Great Staple Tor

Dartmoor, Here We Go Again

When I’m short of time, there are generally two places I’ll go to get my photography fix.  If I’m in the mood for creating coastal images I’ll head to Dawlish Warren and if not, I’ll go to Dartmoor.  I’m very lucky to live so close to Dartmoor, but I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer number of different locations I could select to photograph.

Normally the weather will dictate which part of Dartmoor I will go to, but this time the forecast was generally clear all over Dartmoor.  On clear days I like to shoot from Rippon Tor <insert URL>, but as I’d visited there recently I decided that I wanted another high elevation point to shoot from.  After a little bit of thought, I decided that a visit to Great Staple Tor was in order. 

Like most tors on Dartmoor, Great Staple Tor needs good light to make the most of it.  That probably wasn’t going to be an issue given the forecast so all I was going to need was a few clouds in the sky so I wouldn’t end up with just a blanket of blue.  A little bit of action in the sky always works well when shooting the open moorland of Dartmoor.

Great Staple Tor

As I found on my recent shoot at Rippon Tor <insert URL>, what the weather forecast states and what the weather actually is on Dartmoor can be two very different things.  Arriving at the car park on Pork Hill it soon became apparent that it was going to be a very overcast morning.  Not to be put off, I started my ascent up and soon reached Middle Staple Tor. 


Normally you can see Great Staple Tor from Middle Staple Tor, but all I could see this morning was cloud.  In fact, I had to check my map that I was going in the right direction!  I soon reached my destination though and the cloud started to lift a little and combined with a cup of coffee, my spirits also started to lift.

It was definitely going to be a morning of waiting.  The cloud would clear a little, but then get heavy again.  One minute you could see for miles, the next you couldn’t even see the next tor.  As time ticked by and sunrise came and went, I thought that was it and I wouldn’t be capturing any images that morning.

Then all of a sudden there was a clear spell and I got some morning light on Great Staple Tor.  I quickly took these two images.

Late Morning Light on Great Staple Tor, Dartmoor, Devon - Nikkon D850, Nikkor 16-35 mm f/4 at 21 mm, f/13, 1/6th sec at ISO 64, Lee Filters ND Grad.

Dawn at Great Staple Tor, Dartmoor, Devon - Nikkon D850, Nikkor 16-35 mm f/4 at 21 mm, f/13, 1/6th sec at ISO 64, Lee Filters ND Grad.

Within a few minutes though all that warm light had gone and the sun disappeared behind a bank of cloud.  I would have waited longer to see if the sun would make another appearance, but the sky soon clouded over so I decided that I’d probably had the best of the morning conditions.

While it obviously wasn’t the most productive of mornings, I did at least manage to get a couple of images, so it was far from a wasted trip.  Besides, even if I’d captured no images that morning, watching the day start from high up the moor with a cup of coffee is rarely a bad thing.

Have you ever photographed Great Staple Tor?  Do you shoot a location where the weather can change quickly?  Let me know in the comments below.