Best Routes of Dartmoor

Article by Rich Mayfield
Thursday 30th April 2009
The Area

Dartmoor is full of legends and myths; hounds from hell, devils luring the unaware off huge cliffs to their doom on misty days and quagmires swallowing whole anything that ventures onto the moors.

But the reality couldn't be more different. Scattered around its 368 square miles of National Park is a wealth of graniteTors, quaint villages, deep valleys and beautiful rivers.

The largest Tor is the Dewerstone, situated just a few miles North of Plymouth. This idyllic spot at the head of a valley surrounded by ancient woods provides routes up to 160 ft, mostly at very agreeable grades. By contrast Hay Tor is on top of the moors surrounded by soft grass and commands wide views all the way to the South Coast.

The Climbing

Dartmoor rock contains large quartz and feldspar crystals uniquely weathered thus providing an exceptional climbing experience. Main characters of Dartmoor granite are large rounded breaks covered with features. Easy grades tend to follow large natural features and harder grades venture onto the blank featureless walls.

Dewerstone Dartmoor



Ten most recommended easier lines -. V Diff to Hard Severe

1              Mucky Gully Diff 110 ft Dewerstone.

Not mucky at all just real nice easy scrambling up the big corner.

2              Pinnacle Buttress Diff 120ft Dewerstone

An expedition of four pitches. easily escapable but still in a fine position.

3              Needle Arete V Diff  120ft Dewerstone.

Steep climbing for the grade with a great fag of rock on the second pitch.

4              Colonel's Arete 130ft V Diff  Dewerstone.

Airy climbing up the arete high above the trees, it does have some tricky moves for the grade.

5              Oak Tree Zig Zag V Diff 40ft  Bench Tor

One of the many under rated gems on the moor, offering safe easy climbing.

6              The Vice V Diff 65ft Hound Tor

One of the longer routes here, with well protected moves off large ledges.

7              Raven Gully Sev 4a 100ft Haytor.

Harrowing chimney climbing up the huge corner some may find is hard for the grade.

8              Eagles Nest Severe 40ft  Luckey Tor

Impressive climbing on impressive features not usually found at this grade.

9              Liars Dice Severe 20 ft Hound Tor

Not much more than an extended boulder problem, it's a well protected perfect granite crack.

10           Central Groove 160 ft Hard Severe Dewerstone.

One of the longest routes on the moor, and it's still over too soon.


Ten most recommended VS

1              Mushroom Wall  VS 4c  40 ft  Sheeps Tor.

Short and steep often solo but it does have gear if you prefer to lead it.

2              Suspension Flake VS 4c 40ft   Hound Tor

Once voted best VS in the country by Climber readers! For me, it's over way too soon to carry that accolade, but one of the best VS in the South West.

3              Letterbox VS 4b 60ft  Haytor.

Short and sharp with the crux low down it is often soloed and safe to do so.

4              Leviathan VS 4c 75 ft Dewerstone

A fine arete, which is high in the grade and can feel a little bold, for best results climb it confidently and quickly.

5              Outward Bound HVS 4c 70ft  Haytor.

Super steep, Dartmoor's answer to the grit's Sloth! But easier and much less frightening.

6              Spider's Web HVS 5a 150 ft  Dewerstone

Brilliantly intricate and delicate climbing, on the usually very quiet Raven Buttress.

7              Wind Wall HVS 5a 35ft Sheeps Tor.

A short but great jamming route on immaculate granite

8              Haggis  HVS 5a 40ft Haytor.

One of the very best but only gets one star in the guide.

9              Vala HVS 5a 160ft Dewerstone.

Steep under cutting and lay backing, often eats cams, under rated in the guide book.

10           Climbers Club Direct HVS 5b 160 ft  Dewerstone 

Fierce jamming to start on an uncompromising line of great character.

 Houndtor Dartmoor



Ten most recommended hard lines E1 and above

1              Fruitflancase  E1 5a 150 ft  Dewerstone,.

Classic Dartmoor jamming high on the head wall.

2              Scimitar Direct E1 5b 150 ft  Dewerstone.

Magnificently airy climbing on uniquely weather feldspar holds. Don't get psyched by this one it looks harder and more scary than it really is. Honest!

3              Aviation E1 5b 130 ft Hay Tor.

Varied and sustained that will test the average E1 leader's resolve.

4              Hostile Witness E2 5c 50 ft Bench Tor.

A tricky and powerful route not to be under estimated.

4              Aerobic Wall E2 5c 30ft Hound Tor 

Brilliant climbing often soloed by the brave, it does have good protection for those strong enough to hang around and place it.

6              Interrogation  E3 6a 150ft Hay Tor.

Takes the line of least resistance on amazing holds straight up the middle of the highest part of the face.

7              Dragon Song E3 6a 90ft Dewerstone.

A gem hidden away from the crowds, typical technical granite climbing on perfect rock.

8              Feasibility Study E3 6a 120 Vixen Tor  Access restriction.

One of the best slabs on the Moor, unfortunately access is a problem at Vixen Tor.

9              Limbo Dancer E4 5c 30ft  Hound Tor.

A bold and fearless solo because of a sharp and pointy rock at its base. Don't forget your bouldering mats for this one.

10           Limestone Cowboys E4 6b 45ft Foggintor Quarry.

The only quarried route to make it onto the list, very different to nature granite but brilliant all the same.

The Orange House Climbing are currently providing climbing coaching courses in Dartmoor through planetFearExtra Click for more details. 

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