Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

Bullaven Farm Hotel Swimming Pool and Pump House

Bullaven Farm Hotel (aka Bullaven Country Club) was developed from an existing farm building and had some large extensions before it was demolished in the 1980’s. Today the land contains just a single story dwelling. The exact date of transition from a farm to hotel / country club is unknown but is estimated as spanning the interwar period. The hotel / country club had a range of facilities including stables, gardens, restaurant and a swimming pool down by the River Erme. It is the swimming pool (with an associated pump house and weir) which is the focus of this post.

Map 1
The Bullaven Farm Hotel / Country Club swimming pool and pump house is marked on the 1949-1970 OS Map as “Bathing Pool (Disused)”
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Access to the “Bathing Pool” is easiest by using the gate to the west of Harford Bridge shown in the photograph. The author notes that the sign stating that the “enclosed farmland has two herds of cattle with two bulls or sheep” has been there for at least the last 30 years. The author has never seen any animals within the woodland.
Map 2
Sketch map of the layout of the “Bathing Pool” as indicated by the OS Map. There is lots to explore including a pump house, an aqueduct, a swimming pool and a weir.
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Coming from the direction of Harford Bridge and following the woodland footpath, once a gate (through a wall) has been cleared the ruins can be found very easily by the river. The first view to the explorer is likely to be the concrete aqueduct as shown in the photograph.
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The site appears inaccessible due to a fenceline (see foreground). Access is possible (see later photograph in this post) and the author speculates that the fenceline is in place as a safety measure as there is quite a drop from the footpath area down to the site.
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At the south end of the aqueduct are some footings of a generator, axle, wheel and other fittings on the platform of the pump house. The pump house generated electricity for the Bullaven Country Club across the river.
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Close up of an axle, wheel and other fittings.
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Upstream from the pump house the remains of the swimming pool can be found. The swimming pool is recorded as being 20 metre wide.
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There is a great picture on the Dartmoor Trust website which show a female swimmer about to dive into the pool. The author has overlaid part of the picture onto a current day picture, which appears to be at the south end of the pool. https://dartmoortrust.org/archive/record/11490
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The north end of the swimming pool can be discerned from the fenceline as can be a mystery “flat area” next to it.
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The “flat area” has a perimeter of a very low concrete wall and is marked on old OS maps.
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Approx. 100m north of the site there is an unmarked and unlocked gate, which gives the explorer access to the site. The site is uneven, so entering would certainly be at your own risk. The gate was recorded at SX64041 59980.
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Passing through the gate and following the river downstream a weir can be located.
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The stone-built weir is recorded as having an overall crest length of 9.5 metres from bank to bank and is the point for the take off point for the leat feeding the swimming pool and pump house.
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There is evidence (boulders) that there was a dam here which with the weir fed water into the leat.
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The take off point showing some concrete slabs for directing water. It is located at SX64035 59926.
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Panoramic view of the weir, old dam and leat take off point.
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The leat / water channel is easily followed and is mainly concrete lined. It runs for a total length of 60 metres.
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An old sluice gate can be found in the leat close to the point where water enters the swimming pool. It is assumed this was used to regulate water between the swimming pool and the pump house (via the aqueduct). The sluice is located at SX64011 59913.
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The concrete lined leat has a small bridge, which probably was used by guests of the country club to cross the leat to gain access to the swimming pool. Guests would have crossed the Erme via a swing plank bridge (source: Dartmoor HER).
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Next to the concrete bridge are a few steps which lead into the swimming pool.
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The steps can be found at SX64006 59913.
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Next to the steps is (probably) where the pool inlet point is.
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Inside the swimming pool at its north end with the “flat area” beyond.
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Looking over the south end swimming pool wall a closer view of the aqueduct can be found.
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This substantial stone and concrete clad launder (aqueduct) carried water to the pump house.
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Peek over the swimming pool (south end) wall to the aqueduct.
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View of the swimming pool south end wall across to the fenceline seen at the start of this post.
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The reason for the “flat area” bordered by a low concrete wall is unknown to the author. The author speculates that this area might have been a very shallow paddling pool, a possible changing area (if there was a hut or huts located here) or even an area where guests might have relaxed (on deck chairs ?) after or before their swim.
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The “flat area” leads directly into the swimming pool (the line can be seen in this photograph). The area is located at SX64013 59925.
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Climbing west through the woodland to the ridge where Tristis Rock (aka Hall Tor) is located a view to the former Bullaven Farm Hotel can be had. Pictures of the former hotel / country club can be found here: https://dartmoortrust.org/archive/record/11515 and here: https://dartmoortrust.org/archive/record/11723

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2 Comments

  1. Marcus March 29, 2022

    Hi there, this is really interesting, I live in Ivybridge and I’m trying to find out more about the Bullaven Hotel. If you know anything else I would love to know. I would like to know history of the hotel and what happened to it.
    Many thanks
    Marcus Bailey

    • SteveGrigg1961 April 2, 2022 — Post author

      Hi Marcus,

      I have no further information on Bullaven Hotel except what I have gleaned from the Dartmoor HER.

      Regards,

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