Monday 22nd October saw our 21st working day on Devonport Leat. The day was dull, being heavily overcast and if I remember correctly, not a single sunbeam penetrated through the clouds.

As ever, we were removing scrub growth in the leat bed and on its close banks, paying particular attention to the lip of each bank. There are some very mature trees in this area and most of these have to be left, partly because they are beyond our capabilities and partly because they were not marked for removal by National Park personnel.

Another consideration in this area is that we are working ‘bang-slap’ next to the road where it will be very difficult for new trees to get established in the future e.g. because of trampling by passers-by etc, so we have to be even more circumspect in what we remove.

The length of the leat that was cleared was measured afterwards with a GPS unit and  recorded at 235 metres (+/- 5 metres each end under the trees). This great rate of progress is  due very much to having a length of about 105 metres where there was almost nothing to be cut – it was a very open stretch of the leat – but there is still work ahead!

Leat work party at lunch

Leat work party at lunch – click the photo to see a larger version.

The volunteers today were Barbara & Roger, Bill, Bob, Chris, Derek, Elaine & John, Helen, Ian, John & Rachel, Josie, Nigel & Stephanie, Sylvia and Val – who, along with Alison, Amy, Liegh and Wendy from Western Mortgage Services and myself, made a total of 22 people.

WMS volunteers

Western Mortgage Services volunteers enjoying a well-earned lunch break.

It seems that a blog report on a leat work day wouldn’t be complete without mention of cake! Not wishing to break with this tradition, I must say “Many thanks” to both Elaine and Stephanie for their efforts today – Elaine brought a carrot cake and Stephanie brought a chocolate cake – they were both much-appreciated! And there’s a photo to prove it …….

Cake time on the leat!

Cake time on the leat!

To be serious, we like cake, although this, of course, is a lighter side to what we do!

Today, quite a lot of the bigger ‘logs’ went into the habitat piles where they will provide homes for wood-boring insects, hopefully for many years to come. I would like to see a bit more of this, where the logs are hidden from the view of itinerant wood gatherers!

If you would like to experience voluntary work on Dartmoor, out in the open air, conserving archaeology, doing something that can improve the biodiversity of an area, then contact Dartmoor Preservation Association, here.