Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, several reservoirs and dams were built in the area now covered by Dartmoor National Park in Devon, England to supply drinking water to the growing towns in the surrounding lowlands. With its deep valleys and high rainfall, Dartmoor was an inevitable location. New reservoirs continued construction after the establishment of the National Park in 1951. Early schemes to use the moors as a source of drinking water involved the construction of water channels called leats. For example, Drake's Leat took water to the Devonport Leat to the docks at Devonport. Rapid population growth of the seaside communities in the late 19th century and the birth of tourism required a significant improvement in quality and quantity of fresh water; the first Dartmoor reservoir opened in 1861 and heralded a busy era of dam construction which continued through to 1907, by which time the Dartmoor area was the site of five reservoirs. Three more were to follow during the course of the mid to late 20th century.
A fourth, in the valley of the River Swincombe was rejected by the advisory committee of the County Council. A few long-established Dartmoor farms had to be abandoned and disappeared under the water as a result. During years of drought, some ruins can once again become visible. At Fernworthy, for example, low water levels reveal the remains of Fernworthy Farm and a small granite Clapper bridge which once crossed the South Teign River. At Avon dam, hut circles are visible at low water levels. In 2011 an episode of Time Team was devoted to archaeological features discovered in the bed of Tottiford Reservoir
Yelverton is a large village on the south-western edge of Dartmoor, Devon, in England. When the village's railway station opened in the 19th century, the village became a popular residence for Plymouth commuters; the railway is now closed. Yelverton is well known for Roborough Rock - a prominent mass of stone close to the Plymouth road on the fringe of nearby Roborough Down, near the southern end of the airfield, it gave its name to the Rock Hotel, built as a farm during the Elizabethan period, but converted in the 1850s to cater for growing tourism in the area. The area to the south and west of the roundabout at the centre of the village was settled in late Victorian and Edwardian times, with many grand and opulent villas. An area developed at about the same time on an odd shaped piece of land to the south of the Tavistock road is known as Leg o' Mutton Corner. At the beginning of the Second World War, an airfield was constructed at adjacent Harrowbeer as a fighter station for the air defence of Devonport Dockyard and the Western Approaches.
A 19th century terrace of houses, now converted into shops, had to have its upper storey removed to provide an easier approach. One tall building, not altered was St. Paul's Church, but the tower was hit by a plane, resulting in a warning light being fitted; the layout of the runways is still clear and although they are grassed over, the many earth and brick protective bunkers built to protect the fighters from attack on the ground are all still in place. Some American airmen and anti-aircraft battery units were stationed here during the second half of the war. A plane carrying President Roosevelt landed here. To the south of the village is Langton Park, home of Yelverton Bohemians Cricket Club and about 0.5 km south is the named Moorland Garden Hotel serving the Yelverton Golf Club where most of the holes run well down the open moorland to the east. There are several bed and breakfasts in Yelverton, serving the many walkers and visitors to National Trust properties in the area. Seth Lakeman, the Mercury Music Prize nominee, comes from Yelverton.
Former Sadlers Wells Ballet star Maureen Bruce lives in Yelverton. The present Ravenscroft Care Home was built as a private house but in the 1930s became Ravenscroft School and during the Second World War was the officers' mess of RAF Harrowbeer. Yelverton Community Page RAF Harrowbeer Site
Devon known as Devonshire, its common and official name, is a county of England, reaching from the Bristol Channel in the north to the English Channel in the south. It is part of South West England, bounded by Cornwall to the west, Somerset to the north east, Dorset to the east; the city of Exeter is the county town. The county includes the districts of East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge and West Devon. Plymouth and Torbay are each geographically part of Devon, but are administered as unitary authorities. Combined as a ceremonial county, Devon's area is 6,707 km2 and its population is about 1.1 million. Devon derives its name from Dumnonia. During the British Iron Age, Roman Britain, the early Middle Ages, this was the homeland of the Dumnonii Brittonic Celts; the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain resulted in the partial assimilation of Dumnonia into the Kingdom of Wessex during the eighth and ninth centuries. The western boundary with Cornwall was set at the River Tamar by King Æthelstan in 936.
Devon was constituted as a shire of the Kingdom of England. The north and south coasts of Devon each have both cliffs and sandy shores, the county's bays contain seaside resorts, fishing towns, ports; the inland terrain is rural and hilly, has a lower population density than many other parts of England. Dartmoor is the largest open space in southern England, at 954 km2. To the north of Dartmoor are the Culm Measures and Exmoor. In the valleys and lowlands of south and east Devon the soil is more fertile, drained by rivers including the Exe, the Culm, the Teign, the Dart, the Otter; as well as agriculture, much of the economy of Devon is based on tourism. The comparatively mild climate and landscape make Devon a destination for recreation and leisure in England, with visitors attracted to the Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks; the name Devon derives from the name of the Britons who inhabited the southwestern peninsula of Britain at the time of the Roman conquest of Britain known as the Dumnonii, thought to mean "deep valley dwellers" from proto Celtic *dubnos'deep'.
In the Brittonic, Devon is known as Welsh: Dyfnaint, Breton: Devnent and Cornish: Dewnens, each meaning "deep valleys." Among the most common Devon placenames is -combe which derives from Brittonic cwm meaning'valley' prefixed by the name of the possessor. William Camden, in his 1607 edition of Britannia, described Devon as being one part of an older, wider country that once included Cornwall: THAT region which, according to the Geographers, is the first of all Britaine, growing straiter still and narrower, shooteth out farthest into the West, was in antient time inhabited by those Britans whom Solinus called Dumnonii, Ptolomee Damnonii For their habitation all over this Countrey is somewhat low and in valleys, which manner of dwelling is called in the British tongue Dan-munith, in which sense the Province next adjoyning in like respect is at this day named by the Britans Duffneit, to say, Low valleys, but the Country of this nation is at this day divided into two parts, knowen by names of Cornwall and Denshire, The term "Devon" is used for everyday purposes e.g. "Devon County Council" but "Devonshire" continues to be used in the names of the "Devonshire and Dorset Regiment" and "The Devonshire Association".
One erroneous theory is that the "shire" suffix is due to a mistake in the making of the original letters patent for the Duke of Devonshire, resident in Derbyshire. However, there are references to "Defenascire" in Anglo-Saxon texts from before 1000 AD, which translates to modern English as "Devonshire"; the term Devonshire may have originated around the 8th century, when it changed from Dumnonia to Defenascir. Kents Cavern in Torquay had produced. Dartmoor is thought to have been occupied by Mesolithic hunter-gatherer peoples from about 6000 BC; the Romans held the area under military occupation for around 350 years. The area began to experience Saxon incursions from the east around 600 AD, firstly as small bands of settlers along the coasts of Lyme Bay and southern estuaries and as more organised bands pushing in from the east. Devon became a frontier between Brittonic and Anglo-Saxon Wessex, it was absorbed into Wessex by the mid 9th century. A genetic study carried out by the University of Oxford & University College London discovered separate genetic groups in Cornwall and Devon, not only were there differences on either side of the Tamar, with a division exactly along the modern county boundary dating back to the 6th Century but between Devon and the rest of Southern England, similarities with the modern northern France, including Brittany.
This suggests the Anglo-Saxon migration into Devon was limited rather than a mass movement of people. The border with Cornwall was set by King Æthelstan on the east bank of the River Tamar in 936 AD. Danish raids occurred sporadically along many coastal parts of Devon between around 800AD and just before the time of the Norman conquest, including the silver mint at Hlidaforda Lydford in 997 and Taintona in 1001. Devon has featured in most of th
Wistman's Wood is one of only three remote high-altitude oakwoods on Dartmoor, England. It lies at an altitude of 380–410 metres in the valley of the West Dart River near Two Bridges, at grid reference SX612774; the source of the Devonport Leat, at a weir on the West Dart River, is just north of the wood. This is one of the highest oakwoods in Britain and, as an outstanding example of native upland oak woodland, was selected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1964, it is an NCR site and forms part of the Wistman’s Wood National Nature Reserve. The wood was one of the primary reasons for selection of the Dartmoor Special Area of Conservation; the wood is split into three main blocks. These occupy sheltered, south-west facing slopes, where a bank of large granite boulders is exposed, pockets of acid, free-draining, brown earth soils have accumulated, it is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and has been managed since 1961 under a nature reserve agreement with the Nature Conservancy Council, English Nature and Natural England.
There is no active management, but many people visit the site on foot, cattle and sheep have free access where the terrain permits, outside of a small fenced exclosure in South Wood. The vegetation conforms to W17a Quercus petraea-Betula pubescens-Dicranum majus woodland, Isothecium myosuroides-Diplophyllum albicans sub-community in the British National Vegetation Classification; the trees are pedunculate oak, with occasional rowan, a few holly, hawthorn and eared-willow. Tree branches are characteristically festooned with a variety of epiphytic mosses and lichens and, sometimes, by grazing-sensitive species such as bilberry and polypody. On the ground, boulders are covered by lichens and mossy patches – frequent species include Dicranum scoparium, Hypotrachyna laevigata, Rhytidiadelphus loreus and Sphaerophorus globosus – and, where soil has accumulated, patches of acid grassland grow with heath bedstraw and sorrel. In places protected from livestock, grazing-sensitive plants such as wood sorrel, wood rush and bramble occur.
A fringe of bracken surrounds much of the wood. The wood supports 120 species of lichen; the wood is home to a large population of adders. Wistman's Wood has been mentioned in writing for hundreds of years, it is a left-over from the ancient forest that covered much of Dartmoor c. 7000 BC, before Mesolithic hunter/gatherers cleared it around 5000 BC. Photographic and other records show that Wistman's Wood has changed since the mid-19th century. Not only have the older oak trees grown from a stunted/semi-prostrate to a more ascending form, but a new generation of straight-grown and single-stemmed oaks has developed; the oldest oaks appear to be 400–500 years old, originated within a degenerating oakwood that survived in scrub form during two centuries of cold climate. In c. 1620 these old trees were described as "no taller than a man may touch to top with his head". Tree height increased somewhat by the mid-19th century, during the 20th century doubled. In addition, a wave of marginal new oaks arose after c.
1900 doubling the area of wood. Part of the evidence for these changes comes from a permanent vegetation plot located in the southern end of South Wood; this is the oldest known of its kind in British woodland, with a small part having been recorded by Hansford Worth in 1921. The Buller Stone, a boulder to the east of the wood, commemorates an attempt in 1866 to date the trees, when Wentworth Buller felled an oak, it was estimated to be 168 years old. The wood has been the inspiration for numerous artists, poets and appears in hundreds of nineteenth century accounts. One tradition holds; the wood is described in detail and discussed as a point of great interest in The Tree, a 1978 essay on naturalism by English novelist John Fowles. The name of Wistman's Wood may derive from the dialect word'wisht' meaning'eerie/uncanny', or ‘pixie-led/haunted’; the legendary Wild Hunt in Devon is associated with Wistman's Wood – the hellhounds of which are known as Yeth or Wisht Hounds in the Devonshire dialect.
Worth, R. N.. Spooner, G. M.. Worth's Dartmoor. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. Pp. 74–83. ISBN 0715351486
Drake's Leat known as Plymouth Leat, was a watercourse constructed in the late 16th century to tap the River Meavy on Dartmoor, from which it ran 17.5 miles in order to supply Plymouth with water. It began at a point now under water at Burrator Reservoir, from which its path now emerges some 10m lower than the typical reservoir water level, it was one of the first municipal water supplies in the country. The leat was first not surveyed until 1576 when the route was decided. Due to the necessity of following the contours the length of the leat was seventeen and a half miles. In 1581, Sir Francis Drake became Mayor of Plymouth and it was at this time that the idea for the leat was considered by the Corporation of Plymouth; when Elizabeth I called a parliament in 1584, the Water Bill for Plymouth was prepared for presentation. The bill had the following clauses: To provide a supply of water for merchant shipping. To provide water for fire fighting in Plymouth. To scour Sutton Harbour of silt. To improve the poor quality of land on Dartmoor adjacent to the proposed leat.
The bill was passed to a Select Committee chaired by Sir Francis Drake for consideration. Drake proposed an additional clause stating that mills could be erected and operated on the banks of the leat, it gained royal assent and was passed as an Act in 1585 "For the Preservation of the Haven of Plymouth". The town was authorized:"... to digge and myne a Diche or Trenche conteynenge in Bredthe betwene sixe or seaven ffoote over in all Places throughe and over all the Lands and Grounds lyeing betweene the saide Towne of Plymmowth and anye parte of the saide Ryver Mewe als Mevye, to digge, breake and caste vpp and all maner of Rockes Stones Gravell Sande and all other Letts in anye places or Groundes for the conveyant or necessarie Conveyange of the same River to the saide Towne..." Due to lack of funding caused by the war with Spain and the Armada, construction was not started until 1590 and completed in 1591. The construction of the leat was by means of a simple ditch and bank which measured six feet at its widest and was two feet deep.
Its course was deliberately meandering and sloping so that the water would not flow too fast and erode the banks. It was estimated that it took some thirty five men just over four months to complete the construction. Drake took part in the ceremonial turning of the first sod in December 1590. On 24 April 1591, the supply of water first flowed to Plymouth and the leat was blessed by the rector of Meavy. A legend records that at its opening Drake rode a white horse ahead of the water all the way to Plymouth. Drake was paid £200 for the work plus another £100 for compensation to any landowners whose property the course of the leat would have to pass through. In the event he paid out only £100 for construction and £60 for compensation making a tidy £140 profit; the mill, into which the leat flowed, was leased by Drake as were all six of the new mills built in the same year. On completion of the leat it was obvious that little heed had been paid to the original clauses as the leat did not flow to the naval victualling yard at Lambhay until 1645.
It can therefore be seen that the primary purpose was to enable Drake to capitalise on his milling operations. Some of the excess water was made available to the public after it had driven the mill wheels but by 1600 only 30 homes had been connected. Around 1600 an acrimonious dispute arose over the diversion of water from the leat for use in tin mills on Roborough Down. On one side was Thomas Drake, brother of the deceased Francis, who now owned the corn mills lower down the leat; the dispute went to the Star Chamber, the outcome of the proceedings was that in 1603 the tinners were permitted to abstract water for their "two tynne milles knocking mills or classe milles". Harsh winters and a general decline in the condition of the leat brought the feasibility of its continued existence into question; the ever-growing population, the increasing demand on the water supply in Plymouth, meant that a more reliable source and supply of fresh water had to be found, this led to the creation of Burrator Reservoir in 1891.
So, three hundred years after its construction, the upper part of Drake's Leat was lost as the valley was flooded, although lower sections remained for some years. Despite many considerations and plans to put the leat to good use, little has been preserved; the leat was restored during the Second World War, should it have been needed if the city's new supply was damaged. Parts of the leat are still visible on the moor near Clearbrook. Devonport Leat Brian Moseley. "Water Supply to Plymouth". The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History. Plymouth Data. Archived from the original on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2015. "Drake's Leat". CorboyWeb. Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2007-11-15. - a detailed article about Drake's Leat
A leat is the name, common in the south and west of England and in Wales, for an artificial watercourse or aqueduct dug into the ground one supplying water to a watermill or its mill pond. Other common uses for leats include delivery of water for mineral washing and concentration, for irrigation, to serve a dye works or other industrial plant, provision of drinking water to a farm or household or as a catchment cut-off to improve the yield of a reservoir. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, leat is cognate with let in the sense of "allow to pass through". Other names for the same thing include fleam. In parts of northern England, for example around Sheffield, the equivalent word is goit. In southern England, a leat used to supply water for water-meadow irrigation is called a carrier, top carrier, or main. Leats start some distance above the mill or other destination, where an offtake or sluice gate diverts a proportion of the water from a river or stream. A weir in the source stream serves to provide a reservoir of water adequate for diversion.
The leat runs along the edge or side of the valley, at a shallower slope than the main stream. The gradient determines the flow rate together with the quality of the wetted surface of the leat; the flow rate may be calculated using the Manning formula. By the time it arrives at the water mill the difference in levels between the leat and the main stream is great enough to provide a useful head of water – several metres for a watermill, or a metre or less for the controlled irrigation of a water-meadow. Leats are used to increase the yield of a reservoir by trapping streams in nearby catchments by means of a contour leat; this transports it along the contour to the reservoir. Such leats are common around reservoirs in the uplands of Wales. Leats were built to work lead and silver ores in mining areas of Wales, Devon, the Pennines and the Leadhills/Wanlockhead area of Southern Scotland from the 17th century onwards, they were used to supply water for washing ore and powering mills. Leats were used extensively by the Romans, can still be seen at many sites, such as the Dolaucothi goldmines.
They used the aqueducts to prospect for ores by sluicing away the overburden of soil to reveal the bedrock in a method known as hushing. They could attack the ore veins by fire-setting, quench with water from a tank above the workings, remove the debris with waves of water, a method still used in hydraulic mining; the water supply could be used for washing the ore after crushing by simple machines driven by water. The Romans used them for supplying water to the bath-houses or thermae and to drive vertical water-wheels. There are many leats on Dartmoor constructed to provide power for mining activities, although some were sources of drinking water; the courses of many Dartmoor leats may still be followed. Many such leats on the moor are marked on the 1⁄50000 and 1⁄25000 Ordnance Survey maps, such as that serving the now-defunct Vitifer mine near the Warren House Inn. Drake's Leat, constructed in 1591 under the management of Sir Francis Drake, as an agent of the Corporation of Plymouth, to carry water from Dartmoor to Plymouth.
Devonport Leat constructed in the late 18th century to carry water to the expanding naval dockyard at Devonport. Acequia Aqueduct Flume Kunstgraben Roman aqueduct Roman engineering Roman mining
Dartmoor is a moor in southern Devon, England. Protected by National Park status as Dartmoor National Park, it covers 954 km2; the granite which forms the uplands dates from the Carboniferous Period of geological history. The moorland is capped with many exposed granite hilltops known as tors, providing habitats for Dartmoor wildlife; the highest point is 621 m above sea level. The entire area is rich in antiquities and archaeology. Dartmoor is managed by the Dartmoor National Park Authority, whose 22 members are drawn from Devon County Council, local district councils and Government. Parts of Dartmoor have been used as military firing ranges for over 200 years; the public is granted extensive land access rights on Dartmoor and it is a popular tourist destination. Dartmoor includes the largest area of granite in Britain, with about 625 km2 at the surface, though most of it is under superficial peat deposits; the granite was intruded at depth as a pluton into the surrounding sedimentary rocks during the Carboniferous period about 309 million years ago.
It is accepted that the present surface is not far below the original top of the pluton. A considerable gravity anomaly is associated with the Dartmoor pluton as with other such plutons. Measurement of the anomaly has helped to determine the shape and extent of the rock mass at depth. Dartmoor is known for its tors – hills topped with outcrops of bedrock, which in granite country such as this are rounded boulder-like formations. More than 160 of the hills of Dartmoor have the word tor in their name but quite a number do not. However, this does not appear to relate to whether or not there is an outcrop of rock on their summit; the tors are the focus of an annual event known as the Ten Tors Challenge, when around 2400 people aged between 14 and 19 walk for distances of 56, 72 or 88 km between ten tors on many differing routes. The highest points on Dartmoor are on the northern moor: High Willhays, 621 m, Yes Tor, 619 m, The highest points on the southern moor are Ryder's Hill, 515 m, Snowdon 495 m, an unnamed point, 493 m at, between Langcombe Hill and Shell Top.
The best-known tor on Dartmoor is Haytor, 457 m. For a more complete list see List of Dartmoor tors and hills; the high ground of Dartmoor forms the catchment area for many of Devon's rivers. As well as shaping the landscape, these have traditionally provided a source of power for moor industries such as tin mining and quarrying; the moor takes its name from the River Dart, which starts as the East Dart and West Dart and becomes a single river at Dartmeet. It leaves the moor at Buckfastleigh, flowing through Totnes below where it opens up into a long ria, reaching the sea at Dartmouth. For a full list, expand the Rivers of Dartmoor navigational box at the bottom of this page. Much more rain falls on Dartmoor than in the surrounding lowlands; as much of the national park is covered in thick layers of peat, the rain is absorbed and distributed so the moor is dry. In areas where water accumulates, dangerous bogs or mires can result; some of these, topped with bright green moss, are known to locals as "feather beds" or "quakers", because they can shift beneath a person's feet.
Quakers result from sphagnum moss growing over the water that accumulates in the hollows in the granite. The vegetation of the bogs depends on the location. Blanket bog, which forms on the highest land where the rainfall exceeds 2,000 millimetres a year, consists of cotton-grass, Bog Asphodel and Common Tormentil, with Sphagnum thriving in the wettest patches; the valley bogs have lush growth of rushes, with sphagnum, cross-leaved heath and several other species. Some of the bogs on Dartmoor have achieved notoriety. Fox Tor Mires was the inspiration for Great Grimpen Mire in Conan Doyle's novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, although there is a waymarked footpath across it. Sabine Baring-Gould, in his Book of Dartmoor related the story of a man, making his way through Aune Mire at the head of the River Avon when he came upon a top-hat brim down on the surface of the mire, he kicked it, whereupon a voice called out: "What be you a-doin' to my'at?" The man replied, "Be there now a chap under'n?"
"Ees, I reckon," was the reply, "and a hoss under me likewise." Along with the rest of South West England, Dartmoor has a temperate climate, wetter and milder than locations at similar height in the rest of England. At Princetown, near the centre of the moor at a height of 453 metres and February are the coldest months with mean minimum temperatures around 1 °C. July and August are the warmest months with mean daily maxima not reaching 18 °C. Compared with Teignmouth, on the coast about 22 miles to the east, the average maximum and minimum temperatures are 3.0 °C and 2.6 °C lower and frost is at least five times as frequent. On the highest ground, in the north of the moor, the growing season is less than 175 days – this contrasts with some 300 days along most of the south coast of the county. Rainfall tends to be associated with