Home / Dartmoor Places / Blackingstone Rock

Blackingstone Rock

Blackingstone Rock

Blackingstone Rock or Blackystone, as it is always called… Being well placed, and having an elevation considerably over 1,000 feet, this pile forms another point from which a magnificent view is obtained. Like Hel Tor it is seen for many miles around, but according to tradition there was a time when these tors were not seen at all.’

William Crossing, 1990, p. 268.

Drive along the narrow lane that runs up past Kennick Reservoir and you will eventually spot a huge, Christmas pudding-like outcrop of rock looming out of the hedge. Shortly after this first sighting one of those hideously coloured tourist signs will tell you that it is Blackingstone Rock. You will then be invited to drive further on down to a car park from where a short walk will take you to the rock. This outcrop appears like a single huge boil protruding from the landscape, nowhere in its vicinity are there any obvious signs of any other rocks, a real ‘Billy No Mates’ of the geological world. For many, many years Blackingstone Rock has been a place of pilgrimage for the discerning visitor. As William Crossing notes above, the views from the summit of the rock a far reaching in all directions and on a fine, clear day well worth the visit.

As you walk along the footpath that runs along the southern base of the formation you will wonder how on earth one gets to the top without the aid of ropes and crampons. You will also note the lone holly tree that has made its hope in one of the huge, eroded joins of the rock, in winter this can be a grand sight when its flecked with crimson berries. As you round the eastern side of the tor you will breath a sigh of relief when you spot the hand rail and flight of steps cut into the rock. Believe me, the short climb is well worth the energy for as you step onto the summit you will be surrounded by yawning vista all across Devon. At your feet lie numerous rock basins which will testify that what nature can create so can it destroy, no doubt a couple of hundreds years ago these basins would have been deemed to be a Druidical altar.

But how did this huge outcrop come to be? William Crossing suggests that it was because one day long ago, King Arthur and the Devil were having a slight disagreement. King Arthur took his stand on the hill where the Blackingstone now stands and the Devil ensconced himself on the hill where Hel Tor is today. It was decided that the best way to settle this dispute was by hurling a mighty quoit at each other and without a second thought the contest was fought. As the quoits hit the ground they immediately turned to stone thus today we have Blackingstone Rock and Hel Tor. It is interesting to note that Hel Tor lies 1.2 miles to the north east of Blackingstone which considering the size of the respective rocks would suggest they both ate three Weetabix for breakfast that morning.

Blackingstone Rock

Early Postcard

Blackingstone Rock

Blackingstone Rock

Blackingstone Rock

Aerial View

Blackingstone Rock

Lone Holly Tree

Blackingstone Rock Blackingstone Rock

Flight of Steps

Rock Basin

North Easterly View

Hel Tor from Blackingstone

As a tors go, Blackingstone Rock can be said to be among the highest as it’s about 75 feet high which does make for some decent rock climbs. According to what has become the ‘bible’ of Dartmoor rock climbing there are five climbs on the south face and three on the north. These have been given names as evocative as ‘Scruttock’s Old Dirigible’ and ‘Green Lipped Chasm’, (White, 1995, pp. 253 – 254). Some will say that the rock can also carry the accolade of being the most easterly tor, sadly Hel Tor can take that title by about 0.87 of a mile. What Blackingstone Rock can boast is the presence of particularly large crystals the mineral Feldspar with some examples being several centimetres long, this along with it’s typical tor jointing has led to it being classified as a R.I.G.S. (Regionally Important Geological Site), to be precise it is RIGS number 66 in the Devon Rigs Group listing. The actual site upon which Blackingstone stands was purchased by the Dartmoor National Park Authority in 1981 in order to ‘protect the landscape setting of the rock‘ and also to ensure that there would always be public access. So, whether you want to climb Blackingstone Rock via ‘Scruttock’s Old Original’ route or ascend by the conventional steps it will be extremely rewarding, especially on a clear day. It can be found at Ordnance Survey grid reference SX 78645 85601.

Crossing, W. 1990. Crossing’s Guide to Dartmoor, Newton Abbot: Peninsula Press.

White, N. 1995. A Climbers Guide to South Devon & Dartmoor, Leicester: Cordee Publishing.


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

Check Also

Lettaford Chapel

Lettaford is a small hamlet situated on an old packhorse track a few miles to …

One comment

  1. I walked up here last night. What a place! The views were utterly breath taking!
    Am interested to know who built the steps and why? I can’t find any information on this other than the steps were erected in 1870.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.