On Tuesday 25th April, we had the fourth DPA Short Walk with a smaller number of walks than previously. Numbers were reduced for various reasons of family commitments, holidays, baby-sitting duties etc. It worked out very well because the thirteen of us had a very friendly time and I finally got to talk to everybody instead of being out in front of the previously 20+ groups. I was surprised at some of those present saying how much they look forward to these walks.
We started from the quarry car park at Burrator, first we looked at the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) quarry face, where 280 million-year-old pink granite had intruded into the 380 million-year-old Devonian rocks. The latter were sediments laid down as slates, transformed under pressure into mudstones and then heated enormously (“hornfelsed”) by the intruding granite magma.
We then climbed the slope to join the old Princetown Railway track bed. The railway was opened in August 1883 – the year of the founding of the DPA! It was run by the Great Western Railway as part of their network until 1956. Along the way we saw the original Burrator Platform, opened for workers in 1924 that travelled in to add the extra 10-feet in height to the dams. It was opened to the public in 1925 as Burrator Halt and its name was changed in 1927 to Burrator & Sheepstor Halt.
From the vantage point of the railway, there are good views of Burrator dam.
There are a series of good views from the railway – of Sheep’s Tor, Down Tor, Cramber Tor and Leather Tor …..
A little further on we encounter Devonport Leat. Today, we were in for a special treat – the building at the end of the running section was open – and we could look inside! The South West Water man was checking the instruments inside for monitoring water quality and also the large leaf-gathering device. We learned that at least 25% of the leat water had to go to the reservoir, while the rest was gravity-fed to the local water treatment works. After heavy rain, less water is taken to the local works because of the risk of Cryptosporidium – this is better treated elsewhere. I have walked in the area since 1970, 47 years, and have never seen inside this building.
A major attraction at this point is the “plughole” that leat water goes down to form the Burrator waterfall down to the reservoir …..
Some of the kerbstones at the end of the leat are quite obviously granite setts filched from the old Tywhitt tramway – the holes drilled for fixing the chairs that held the rails can be seen. The old tramway did not pass this way but doubled back on itself on the other side of Yennadon Down because the horses and short wagons could turn tighter corners than the steam railway that came this way.
From here, we proceeded some distance alongside the leat …..
There are sluices at many points along the leat to adjust water flow, we passed this one ….. this leads water off to a side channel down to the reservoir …..
There is a rather strange feature along the leat called Lowery Tank. This has been described as having a deep tank, capped by stone, but I have not found it by prodding with a stick!
Once in the area of “Lowery”, I explained that there are many local locations bearing this name: Lower Lowery, Middle Lowery, Higher Lowery, East Lowery, Lowery Stent, Lowery Tor, Lowery Quarry, Lowery Moor, Lowery Cross 1 (a local name for Cross Gate Cross, also once known as Leather Cross), Lowery Cross 2, Lowery Road and “Lowerthylane” – probably a lane that became Lowery Road.
Medieval Lower Lowery farmstead “present day” is recorded as dating from 1256 AD to 1417 AD ….. there was once an earlier Lower Lowery farm and this was probably what is in records at one time as Middle Lowery.
An aside – Higher Lowery is up the hill from here and ended up as the leatman’s home of Lowery Cottage. Higher Lowery was built in 1807 (the leat was completed in 1801) by the Dock Water Company. Dock was renamed as Devonport in 1824.
Under the eaves of the roof can be seen two larger stones, one is inscribed “ML” after Massey Lopes, landowner, and the other is inscribed “1873”, when it was restored …..
The walk proceeded down to the waterside at the reservoir …..
At the end of the lakeside section of the walk, we made a flying visit to the Burrator Discovery Centre, where we were given a short talk by Emily Cannon, South West Lakes Trust Community & Learning Officer, Burrator.
The walk ended with a section that passed by the waterfall and climbed through the trees back to the car park.