Dartmoor: Blackingstone Rock and its outliers
Despite its towering dome poking above many vantage points on East Dartmoor, Blackingstone Rock, or Blackystone as it is also known, is relatively hidden away behind Pepperdon Down. It is protected by narrow lanes, thwarting the coaches that, were it accessible, would surely visit.
The car park is modest, at most half a dozen cars could fit, which suggests that you will likely have the rock to yourself when you visit.
As you cross the road, there is a narrow path that winds its way around the western wall, where the best of the rocks horizontal layers can be seen.
Naturally, a significant site such as this has its legends. William Crossing, in his guide to Dartmoor , tells us; "Like Hel Tor, it is seen for many miles round, but according to tradition there was a time when these tors were not to be seen at all. This tells us that on the hills on which they are placed King Arthur and the Evil One once took their stand and threw quoits at each other, an encounter in which the latter was defeated. As the quoits fell they became changed into rocks, and thus the masses that we now look upon were formed."
In 1981, Dartmoor National Park Authority purchased the land, securing access for the public. Stepping onto the granite shelf before the staircase to the top, look out for an engraving celebrating the 60th anniversary of the national park. The inscription reads; "D.N.P, 60, 1951-2011"
|Those steps to the summit.|
Love it or hate it, for some a visit to the rock would not be complete without scaling the steep, narrow staircase to the summit. My dislike for the eyesore, mixed with a fear of heights, has put me off ascending before, but it would not do the rock justice if I did not mention the top.
|The view to Mardon Down|
With wobbly legs, the summit floor is uneven, and particular care should be taken, pot marked by a number of interesting rock basins, some in a better state than others. The anxiety aside, it is quite a 360 degree view!
|Rock basin on the summit|
|Rock basin on the summit|
|Looking towards the south, and rock basins|
Making it down the stairs and resisting the urge to kiss the floor, many will leave the area, but I urge you to head east on a path into the woodland, where you will discover more outcrops.
Not far within are a collection of three granite outcrops documented by Tim Jenkinson. Once suggested to be a possible site of William Crossing's lost Druid's Altar, but now known not to be, with that particular feature being found, by yours truly, about 800 metres to the south-west.
They are pleasing to the eye, and the woodland setting adds to their appeal. They have no name that I am aware of, but as they reside on the hind of Blackystone, they should be associated with it. I just know them as its eastern outcrops.