The DPA had an event at Burrator Discovery Centre on Tuesday 25th October 2016, for members and friends – were you there, and if not, where were you – you missed something good?!
The event ran from 11.00 am – 3.30 pm. There were refreshments to start with and then a 1-hour presentation by Emily Cannon, who has done so much to get this project up and running so successfully. The visit coincided with a family day that was mainly about making Conker Men for young children!
The Centre has many activities, from outdoor classes and events for children and young people to family wildlife visits, bat walks and evening lectures by a variety of speakers. Here is a link to an online Newsletter from July 2014 that gives a flavour of what goes on as well as some photos of the location etc. Volunteers play a large part in its functioning.
The project received Lottery and other funding to convert an old building to the modern Discovery Centre and to carry out consolidation work on the ruins of nearby abandoned farm buildings and to erect information boards, as well as making Burrator Arboretum much more accessible to all, including a 1.5 km path and boardwalk for wheelchair users.
Besides “all of the above”, the project has also produced a number of walks leaflets …..
The leaflets comprise a general Welcome leaflet as an introduction to the area, a Railway Walk, two leaflets of walks to The Old Farms and two leaflets following Tinners Trails; they are 50 pence each.
The project has also produced an excellent, informative 57-page, £3.99 spiral-bound book describing many features to be discovered around the reservoir and its water catchment area.
After having our picnic lunch, Emily proceeded to guide us on a 2-hour walk of about 2.8 miles (according to my route plotting on Memory Map).
The first part of the walk followed the track of the old GWR Princetown Railway, opened on 11 August 1883. This ran from Horrabridge, linking with the South Devon and Tavistock Railway, to Princetown.
This is not the track bed of the original horse-drawn tramway of Thomas Tyrwhitt that was the old Plymouth and Dartmoor Railway, whichopened in 1823. This line approached from Dousland and almost doubled back on itself to run on the west side of Yennadon Down. The tight turn was possible with the small horse drawn wagons but not with the new steam locomotives which required much larger turning circles.
From the railway, we had a good view looking down on Burrator dam, also a good view of Sheep’s Tor …..
The photograph above shows the end of the still-running part of Devonport Leat, where the water runs away in two directions: the main flow enters the grille under the small platform into the pumping house. From here, the water is pumped to Dousland Water Works for treatment before distribution to the surrounding areas of Dousland, Yelverton, Walkhampton, Horrabridge and Princetown. The excess water goes down the drain (“plug-hole”) at bottom left and forms the waterfall into the reservoir.
The toadstools above were seen on a dead tree stump and are probably Sulphur Tuft, Hypholoma fasciculare, that are found on the stumps of deciduous as well as coniferous trees.
Lowery Barn, part of nearby Lowery Farm, was improved in 1873 (seen on the date stone at the top of the wall) by the landowner, Massey Lopes.
Lowery Barn has had a new roof fitted to keep the weather out and to help to keep the fabric of the structure from deterioration. Granite corbels can be seen, particularly on the right-side wall, jutting out to support beams for the upper floor. From here, we walked along the road beside the leat, stopping for a while in the ruins of Lowery farm.
Cross Gate Cross, beside the leat, was passed along the way, something of a magnet for your children! From here we did a bit of cross-country across fields down to the site of Vineylake Farm, across the road into the reservoior aream down to the waterside and back to the Discovery Centre.
Several items were pointed out along the way, including recent art works – masks on trees, a dragonfly, rabbit and badger – all the result no doubt of Centre workshops and open days.
The Centre is part of South West Lakes Trust and is well worth a visit for the young and old – you, too, can buy some leaflets and learn a lot – there are many walks to try!