It can be all too easy to look at a topographic map of the UK and think that Wales, North England and Scotland are the only places worth hill walking in the country.
However, if you can look past elevation as your primary goal and consider remoteness, beauty and intrigue as worthwhile targets, then you will take a lot of pleasure from walking in the South West - a land of rocky tors, misty moors and rugged coastline.
One walk I have taken in the this wonderful part of the world that particularly stands out is an ascent of High Willhays in Dartmoor, Devon.
Although at a little over 2,000ft it can't match the 3,000ft monsters of Snowdonia and the Cairngorms, High Willhays is still the highest point south of the Brecon Beacons and, with a prominence of more than 1,700ft, affords those who climb it a magnificent view on a clear day.
Sadly, as is common when you venture out into the British hills, my ascent was beset by the infamous moor mist. But while this might have restricted the views, it certainly added an aura of mystery to the day and challenged my OS map reading skills to the full as I tramped through the moss looking for the summit.
The journey begins at the Meldon Reservoir, which is situated just outside Okehampton on the main A30 road. Leave your vehicle in the car park and walk along the paved path across the dam at the northern end of the lake.
Turn right and walk down the southern bank of the reservoir for a short while before taking the gravel footpath up the flanks of Longstone Hill. This is probably the steepest section of the walk and you'll puffing a little by the time that the track levels off and begins heading due south.
Eventually this footpath will end and, once you reach the rock formation of Black Tor, you'll have to start tramping due east through the grass, moss and bog up the gently sloping sides of High Willhays. If it's raining or the ground is damp. Waterproof hiking boots
and gaiters will come in handy as you'll frequently be up to your shins in the stuff.
It's at this point you will need to start taking care if it's misty because there's no obvious trail to follow and the gently sloping nature of the hill coupled with poor visibility can make it pretty tricky to know where you're aiming - but that's why you'll take a map and a compass
with you, of course.
There's all sorts of rocky formations dotted around Dartmoor (the tors) so if the area's shrouded in mist it can be easy to mistake one of these for the summit. Once you've found the real top of High Willhays using your OS map to discern which pile of rocks marks the summit, there's plenty of natural benches on which to take a pew, have a celebratory tot of whisky (if you follow that tradition too and aren't driving) and (hopefully) take in the extensive views across the rolling hills of Dartmoor and into the neighbouring counties beyond.
Once you've reached the summit of High Willhays it's easy to do a spot of peak bagging on the way back to the car, heading due north across the ridge to the marginally lower summit of Yes Tor (also over 2,000ft). Yes Tor's sprawling rocky top makes a good waypoint from which you can begin your descent in a westerly direction back towards the footpath that encircles Langstone Hill.
Upon reaching it, simply head back the way you came earlier, up over the shoulder of Langstone Hill and skirting back around the reservoir to the car park.
A word of warning
Aside from the obvious issues with getting lost on the moor in the mist and rain - you must bring a map and compass, as well as warm and waterproof gear, like jackets and waterproof over trousers
even if you set off in sunshine - there is also the small matter of High Willhays' periodic use as a live firing range by the MoD.
Therefore, it's well worth checking about access before you travel. If this isn't possible and you arrive at the site to find the red flags flying, under no circumstances should you attempt the route. It also goes without saying that should you find any shells or casings on your walk you should most definitely not pick them up and take them home with you as a souvenir.
If this walk sounds a little too much for your liking, Dartmoor is littered with smaller tors that you can park at the foot of and make an easy five-minute hike to the top for fabulous views.
And if you've got young kids with you, they'll love scrambling over the rocks at the top, just make sure you've packed the children's waterproof trousers
too. Many of the tors are also used as 'letterboxes', a local tradition where people leave stamps and visitor books in waterproof boxes across the county and those who find them use the stamps to mark their own books as part of an ever-growing collection.