On Saturday 18th May, one week early because of the DPA AGM, 17 members and friends met at Meldon Dam car park. It was a rather grey day but we were dry! The walk started with a fairly steep slope down to the woods.
On reaching the woods, just at the entry, there is a hedge of beech trees the roots of which are almost hiding the hedge (wall?) from view.
The first manmade item of interest was an unexplained embankment, quite high, that had bridge abutments with a field gate between them. Close to it is a tin mine adit into the hill. There are recorded shafts in the ground above here.
We encountered two clam bridges on this walk – this one we crossed for a short time and then we came back over it again.
Right beside the bridge is an old water wheelpit – the gate on the end of the bridge can be seen in the photograph. This wheel was fed by a leat and reservoir and was used to drive flat-rods over the river (West Okement) to pump out the old limestone quarry. Another wheel nearby was fed by a leat from the Red-a-Ven.
Waste material (chert?) was brought over the river (by tramway?). There are appropriate bridge abutments over the track we were on. It was dumped by tramway into finger dumps.
From near here there is a view of the Meldon viaduct.
There are various wild flowers in bloom at this time of year.
The old limestone quarry, used to produce lime in the nearby kiln to “sweeten” the land for agriculture, is surrounded by chert and it is mostly this that is left – the limestone was dug out at a depth equivalent to the height of the viaduct. Pumping out the water that drained into the pit probably made the exercise uneconomic.
The old quarry is now a deep pool.
A lime kiln was built near the quarry with an inclined plane to tram stone up to fill the kiln.
There followed a pleasant section of the walk under the viaduct …..
The section ended with a steep descent to a second clam bridge.
Across the river, the bluebells were still present although they were beginning to be “past their best”.
Nevertheless, the flowers were worth seeing.
A second kiln is found east of the river, this was on an Okehampton Estate map dated 1790 and it served nearby small quarries on this side of the river.
This view was obtained by crawling through the open grate and pointing the camera straight up at the sky!
Very close to the kiln is the believed site of a crushing shed where finger dump waste was crushed for ballast on the railway and beyond that was the turbine house where a water-powered turbine provided electricity for the quarry.
Up the valley, the dam.
Aplite, a rock bearing rare minerals, was quarried here and was utilised partly by a glass factory from about 1919 to 1922 when it closed.
The viaduct is hard to escape from!
So, too, is my camera for the group photograph!
As we progressed along a “mountain” track, the dam loomed ever nearer.
The spillway system of the dam is a stepped system to dissipate energy that might otherwise erode the structure.
There is a surveyor’s pillar at each end of the dam that was used to check angles and curve of the dam as it was built.
The dam was recently fitted with an anti-submarine net, or so some would have you believe. There is a float in the left end of the photograph. The cable is apparently installed to “snag” certain items of rubbish and flotsam reaching or going over the dam.
There is quite a good view of the curve in the dam from the central area where there is a wider section that juts out into the lake.
The photograph above was obtained by poking the camera out over the edge of the parapet and trusting to luck, pointing down!
The group once again seemed to enjoy the features they had seen – and there is a lot to see at Meldon.