A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
July 24, 2020
Holne Moor Leats
Steve Grigg and Frank Collinson
This post cover the exploring of leat water regulation around the East side of Holne Moor, which serves / served mines, farmsteads and whole communities. I lay much credit to Dave Brewer who wrote two articles in Dartmoor Magazine (issue 4 – Autumn 1986 and issue 7 – Summer 1987) for inspiring this exploration. Additional information was gleaned from John Robins (Follow the Leat) and Eric Hemery (Walking the Dartmoor Waterways).
This post specifically covers the area immediately to the East and South East of Venford Reservoir. There will be further posts on these and other leat systems in due course.
The Wheal Emma Leat is the longest leat in the area and the Higher Headweir can be traced from River Swincombe, to the O Brook and Venford Reservoir before it enters the River Mardle. The water is then taken off further downstream at a Lower Headweir near Scae Wood which cuts its way through Brook Wood to Wheal Emma and Brookwood Mines.
The Hamlyn’s (Holne Moor) leat takeoff is from the O Brook. For much of its journey on the high moor, it runs parallel with the Wheal Emma Leat. It still runs and cascades into the Holy Brook (via Great Combe). A Lower Headweir on Holy Brook fed a second leat which fed (via a wooden launder) a water wheel at Buckfast Plating Mill (1953) , which was formerly the Hamlyn Family Woollen Mill (19th Century). The water wheel (now renewed) is now part of the Buckfast hydroelectric scheme.
Holne Town Gutter was cut to serve the local farmsteads and Holne itself. Much of the use of this leat to the “Stoke” farmsteads is covered by this post. Eric Hemery describes that the term “Gutter” is a Dartmoor Word describing a water channel of any sort. In his “Walking the Dartmoor Waterways”, explains its seniority over Wheal Emma and Hamlyn Leats.