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Scarey Tor

Skir Tor, Skurry Tor

Scarey Tor is a small, broken granite tor that is found above the East Okement River near to Cullever Steps and beneath the impressive range of tors that stud Belstone Common, meaning that it is often overlooked. Do not make that mistake, though, as there is an abundance of interest on the tor that makes it well worth a visit.

At the tor there is, on the south side very close to the summit, an abandoned millstone that rests on an angle, and there is more cut rock on the elongated, albeit heavily weathered, rock ridge that mounts the north slope of the hill. Another millstone can be located to the south of the tor at SX 60659 92366, this containing a tiny hole in the centre that was spotted by Steve Granger. Okay its summit rocks are a bit disappointing but rounding them on the north-west side there is a large split outcrop above a considerable clitter where much of the main substance of the tor seems to have toppled. It also a picturesque spot set as it is above the river. As the artefacts show the tor was partly plundered for its granite and that too might have diminished its stature. The vista from Scarey Tor is surprisingly very fine, despite its relatively meagre altitude; it embraces the East Okement's departure from the high moor where it enters the magical glen of West Cleave, bounded on its west (left) side by Halstock Wood. The ruin of Watchet Hill Cottage and the craggy outcrop of Cleave Tor are seen in the distance too with, beyond, the rolling fields of Devon. The tors on Belstone Common to the east assume impressive grotesque shapes, with an incredible amount of clitter blanketing the hill. To the south-west are the cascades on the river below Cullever Steps that are known locally as 'Slipper Stones' (Hemery 1983).

The name of 'Scarey' Tor is a misnomer, as the true appellation that is used by the moormen is 'Skurry Tor'. It is most likely another consequence of misinterpretation by the Ordnance Survey that has resulted in the modern-day spelling. Hemery (1983) suggests that the tor "obtains its name from its situation opposite the skurry fields of the ancient Higher Halstock Farm..." But the author also erroneously remarks that it was "not mentioned by Crossing" which is strange because although referred to only in passing, Crossing (1912) makes mention of 'Skir Tor' (E. Ockment) twice in his Guide to Dartmoor. The most probable theory is that 'Skir' comes from 'Scar', which in Geography terms can mean "an isolated or protruding rock" or "a steep rocky eminence" which seems to be the likely origins of 'Scorhill' near to Gidleigh which too possesses a lone outcrop, known as Scorhill Tor.

On approach to the tor from the south, you may pass a stone inscribed 'WD' at SX 60736 92382, which is one of three known stones in the area. Mark Fenlon's (2019) article about Okehampton Range explains that the range was originally split into two but that a third was added "in an effort to make better use of the leased area." However, this was located on Watchet Hill and created a bit of a stir among the residents of Belstone who complained about the noise generated from these military activities, so the range was moved further away to Scarey Tor.

Scarey Tor
The map above is not a navigation tool and we recommend that the grid reference shown below is used in conjunction with an Ordnance Survey map and that training in its use with a compass is advised.
Grid Ref:
SX 6070 9240
Tor Classification:
Rock Type:
Ordnance Survey
Eric Hemery
Eric Hemery (1983): High Dartmoor
Merriam-Webster: Definition of 'Scar'
Dartefacts (accessed 2021): Millstone South of Skurry Tor
Mark Fenlon: Dartmoor News Issue 173 March/April 2020: Dartmoor Boundary Stones - Revisited

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