Now there is a blog, I can say something about a new conservation project, involving clearing scrub from a section of Devonport Leat.

The leat was completed in 1801, as “Dock Leat” because Devonport was only named “Devonport” in 1824, several years after the leat was built. It was 27 miles long originally, taking water from the West Dart, Cowsic and Blackabrook rivers.

It was built because Plymouth Leat (also known as Drake’s Leat), built in 1591, 17 miles long, from River Meavy, could not supply enough water to the increasing population of both Plymouth and the nearby, rapidly expanding  docks known as “Plymouth Dock” that was to become “Devonport”.

Today, about 15 miles of Devonport Leat are still running, as far as Burrator Reservoir.

The DPA Conservation Team will clear scrub from a 1¼ mile section of the dry leat beyond Burrator, between Yelverton and Clearbrook. The leat is hidden in places behind almost impenetrable scrub and these parts are impassable for walkers.

There are self-seeded trees, gorse and brambles growing in the leat that need to be cut. Also, there are leaves to rake and remove. The trimmings will be sited to create new micro-habitats for wildlife.

A section of Devonport Leat showing scrub trees growing from the leat bed

A section of Devonport Leat showing scrub trees growing in the leat and many years of accumulated leaves

The aims of the work are to preserve the archaeology of the leat for future generations and to improve the access for the walkers of today.

Volunteers are needed to help with this new project. The work is not arduous and as unpaid volunteers, and with many of us being citizens of the senior variety, we do what we can without over-taxing ourselves. It can be rewarding and fun – occasionally there’s cake! We almost always have a debriefing session in a local hostelry, to relax and rehydrate.

If you feel you would like a day out on the moor, doing something worthwhile, and getting fitter into the bargain, please contact the DPA for more details.