Thursday 28th February saw the DPA Conservation Team achieve an objective – we reached the end of the section of Devonport Leat that we had been tasked with clearing of scrub. The actual length was 2.0 km (1.24 miles). I first walked the leat with our C.E.O. on  Mon. 17 Jan. 2011 and I thought “Wowee, this is more than cutting our usual gorse!” There were some quite big trees in the leat and on its near banks, as well as some “no-go” areas of hawthorn, gorse and bramble. I regarded this as a real “triple whammy” because it was  so impenetrable. After crawling in on my stomach, clad in Barbour and moleskin trousers, there was no sign in certain areas of animal droppings – it was that dense.


The DPA Conservation Team at the end of the leat.

The photograph above shows some of those responsible for the work – there are also others who have worked with us regularly and those who have worked less regularly who could not be with us on this occasion. This photograph was taken “at the end of the road” for the project: this is where the leat emerges from under the A386, having been buried in the Yelverton area.

Today, I must thank Adam, Bob, Chris, Clifton, Derek, Elaine & John, Helen, Ian, John & Rachel, Roger, Sylvia and Val, with myself, making 15 volunteers. A special “Thank you” to Rachel for fulfilling the final role of Cake Queen, with walnut & apple and ginger & treacle! As a team, we have been very lucky to have such a variety of cakes. My thanks, again.

Some photographs of the work as it was going on (photos by Adam Sparkes)…..


Preparing to fell a scrub ash.

The first step is the back cut and then the top cut, to remove a felling notch to determine the direction of fall, after risk assessment, consideration of tree shape, weight distribution, ‘lean’, likelihood of obstructions, proximity of cables, etc …..


Felling the tree.

The next step is the felling cut to bring down the tree …..


Dismantlingpart of the trunk.

Then, larger branches are sawn into shorter lengths …..


Loppering off the smaller branches for the habitat pile.

Also, the smaller branches are removed with loppers and built into the habitat piles …..


The leat, almost cleared of scrub growth.

The trunk is cut into long logs, the stumps are cut short, and the leat is cleared of trimmings – the end of the leat can be seen in the distance.


Ponies eager to get into the recently cleared area and among the habitat piles.

I have kept a record of attendances via “the register” and I can report that there were a total of 469 appearances , or 469 person-days. We started on Fri. 2nd Sep. 2011 and did 26 work days, while a further 5 work days were cancelled due to forecasts of bad weather. We did an average of 77 metres (84 yards) each work day.


“Hello, young fellow” …………. and I wonder what Ian was thinking?

I want to thank everyone who made an appearance as a volunteer, whether it was once or many times – this work would not be done without volunteers. We took an archaeological feature that was clearly visible in places and absolutely invisible and beyond reach for most people in other places and we have made it open and available for all to enjoy. I even received as few comments today from passing cyclists on the cycle track.


One final photograph, they insisted! Once again, my deep thanks to everyone for making it such an enjoyable voyage of discovery. That’s it, “End of the line“, for now …..