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This walk: 2013-2-20. Burrator Dam, animal drinking troughs, commemorative plaques, Berra Tor, explosives store, Sheepstor village cross, Sheepstor brook, Burrator House, step stile, bracket fungi, sunken lane, Smallacombe, catkins, Yeo Farm, Marchant's Cross, benchmark, River Meavy ford and stepping stones, Plymouth (Drake's) Leat, Yennadon Crags, Burrator Upper Quarry car park rock exposure.

Walk details below - Information about the route etc.

Link to Google Satellite view of the area - the car park is the yellow/white area near the centre of the map, just left of "Burrator Wood".


Burrator Dam, completed in 1898 .....


The central, spillway, section with surprisingly little water running over the top of the dam after all the rain we have had this winter.


Two-level horse and cattle trough (the main trough) with a sheep trough below (dark brown). This was eerected after the dam was built and animals in the area could no longer each teh River Meavy to drink.


Plaque photographs taken 17th March 2010 ..... .....

1985 commemorative plaque to mark the 400th anniversary of the Act of Parliament authorising the building of Drake's Leat to bring water to Plymouth.

This plaque is located on the right side as the dam is approached from Dousland, just before reaching it. It states that it was unveiled on the 8th June 1985 "to mark the 400th anniversary of Drake's famous leat which was to convey water to Plymouth for over 300 years". This would have been the passing of the Act of Parliament in December 1584, coming into effect in 1585. Drake was engaged in fighting the Spanish shortly after (the Armada event was in 1588). The leat was started in December 1590 and inaugurated with water flowing on 24th April 1591, after six months work.



Plaque to commemorate the enlargement of the dam during  1923-1928.
Transcription .....

Borough of Plymouth
Burrator Reservoir
This stone commemorates the enlargement
of the reservoir from a capacity of 668 to 1026 million gallons.
Alderman RW WinnicottJP Mayor
Chairman of the Water Committee
F Howarth Councillor JE Fillar Vice Chairman RJ Fittal


Plaque to commemorate the opening of Burrator Dam in 1898.  Transcription .....

Borough of Plymouth
Burrator Reservoir
Commenced 1892
James Manserch
Edward Sandeman
Completed 1898
JT Bond Mayor
and Chairman of the
Water Committee 1891-1898


Plaque marking that 110 feet below is the foundation stone of the dam (1895), seen halfway across the dam.
Transcription .....

Plymouth Corporation Water Works
Burrator Reservoir
110 feet beneath lies the foundation stone
of this embankment which was laid on the
2nd / 24th day of July 1895
????????? OP
??? Bond Chairman of the
Water Committee
James Manserch
Edward Sandeman



Looking over the dam's parapet, at the lake .....


.... and looking down the River Meavy valley.


Berra Tor, SX 553 679, or "Burrator", off to the right at the far end of the dam.


The building is believed to have been constructed (1) during the building of the dam to house explosives or (2) as a shelter during WWII, either in the event of the dam being attacked or to shelter LDV (Local Defence Volunteers) personnel during bad weather. There are four of these buildings in the area: (i) almost opposite the toilets at Burrator dam, (ii) over the stile and to the right at the Sheepstor end of Burrator dam, (iii) this one, near the Sheepstor end of the earth dam and (iv) in the grounds of Burrator Lodge, in the cliff at the back. In line with being explosive stores, they have concrete doors and non-sparking gunmetal / bronze / non-ferrous metal (?) hinges. They have ventilation shafts in the roof. This caption will be amended should further information be found.


Entrance plaque on a gate.


Sheepstor village cross, outside the west gate of St. Leonard's Church, erected by vicar Hugh Breton in 1911 to mark the coronation of King George V .....


Plaque on a bench dedicated to Katharine Frederica Albertha Lady Carnock (née Lopes).


Another view of the cross

Photograph taken 21st April 2011 .....

Low relief crosses are carved on two sides of the shaft, which was removed from a field where it was serving as a cattle rubbing post near Burrator House.


Looking downstream at Sheepstor Brook, near the church, as it runs down to Burrator Waterfall.


Wayside sign, leading us off Portland Lane into fields


Burrator House ......


Zoomed view.


Rocks piled in the corner of a field.




A step stile built into the side of a hedge.


A very old wound on a tree .....


Bracket fungi growing on the wound area, note the strange central powdery/exudate area.


A woodland view.


A deeply sunken lane leading to Yeo Farm .....


As previous photograph.


A view to Yeo Farm .....


Another view.


Smallacombe .....


As previous photograph.


Catkins blowing in the wind ....


A gloved hand attempts to stop the catkins moving in the wind.


Entrance to Yeo Farm .....


1610 lintel with IW and T on the left and an unexplained symbol on the right (a thistle?).


Marchant's Cross .....



Group photo at the cross.


There is a cut bench mark at the base of the cross .....


The bench mark: a horizontal line with the government broad arrow beneath (pointing up), the line being a measure and a known elevation for map makers. I make this elevation to be 160 metres or 525 feet.


Stepping stones across the ford across the River Meavy - the next-to-last one is under water and is slippery!


Someone must have tried using the ford - it is a lot more stony and deeper than when we did it in the early 1970's .....


Was it?!


Looking back, note the stones now on the far side of the ford, and the number plate on the right bank this side of the river.


Growing a replacement for Cormoran's catapult.


Drake's Plymouth Leat, looking towards Plymouth, with a PCWW 1917 (Plymouth Corporation Water Works) boundary stone, the modern short wall bears a number of inscribed stones, seen in the next composite photograph .....


Photographs taken 17th March 2010 .....

Slate plaques seen around the end of a short stone wall beside the leat.


The slate plaques are behind the walkers.


From the same place but looking towards Burrator Dam.


The rocks of Yennadon Crags .....


The nearby hairpin bend in the track down to the dam.


Looking back at the Pixy's Cave (Yennadon Crags) .....


A better view.


Photos from 5th July 2012 ..... .....

Upper Burrator Quarry car park rock face ..... this is something special .....


I remember 40 years ago (1970 et seq.) that there was a large plaque attached to this rock face saying what it was.  

From Devon County Council's "Geology in Devon" online publication: 

"The Upper Burrator Quarry offers an opportunity to view a rare exposure of the contact between the Dartmoor granite and Devonian rocks. Indeed, veins of pink granite can be seen penetrating these rocks which were once slates resulting from the deep burial and intense deformation of mudstone originally laid down in marine conditions. However, the high temperatures that resulted from the intrusion of the hot granite transformed them into recrystallised rocks known as hornfels. Minerals such as black tourmaline have been formed in the original slate."

Dartmoor granite is about 280 million years old, (= Late Paleozoic Era, Permian-Carboniferous Period) the Devonian rocks are about 370 million years old (= same era, Devonian Period).

An online DNPA reference about Burrator quarries states: 

"This site features rare exposures of the contact between the Permo-Carboniferous Dartmoor Granite and Devonian country rocks of the Kate Brook Formation. The contact is highly irregular and shows evidence of mobilisation of the metasediments and segregation of felsic and mafic constituents. The contact country rocks have been thermally metamorphosed to form hornfels with extensive tourmalinisation."

The area is a SSSI - Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The stone from the quarry was used to raise Burrator dam by 10 ft. in 1923-1928.


A close-up of the interface between the granite and the Devonian rocks, running from top-left to bottom-right. The Devonian rocks are on the left and the granite is on the right.


Click the image to have a closer look. I'm not too sure which is where and what or why.


Walk details

MAP: Red = GPS satellite track of the walk.

© Crown copyright and database rights 2012  Ordnance Survey Licence number 100047373
Also, Copyright © 2005, Memory-Map Europe, with permission.


This walk was accessed easily from Dousland by parking at Burrator Quarry, marked by the  P  symbol and the yellow cross on the map.

Distance - 5.62 km / 3.49 miles.


All photographs on this web site are copyright ©2007-2016 Keith Ryan.
All rights reserved - please email for permissions

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