Today, Fri. 23rd November, saw the DPA Conservation Team reach a landmark in their scrub clearing on Devonport Leat – we reached the road bridge at the Yelverton end.

My Memory Map / GPS track shows this to be 1.79 km along the 2.04 total, meaning that we have 250 metres left to clear! We’re almost there, now – can’t wait to see the cake!

For those who are uncertain where this bridge is, it can be found by turning left off the main A386 Yelverton-to-Plymouth road, between the bollards in the middle of the road, a few yards before the Crapstone turn-off (which is on the right). There is a small car park just after you make the turn. Most of the DPA volunteers park across the road, on the old WW2 Harrowbeer aerodrome, because of the limited parking space.

The reason for this being a landmark is that there are not many landmarks along the leat. The ones that I can think of are (1) the tunnel exit – where we started work (2) the tunnel entrance, (3) the small clapper bridge near the mature oak we left in the leat, (4) the golf tee and bridge seen after some very thick scrub, (5) the run of gorse that we cleared, (6) the “main” road bridge down across the golf course, (7) the mile post on the tramway, (8) a small clapper bridge, (9) today’s road bridge, (10) another small sluice/bridge nearby, (11) the cycle path bridge, (12) the side channel from the aerodrome and (13) the leat coming out under the main road from the Yelverton direction.

The weather over the last few days had been horrendously wet and when I arrived at the work site Derek was already working at unblocking the Devonpost leat. There is a sluice (then blocked) that drains into the nearby Plymouth leat (built by Sir Frances Drake) and once that was cleared, the Devonport leat started draining quite quickly. The Devonport leat takes drainage from the Harrowbeer aerodrome at a location we have yet to reach.

The weather today, which is normally good on leat days, did not disappoint – the sun actually shone weakly for a while in the afternoon! In fact, someone present was sure that I have sold my soul just to have good weather when I want it! I can assure you that, aside from watching the weather forecast, throwing the bones and interpreting them fervently, there is nothing else to it!

Work party on the small road bridge. Click the image to see a larger version.

This was our 23rd work day and I want to thank Chris, Derek, Elaine & John, Helen, Ian, John & Rachel, Mally, Roger, Stephanie, Sylvia and Val, with myself making a total of 14 volunteers. An updated statistic from this is 1.79 km / 23 work days = 77 m per work day.

Today we were favoured with three types of cake from Mally – ginger, lemon drizzle and date & almond. They were all very tasty – what more could a volunteer ask for?

While we reached the bridge today and, indeed, went beyond it, there are still a couple of marked trees just before the bridge to take down. One is a birch, I think, that is growing on the lip of the bank at an angle of 45° over the road and cycle track that is putting tremendous pressure or tension on the bank and constitutes quite a hazard. The other is quite a large tree that is rooted in the bottom of the leat.

Further down the leat, we have decided to leave two marked ash trees, partly because they may exceed our capabilities plus they might be among the 2% of ash trees that are believed to be resistant to the now-dreaded ash dieback disease (Chalara fraxinea).

When we were finished, we regrouped at the Rock Inn, Yelverton, for our usual debriefing and discussion session. Our next work day is on Friday 7th December. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us via the DPA web site.