This site preserved by Simon Avery, Digital Dilemma in 2022 as part of Archiving Dartmoor

Previous walks      Weather     Links    

   Search Dartmoor CAM

#htmlcaption #htmlcaption #htmlcaption

This walk: 2012-12-21. Devonport Leat, Plymouth Leat (built by Drake), both with running water. 


Short history: Plymouth (Drake's) Leat, 17-miles long, built in 1591 under the aegis of Sir Francis Drake. It originated at a head weir on the River Meavy (now under Burrator Reservoir) and ran as far as Sutton Pool in Plymouth. It fed various conduits etc. along its route, plus supplying a number of Drake's woollen mills. The conduits in Plymouth were later replaced, over time, by pipes. Eventually, the leat fed Drake's Place Reservoir, built as two reservoirs in 1825 and 1828, just up the hill from Plymouth University on Tavistock Road, although the reservoir supply is now by modern pipes. The reservoir is the only open reservoir remaining in Plymouth and is no longer used as a water supply; it is solely a local amenity. The leatceased carrying water into the city when Burrator Reservoir was opened in 1898.

Devonport Leat runs from three take-off points on the Blackabrook, Cowsic and West Dart rivers north of Two Bridges. Devonport used to be known as Plymouth Dock (being a separate town from Plymouth) until 1st January 1824. The Plymouth Dock Water Works Act received Royal Assent on 17 Dec. 1792, establishing the Plymouth Water Works Company, which had 25,000 capital. A shareholder, Mr. Thomas Gray, Exeter, was awarded the contract on 24 July 1793 to build the leat. It was to supply Devonport and Stonehouse. It seems water was flowing along the leat by 1797 but the works were not completed until 1801. Originally. the leat ran 27 miles and terminated in a small reservoir in Devonport Park, Moricetown, adjacent to Granby Street, about to mile from the Torpoint ferry crossing. Today, it runs about 15 miles to Burrator/Dousland. It was constructed because, as Plymouth Dock grew bigger than Plymouth, Plymouth would not share their water supply from Plymouth Leat. Devonport Leat still carried water to some users after the Burrator Reservoir was opened in 1898: in 1907 the Dousland-Belliver section was closed and by 1915 all sections below Belliver were closed. The leat flowed to Dousland until 1951 when it was terminated as the cascade into the reservoir. Some alterations were made after the drought in 1976 when the regulating pipe, intake etc. at the foot of Raddick Hill was modified so that water could still be fed to Dousland reservoir.


These photos and videos were made on a misty day. 

Some of the photographs below can be clicked on to see a video version.


Devonport Leat, close to where it comes out from under the A386 road just on the Plymouth side of the turning into Yelverton Cricket Club. Click the photo to see a movie.


Devonport Leat as seen from the small road bridge on the road that turns in almost opposite the turn-off for Crapstone, between the bollards in the centre of the road. The two upright stones are believed to function as a backflow valve to limit water flow one way or the other, rather like a bull's-eye stone? Click the photo to see a movie.


The wall at the left is part of the small road bridge. The water was flowing from the left in Devonport Leat and running out towards the top of the photograph into a pipe that runs into Plymouth Leat. Click the photo to see a movie.


Plymouth Leat, showing the inflow from Devonport Leat. Click the photo to see a movie.


Looking along Plymouth Leat, towards Clearbrook. Click the photo to see a movie.


Plymouth Leat looking towards Yelverton, at the point where it flows into private fields (which are behind the camera, see next photo). This location is at the end of the tarmac road (Chub Tor Road). Click the photo to see a movie.


As previous photograph but looking towards Clearbrook.


Plymouth Leat after passing the Clearbrook car park, looking back towards Clearbrook.


More flooding between Clearbrook car park and Roborough.


As previous photograph.


Reflections on a misty day.


More reflections.


As previous photograph.


Final reflections.

Plymouth Leat was examined at the western edge of the Common where it leaves the National Park and runs towards Plymouth - it was completely dry. The water must be running out of one or more breaches that can be seen in the leat, possibly the first one at SX 52257 64907 above Goodameavy. ***

*** This was investigated on 23rd December 2012.


For those who persist to the very end - here is your reward, a rare appearance in front of the camera of the secretive Dartmoor Goony bird .....

Showing the depth of water at this time ..... Click the photo to see a movie.





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

Sister web sites
Dartmoor Tick Watch
The Cornish Pasty - The Compleat Pastypaedia