Sunday, 13 May 2018

Dartmoor: Blackingstone Rock and its outliers

Blackingstone Rock
Blackingstone Rock
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.

An evening at Blackingstone Rock
Blackingstone Rock from the car park
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.

Blackingstone Rock
The north face, from the path as you ascend.

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.

Blackingstone Rock
The south wall comes into view
Blackingstone Rock
Best of the southern view
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."

Celebrating Dartmoor National Park
Celebrating Dartmoor National Park
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"

Blackingstone Rock
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.

Rock basins on Blackingstone Rock
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 basins on Blackingstone Rock
Rock basin on the summit
Rock basins on Blackingstone Rock
Rock basin on the summit
Rock basins on Blackingstone Rock
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.

Into the woods to the east of Blackingstone Rock
Into the woods to the east of Blackingstone Rock

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.

Blackingstone Eastern Outcrops
Blackingstone eastern outcrops

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.

Blackingstone Eastern Outcrops
Blackingstone eastern outcrops
Blackingstone Eastern Outcrops
Eastern outcrops from below
Blackingstone Eastern Outcrops
Eastern outcrop from below.
Atop Blackingstone Eastern Outcrops
Atop the eastern outcrops

So that's my little tour of Blackystone. A wonderful dome shaped tor. All that remains is to show the dome from the south, where it is rarely viewed but is a most striking vantage point.

Blackingstone Rock from the road to the south
Blackingstone Rock from the road to the south