Beardown West Tor
Bearddown Tors, Bear Down Tors, Beara Down Tors, Beardon Tors, Beardown Hill, Bairdown Tor, Bare Down Tor
The Beardown Tors are a striking collection of tors in the centre of Dartmoor that represent what were once giant mountains in the heart of the moor above the Cowsic and West Dart valleys. There are several outcrops that stud the hill here culminating in distinctive clusters. Indeed Crossing (1912) speaks of "a group of four", and of these, the West Tor is the one that possesses a mighty ridge of rock that gives the impression of the Swiss/Italian mountain known as the Matterhorn in miniature from some angles including when you are stood atop its crest.
The tor is 513m above sea level making it the highest on the hillside with breathtaking views northward up the ascending slope of Methern Hill above Lydford Tor, and also to the west slightly towards Conies Down Tor that overlooks the lonely Broad Hole from which the Cowsic quits its sheltered valley to become a meandering river through a huge bowl. In the distance and westward are the proud eminences of White Tor and Great Mis Tor, both principal western heights that are seen across the wide expanse of the moor. Much closer the Holming Beam track is easily discernible to the right of the plantation, whereas elsewhere to the south and east the views are far-reaching, especially southward in the direction of Ter Hill and Ryder's Hill forming the lofty southern fen and eastward where Haytor, Saddle Tor and Rippon Tor indicate the eastern extremity of the highlands.
Two military firing range huts sit on the north-west side of the tor and it is also here where you can take in the breadth of the craggy rock face created by two different granites that have been intruded. The entire tor seems to consist of three separate and distinct pinnacles topped with grass that afford the perfect bench from which to soak up the exhilarating vista. It really is worth spending some time examining the granite here as no other tor on Beardown Hill displays such unique contrasts.
It should be noted that although all of the Beardown Tors reside outside of the Merrivale Firing Range, they are close to the boundary (denoted by red and white range markers). In order to reach them from the closest car park at Holming Beam, you will need to pass through part of the Range so please consult the firing times website before setting off. The West Tor is perhaps the chief rockpile of the collection based on its superior elevation and position on the west portion of the hill, and when viewed from much of Cowsic Country and beyond its prominent outline is just begging to be scaled and you will not regret visiting.