Finale of the Foster 500, Elsford Rock and Rose Cottage Rocks

Well this was it, the last ones. The final 2 on my Foster 500 list. Those that have read my website posts for a while now will say that I’ve been here before. Very true, back, what feels like a lifetime ago, I finished my initial list of 287 back in February 2017. Well that was extended once and then again, tinkered with and finally settled on 500. I’m pretty sure that number will not grow again, although if I do visit a better outcrop on my list I might swap one out (caveat has now been inserted!!) I wanted to finish on Elsford Rock, this one has been on my list for a fair while now (probably the day after finishing the original 287), and it would have been a cracker to finish on, however the route I wanted to take meant that Rose Cottage Rocks would be last, now its not the best outcrop, but it is a belter of a view and that will do for me, after all my list has view right at the top of reasons to visit. Not rock type, weathering, layering or anything like that. Views and then walk to it are the top. This walk was a good one, a mix of woodland, water, outcrops, cleaves, good paths, lanes and views. And was a fine way to finish what has been an adventure around a corner of England. I don’t mind admitting that I had a bit of water in the corner of my eyes at the end. But its not the end, lets be honest, we can do it all again!

Start – Moretonhampstead parking

Route – Blackingstone Rock – Shillyrock – Kennick Reservoir – Slade Rocks – Little Trenchford Tor – Trenchford Tor – Lower Elsford Farm – East Wray Cleave – Elsford RockWray Cleave South TorWray Cleave Middle TorWray Cleave Wood TorRose Cottage RocksPepperdon RocksPepperdon Down – Blackingstone Rock

Distance – 9 miles    Start time – 10.30am    Time taken – 5hrs 45mins Highest Point – Blackingstone Rock 345 metres

Weather – Blue skies, warm and sunny

© Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey FL 2021 SF
The previous walk had been about the Holwell bluebells so it was nice to see some more right by the parking at Blackingstone Rock
The walk to the top of Blackingstone Rock isn’t long but does involve these steps, not the favourite of some people but I don’t mind them
The view from the top on a day like this is pretty good though Hameldown back left all the way to Cosdon Hill which is just right of middle
Haytor is also seen were I was on my previous walk
Down and on the lane towards Kennick reservoir, looking back to Blackingstone Rock
Tree tunnel, I head left up that bank in a sec to head in to find Shillyrock. its in an area used for plantations and tree felling so I come at weekends when its lacking people
Heltor Rock is just right of the trees as I reach Shillyrock, even more felling has happened between here and the road in the previous picture, so its a more open stroll now
Shillyrock or Druids Altar
Back on the lane now and another view to Haytor on the left with Hound Tor and Chinkwell Tor to the right
Slade Rocks, its better to come in winter when the greenery isn’t here as there are a fair few outcrops here but they are just smothered in late spring and summer
Kennick reservoir
Little Trenchford Tor
And 50 metres away is Trenchford Tor
Now I knew we had, had a fair bit of rain in May, but Trenchford reservoir was far fuller than I thought it would be, obviously these trees are normally not in the water!
Now I have been chasing these for a while now. The male ones with the orange tip on them are still absent but I managed to finally get a female one as I walked to the road to the west of Trenchford reservoir
Lower Elsford Farm and a bonus Dartmoor 365 square picked up
I walked through the grounds of the farm and holiday cottages and picked up the path heading into East Wray Cleave, about 20 metres past this stile you will drop on to a track, you can head downhill from there to the A382 and East Wray Barton, however I turned right and paralleled the farm towards Elsford Rock
Hound Tor and Chinkwell Tor in view with a bit of zoom
A speckled yellow moth
This is a bit of a special one a Pearl-Bordered fritillary
Now the idea was to visit this rock last, its been on my list a fair while and thought it might make a good last one. It if you head up from the track, up a steep rise you reach this gate, there was no private sign on it so I headed through to have a closer look
The view from the gate
Elsford Rock, these boulders are pretty huge and tightly packed into this small copse. I spoke to the owner of the farm here who was happy for me to look around, and I walked back through the gate with him, and asked him if I could get back to the lane to the east of Elsford Rock. He showed me through the metal gate in the corner and I assume that is one way to get down to this rock in the future. I also perhaps could have carried on along the track I was on before, and perhaps made it from East Wray Cleave to Wray Barton Cleave but I wasn’t sure so went for the road.
Like buses, another Orange Tip
Back on the lane
Roadside hemlock
I had left the lane to head down to the end of Wray Barton Cleave wood along a permissive path, unfortunately the permissive path is rarely used so the grass was over knee high, and some of the path was over the fence on the right of this picture, which was unwalkable.
Cosdon Hill as I cross another stile
First tor in this wood that I hit was Wray Cleave South, which was about 50 metres into the wood, a nice easy start and I picked up the path along the top of the woods
I scared a group of deer here which took off down the hill. This is Wray Cleave Middle
Another nice batch of bluebells above Wray Cleave Wood Tor, the path out of the woods is just over there past that central tree
Wray Cleave Wood Tor or at least the top of it, the bigger bits are lower down. I didn’t visit the whole tor but instead left the woods
This path took me through a farm, the sun was very warm here so on with more suncream and a drink to enjoy that view
Lower Rose Cottage Rocks in the trees, but I’m heading for the main outcrop
Moretonhamstead with Cosdon Hill behind
Now this is it, Rose Cottage Rocks, a flat ish group with plenty of greenery on them
A few bluebells and the high point of the rocks, there was a bench here but it has been removed possibly by the owners of the cottage which is just the other side of those scotts pine trees
However the view was fantastic and a great place for a view and to sit and think about the achievement.
A brown silver line moth
Pepperdon Rocks, just a short distance from Rose Cottage Rocks, the same fine views to central Dartmoor aroound Hameldown
Pepperdon Down Rocks with Mardon Down in the distance, as I begin to head back to Blackingstone Rock
And here it is again, Blackingstone Rock and the car. So what to do next, well I have the coastal path to do, I have loads still to do of that, I reckon I’m only a fifth done so far. The Wainwrights in the Lake District, I’m still on 163 for those since October 2019 (hopefully the clowns don’t lock us down again). I have Wales booked soon and eyes on Peak District walks as well. I have a second trip around this 500 list and I reckon I have 12-18 months of walks to finish that and finally the Dartmoor 365 which will help with the second round of the 500 list. So I need to put my best foot forward again then, followed by the other one and repeat!

14 thoughts on “Finale of the Foster 500, Elsford Rock and Rose Cottage Rocks

  1. Well done, Stephen. It has been an absolute pleasure to follow your journey and I can relate as I am doing the same, with only 10 tors left on my list now and many 365 squares yet to do. Also well done for inadvertently stumbling across the landowner of Elsford Rock… it’s great to speak to a friendly owner and I have found that they often get a lot of joy showing off their granite! If you are after any other challenges then do take a look at the Dartefacts index and classification. Crosses is quite a popular one I think, but obviously 365 and 1044 are up there too. Us baggers get quite competitive!

    All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations! And that walk looks particularly stunning in the sunshine and with bluebells still blooming. Of course what I am most impressed about , are all the butterflies and moths you saw. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats! I too like lists, not for the sake of completing them, I’m not dedicated enough for that, but for taking you to places you wouldn’t otherwise visit. Apart from a couple of dreary hills it’s mostly given me some some superb new walks.

    Great views from this walk though

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have to agree, I started with my tors list a while ago alongside the Wainwrights. But have added the 365 list, the coastal path and a second round of the tors. It’ll keep me going and no doubt by the time I’ve finished the next one I’ll have added more lists 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Since I never manage to finish lists or projects, usually because I get distracted by other things, or because of general lethargy, I’m highly impressed. This looks like a lovely corner of the world, particularly nice to see all those bluebells.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I managed to drop on 2 walks at the end of May which both had some fantastic bluebell displays. This one and my Holwell bluebell walk. I’m glad I’ve completed this list and hopefully my Dartmoor 365 list will mean I get to visit and revisit lots more of Dartmoor


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