By: Blonde Two
One of the most reassuring navigation points I have ever used on Dartmoor is the Devonport Leat. My first days of navigation practice were spent along it and my first wild camp next to it. I have drunk water from it and washed my face in it in the morning. On Wednesday we saw a Heron taking off from it. The Devonport Leat is an amazing feature and well worth seeking out.
For those of you who don’t know, a leat is a man made water course which carries water from somewhere that it occurs naturally to somewhere that people need it to do something useful. The Devonport Leat was built in the 1700’s to provide water for – you guessed it – the Devonport Docks. Read some great information about Dartmoor Leats here http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/leats_moor.htm
When I started my venture into Dartmoor navigation, I learnt quickly that on most maps, something blue means water (needless to say, there are a lot of blue bits on the Dartmoor OS map). What it took me a bit longer to work out was that streams and rivers run across contour lines and leats follow them. Not all Dartmoor leats still have water in them but the Devonport Leat does still supply water for Plymouth via the Burrator Resevoir and, as well as being useful, is really lovely.
Go and find the Devonport Leat for yourself. My favourite way of finding it is to head from Princetown to Nun’s Cross Farm (take the path past South Hessary Tor). The leat runs under a scary tunnel here – if you turn right (West) at the cross and head down the hill for 150m, you will see where it comes back out of the tunnel. Follow it along for a while and you will have a lovely walk. If you go far enough – 3 km (45 minutes) you will come to a place that is not named on the map but affectionately known by the Two Blondes as “Kink in Leat” SX582717. We have navigated to this point many times, from many directions and in all sorts of weather. It is always a cup of tea stopping point and, because my son loves it too, I always text him the words “Kink in Leat” when I get there.