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Emsworthy Rocks

Fitches' Holt, Whortleberry Rock, Omsworthy

Nowhere is the omission of a tor from OS Maps more glaring than with that of Emsworthy Rocks, a huge elongated ridge of giant granite outcrops roughly halfway between Holwell Tor and Saddle Tor. The rocks spread for around 400 metres on an east-west axis and a couple of outcrops are given individual identities by Eric Hemery: Fitches' Holt and Whortleberry Rock. It is unknown which outcrop the latter name refers to but it could be attributed to any of the several along this lengthy ridge of granite. The author describes the area as a "wild scattering of rocks" but despite the prominence of these outcrops previous commentator William Crossing appears to have overlooked them during his explorations.

The tor is among the largest in the vicinity and rivals its neighbours Saddle Tor and Holwell Tor. Particularly impressive when viewed from the Emsworthy enclosures below, the tor presents from this perspective a broken spine of weather-beaten outcrops casting a substantial clitter on the slopes above the old walls, and there are breathtaking views to Hound Tor Combe. The upper outcrops show evidence of feather and tare and there are no less than three small quarries on the eastern, higher side below the flat summit where, close by, there are signs of abandoned rails, these now mostly obscured once lining a branch of the disused tramway that begins below Emsworthy Rocks and transported granite off the moor for commercial use. A fine example was noted by Tim Jenkinson at SX 75316 76941 and another further west by Max Piper at SX 74963 77114.

One of the lowest piles of the tor has become famous for its hawthorn tree, a fine backdrop and focal point for composition and popular with photographers who will often accidentally mistake it as part of either Holwell Tor or Saddle Tor despite both locations being at least 500 metres away from Emsworthy Rocks. The tree has recently become popular in several Dartmoor calendars and postcards. This outcrop at the western end possesses a plughole rock basin where weathering at a thin section of the granite has caused the rock to weaken and puncture. Emsworthy Rocks is an altogether stupendous area to explore and its outcrops are among the best that this part of Dartmoor has to offer and is well worth a visit.

Emsworthy Rocks
The map above is not a navigation tool and we recommend that the grid reference shown below is used in conjunction with an Ordnance Survey map and that training in its use with a compass is advised.
Grid Ref:
SX 750 769
Tor Classification:
Rock Type:
Eric Hemery
Eric Hemery: High Dartmoor
Tim Jenkinson (2011): Dartmoor Discovered: Emsworthy Rocks Dartmoor Magazine 104 Autumn Page 46
Bill Ransom (2005): A History of Ilsington. Phillimore and Co Ltd Chichester

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