This walk: 2017-4-25. Burrator Higher Quarry car park, quarry SSSI details, GWR Princetown railway track bed, Burrator & Sheepstor Halt station, kissing gates, Burrator Reservoir, dam, memorial benches, Water post, pump house, Devonport Leat, sluice, benchmark on ruins of Mullicraft Cottage, Lowery Tank, Lower Lowery barn, lakeside view, Burrator Discovery Centre, waterfall, Click Tor.
Walk details below - Information about the route etc.
OS 25-inch scale 1890s-1920s (seamless zoomable version) - this map shows Higher Lowery to the north of Devonport Leat, in which Lowery Tank detail is shown. The remains of a stone cross are indicated near where the barn stands today. The reservoir is shown. Revised 1904, published 1906.
OS 25-inch single sheet map - 1st Edition 1887, surveyed 1882-1883 - showing Essworthy before it was flooded, plus Head Weir Cottage, Longstone, Redstone, Park Cottage, Narrator Farm, Sheepstor Bridge and Mullicraft Cottage.
OS 25-inch single sheet map - 1st Edition 1887, surveyed 1882-1883 - Showing the head weir of Plymouth Leat) at the bottom edge), but no detail of Lowery Tank
OS 6-inch 1888-1913 - zoomable seamless map. Note the GWR Princetown Branch railway line, Devonport Leat, the Signal Box at Lowery Road and the Old Tramway - this being the tighter-turning horse-drawn tramway of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt (opened 1823).
OS 6-inch 1886 - single sheet map, showing the area before the reservoir was built.
Burrator (Higher) Quarry is to the left on this bend in the road to the dam, it is preceded by this metal marker post that is normally hidden in bracken through the summer ..... Sheep's Tor in the distance .....
This is an old Plymouth Corporation Water Works marker, of which eight are known to exist around the reservoir.
A panoramic view of Burrator Quarry ..... the metal post is discernible against the sky ..... Click the image for a larger view .....
Heritage Gateway link .... "Burrator Quarry - SX 549 676 - Burrator or Furzebreak Quarry. Granite. Operated by Plymouth Corporation in 1896, employing 82. Depicted on historic maps." This was during the building of Burrator Dam (completed 1898).
The entrance to the quarry is on the right. The large pillar is thought to be the base of a crane that would have been used for loading stone from the quarry. The granite posts along the side of the road were obviously cut by feather and tare (note the drilled holes, now split apart). The posts also show the remains of iron rings that once bore chains along the road to prevent falls into the gorge below .....
A view of the top of the pillar, showing bent over studs and what appears to be the remains of a circular, turntable bearing.
Burrator Upper Quarry car park - the quarry is a SSSI - Site of Special Scientific Interest. I remember 40 years ago (in the early 1970's) that there was a 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).
NB - my emboldening. Ed.
Another reference (from DNPA) has been given to me that 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." http://www.devon.gov.uk/geo-burrator-quarries.pdf
Stone from the quarry was used to raise Burrator dam by 10 ft. in 1923-1928.
"At the southern end the back wall is clearly comprised of a number of alternating gently dipping beds of (metamorphosed) mudstone and sand comprising the Kate Brook formation. The beds were laid down approximately 365 Ma as marine sediments and were subsequently uplifted about 300 Ma during the late Carboniferous.
..... the north wall of the quarry. Here the red granite is exposed in several places in the quarry floor, where it has textbook appearance of interlocking quartz and feldspar with black biotite scattered throughout. However, in the walls of the quarry a number of intrusions of the granite into the country rock can be seen, this has had the effect of breaking up the country rocks along both horizontal and vertical joints, opening these up to as much as 30cm filled with granite."
For those who are curious, the Lower Quarry is just around the corner on the road to the dam - blocked off for many years to prevent car parking.
The quarry face ..... there is very pink granite about 1/4 of the way across from the left, almost at grass level ..... see next photograph .....
Mike Brown (2001) Guide to Dartmoor, CD-ROM, Dartmoor Press, Grid reference .SX 5494 6759
"The large quarry beside the road just past the ‘PCWW’ iron post is cut into the tor remnant known as Claig, Cleag or Click Tor. The low outcrops which remain atop the quarry face are also known as Yennadon Crags, the plural name implying that this also refers to the rock piles above the smaller quarry a little nearer the dam, although descriptions in the main reference works are a little confusing on this matter. The rocks are at the very foot of Yennadon Down, yet still tower high above the Mewy Valley, a factor difficult to appreciate when the scene is surveyed from the rock masses because the true depth of the Burrator Gorge is masked by the heavily wooded slopes."
Pink granite - the granite intrusion into the country rock as referred to above.
"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 re-crystallised rocks known as hornfels. Minerals such as black tourmaline have been formed in the original slate.
The Lower Burrator Quarry exposes granite intersected by a series of joints. Joints are fractures in the granite resulting from stresses caused by cooling, by pressures from earth movements or by the removal of a load when the rocks once above the granite are eroded away."
From the TrendStone - Granite and Quartz Wholesalers web site .....
"Pink coloured granite is a result of an abundance of potassium feldspar within the granite. You can see small specs of milky semi-transparent quartz, dark brown/black amphibole, and opaque white feldspar. However, in a granite like the one above the primary mineral is potassium feldspar."
If you want to get lost in the world of Granite, start here: Wikipedia - Granite, there are plenty of hyperlinks!
There is a second dam "at Burrator" - this is the earth dam at Sheepstor, built 1894-1898. Links: Engineering Timelines - Sheepstor Dam, Burrator Reservoir - Devon Heritage and Wikipedia - Burrator Reservoir.
This is the track bed of the Princetown Railway, opened 11th August 1883, running to Princetown from Yelverton Siding (there was no station there at that time). The Parliamentary Bill to approve it received the Royal Assent on 13th August 1878.
On the right (in the shadow) is the site of Burrator Platform, as originally built for workmen in 1924. who were employed on the raising of the Burrator and Sheepstor dams by an extra 10-feet (the reservoir was originally opened in 1898). It was opened to the public in 1925 as Burrator Halt and renamed Burrator & Sheepstor Halt in 1927. The history of the P&DR (Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway, later, GWR - Great Western Railway) can be found on the archived Plymouth Data web site and on Wikipedia: Plymouth and Dartmoor Railway.
Burrator was named after nearby Berra Tor, across the dam and up to the right where the road bends left: Burra Tor (aka Berra Tor, or Beara Tor) at SX 553 679, elevation 128 meters (420 feet) can be seen on the walk 20th February 2013.
The original horse-drawn tramway, built by Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt and opened in 1823, was built on the western side of Yennadon Down (the area to the left of this picture) where it doubled back on itself going out to Prince's Town (now known as Princetown) because the wagons could make tighter turns than the later steam-powered railway.
Looking at the steps up to the concrete base of the station building, with a "kissing gate" and steps on the right, leading down to the dam .....
Another flight of steps and another "kissing gate", leading up to Yennadon Down. A "kissing gate" is where the moving gate is partially enclosed and restrained by walls or, here, a cage where the post and struts are made from bent railway rails. Having discovered the origin of the "kissing" aspect, I was disappointed, no need to "pucker up" ever again! The etymology of the name is that the gate merely touches ("kisses") the enclosure on either side, rather than needing to be securely latched - and I thought it was all to do with good old fashioned philematology .....
Looking down on Burrator Dam.
A view across Burrator Reservoir, with Sheep's Tor on the right and Down Tor in the distance. Leather Tor is just visible at the extreme left.
Zoomed view to "the island", actually an isthmus, open to the public with the conserved Longstone Manor farm and nearby windstrew, where corn was threshed and tossed in the air so that the chaff was taken away by the wind.
At SX 54982 68041 .....
As previous photograph.
At SX 54979 68097 .....
Another bench along the railway track .....
At SX 54986 68150 .....
View along the railway bed, to the fourth of the present memorial benches .....
The bench .....
Philip was known to us and throughout the city of Plymouth for his amazing contribution to music over very many years
Bench and its view to Sheep's Tor.
A gateway along the path with a rare three-sided concrete "Water" marker post .....
Closer view: the post probably marks the presence of a water pipe.
The present-day end of the running section of Devonport Leat - approaching the building where water is either gravity-fed to Dousland Water Treatment Works or is allowed to go down the waterfall into the reservoir .....
Closer view .....
On the walk, the leat building was open and we were allowed to look inside! The large round object is part of the leaf-filtering system and everything else is instrumentation for monitoring water quality ..... at least 25% of the leat water must go to the reservoir at all times and in times of heavy rain it is more, this is done as a measure against Cryptosporidium, which is treated against elsewhere .....
..... water runs down the "plughole" - see the movie linked below (pictures of the waterfall later in the walk). When the leat was completed in 1801, it ran into Dock, or Plymouth Dock, now known as Devonport .....
Water-level grilles (in the shade) under the pump house take in the water that gets cleaned and gravity-fed to the Dousland Water Treatment Works, that supplies Yelverton, Horrabridge, Princetown and areas as far afield as the higher parts of Plymouth and Tavistock ......
The "plughole" that takes water to the waterfall that runs into the reservoir. The bulk of the reservoir water is provided by the River Meavy, Newleycombe Lake and Narrator Brook that run into the "top end" of the reservoir .....
Kerbstones at the end of the leat that were recycled from the old 1823 Thomas Tyrwhitt horse-drawn tramway,: drilled holes are seen in some that were fixing points for the "shoes" that held the iron rails .....
Dartmoor CAM movie. TIPS .....
A movie showing the end of the running section of Devonport Leat/
Click the photo to download>
The leat is described in detail via links on THIS PAGE - each link to e.g. Devonport Leat leads to a different web page.
Looking along the leat.
Seventy-five metres down the road, where the leat goes under a road, is a ruined building that bears an old surveying bench mark (encircled for clarity) .....
The benchmark, it is labelled as B.M. 819-7 on the zoomable Old Map linked above, with the addition of Mullicraft Cottage on the 1886 single sheet map (not to be confused with another source that says Burrator Lodge is the site of Mullicraft Farm). The elevation here is 250 metres, but in the Imperial units used at the time this is 820 feet. Link to Google bench mark search results.
Sluice arrangement at SX 55102 68913 to control water flow: there is a channel behind the valve facing the camera that runs down to the reservoir ..... we will see the channel later down by the water ..... in the 1970s / 1980s this appeared to run continuously but today it seems not to be used at all .....
Another view - there are two footbridges here.
A footbridge at SX 55151 69135 .....
Devonport Leat exiting the mysteriously-named Lowery Tank, at SX 55550 69360.
From Mike Brown (2001) Guide to Dartmoor, CD-ROM, Dartmoor Press, Grid Reference SX 5560 6937
"Within the stroll is Lowery Tank, on the course of the Devonport Leat, a long deep granite-walled channel in the centre of which is a small rectangular holding reservoir with capstones on the wall and a large pillar at each corner. It is difficult to now see what purpose this rather grandiose design served."
A closer view, showing a series of holes/slots cut into the granite post .....
General view of the tank, the two previous photographs were taken near the right edge of this photograph, where the leat can be seen. The walk then passes through the gate.
Through the gate, this signpost is seen, indicating footpaths to Yennadon Down, Cross Gate and Lower Lowery (in shadow).
Lowery has been recorded in the past as "Louworthe, in 1256 AD, and Lowerthy, in 1479 AD (Mike Brown (2001) Guide to Dartmoor, CD-ROM, Dartmoor Press, grid references 5575 6942 and 5683 6945 respectively). Also, under the latter reference .....
"As an aside, I cannot understand why some writers persistently — and most insistently! — drop the ‘r’ from Norsworthy, for the name means “north worthig” — north settlement — and is so named, Northworthy, in most early records. Middleworth, the middle settlement in the Deancombe Valley, is not far distant (q.v. grid square 5769), a lower settlement, Lowery — formerly spelt Lowerthy (q.v. grid square 5569) — is also nearby, and the now-drowned Essworthy (q.v. grid square 5568), the eastern settlement, was situated further down the Mewy Valley."
Lowery Cross 1 - a local name for Cross Gate Cross, also once known as Leather Cross
Old maps also show "Stone Cross - Remains of" just north-west of present-day Lower Lowery, possibly an original, stone Lowery Cross
Lowery Cross 2
Lowery Lane - "Lowerthylane"
Looking back at Lowery Tank, between the gate and the leat (at left), we crossed the clapper bridge over the leat.
Approaching the (threshing?) barn at the present-day Lower Lowery farm (deserted), recently undergone conservation work with the consolidation of the walls and the replacing of the long-fallen-in roof .....
View through the keyhole i.e. the end door; note the granite footers/corbels that supported beams for the upper floor .....
Some detail .....
Looking through an upper window at the rear (seen in the first photograph) .....
A view from further into "the plot" .....
Similar to the previous photograph .....
View from the south-west corner .....
Location of the ML stone ..... "Two tablets under the eaves, ‘ML’ and ‘1873’, indicate that this was another of the many holdings in the locality owned by Sir Massey Lopes of Maristow." Source: Mike Brown (2001) Guide to Dartmoor, CD-ROM, Dartmoor Press, Grid Square 55 69 .....
Just some rocks that I thought originally might be signs of the original Lower Lowery, now after looking at old maps, they show a building existed just the other side of the road around the reservoir (on the inside of the fence).
After crossing the road, we used the stile to enter the lakeside section of the walk.
A picnic spot beside the lake, looking towards the main dam .....
A zoomed view to Burrator Dam.
Today's group at the water's edge, Burrator Reservoir.
This is the chute from the Devonport Leat i.e. a drainage channel from a sluice down which excess water can be bled off from the leat in times of excess flow from the moor (sluice already seen above).
Yvonne Boyle memorial banch, SX 55352 68761. “Yvonne loved it here” YS Boyle 17 May 1952 – 1 March 2014. (no photo taken)
Burrator Discovery Centre.
Images reproduced with permission.
Leaflets available at the Discovery Centre, the "Welcome" leaflet is free, the others are 50 pence each .....
Images reproduced with permission.
Three more SWLT leaflets.
Fence post outside Burrator Lodge, formerly the site of Mullacroft Farm (Mike Brown, 5515 6801).
Burrator waterfall .....
An exercise in photography - longer shutter speed (1.50 sec. f5.5., ISO 400) .....
Shorter shutter speed (1/500th sec, f5.5, ISO 1600).
Looking down on the dam .....
The various commemorative plaques on the dam can be seen on the walk dated 20th February 2013.
Looking up at the downhill-side kissing gate at Burrator Halt railway station .....
View including the steps.
Spring Spring is in the air!
Memorial bench at Click Tor .....
A memorial bench at Yennadon Crags / Cleag / Claig / Click Tor, at SX 5498 6794, above the old Burrator Lower Quarry - I remember parking there a long time ago.....
In Memory of Jack Treneere Who Loved This Place .....
Click Tor, Cleag / Claig Tor, at SX 5498 6794, elevation 246 metres (807 feet), with Sheep's Tor behind.
Final view, from Click Tor, looking towards Leather Tor.
MAP: Red = GPS satellite track of the walk.
© Crown copyright and database rights 2016 Ordnance
Licence number 100047373
Also, Copyright © 2005, Memory-Map Europe, with permission.
This walk was reached by turning towards Meavy beside the Burrator Inn at Douland and taking the first road to the left after leaving the 30 mph area, over the cattle grid, parking in the quarry, marked by the yellow cross and the P symbol on the map, before reaching the dam.
Distance - 5.37 km / 3.34 miles