An edited version of this article appeared in Dartmoor Magazine – Autumn 2013.
Vag Hill occupies a large proportion of grid square SX 6772 and part of SX 6872, but is not shown by name on the Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map 28 (1:25 000). Down on the lower south western slopes of the hill there is a distinctly secluded and fascinating combe that is referred to as ‘Warren House Pit’ by Eric Hemery (1983 page 579). Above this point and tucked under the hillside at SX 6766 7239 is a small compact outcrop of square granite blocks overlooking a huge rock field that sprawls through the trees towards the River Dart. The ruin here occasions the author to describe the outcrop as a ‘former tor’ and to this end I included a description of the area in an article on ‘Nameless Rock Piles’ in a 2000 edition of the Dartmoor Magazine, speculating at the time the possible names of ‘Warren’ or ‘Vag Hill Tor’, the former in relation to the ruined rectangular building of a nearby Warrener’s house.
Following a recent visit to the hill in April 2013 and after conducting an assessment of the area I can now confirm that there is indeed a tor in evidence here, with in addition to the aforementioned outcrop at least another three rock piles nearby, albeit well hidden on the wooded slopes. The most conspicuous of which is a large split crag that stands some 60 metres to the east at SX 6774 7235 and is part enveloped in ivy creeper. When seen from below the rock rises to a considerable height but is so well shrouded in the wood that it is not visible at all when looking at a distance from the south above Aller Brook. In support of this Hemery (p 576) describes the contours here as a ‘natural trough or pit’ and explains that it is ‘concealed from the opposite upper valley side of the gorge’. In essence this part of the tor can only be seen at close quarters. There is another smaller outcrop nearby to the east and below where a larger group of moss and vegetation covered boulders are gathered in the trees.
Best viewed in the Winter or early Spring when vegetation is low the tor on Vag Hill can be reached by proceeding in a southerly direction from the small car park at SX 681733 across level ground and then keeping to the right (west) before beginning the descent towards the river passing beside settlement walls before the hillside steepens sharply. The main square faced outcrop should be reached in a short time, set as it is under the brow of the hill and upon arrival why not sit awhile and enjoy the solitude and listen to the river, I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Hemery E (1983) High Dartmoor: Land and People Robert Hale London
Jenkinson T (2000) Nameless Rock Piles: Field Notes and Photographs Dartmoor Magazine 58 Spring