Written by Gillian Adams www.divinedartmoorwalks.co.uk