Dartmoor Explorations

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

WATER EXTRACTION FROM WEST OKEMENT BY NORTH DEVON WATER BOARD (NDWB) ABOVE VELLAKE CORNER

Steve Grigg

Walking downstream from Black-a-Tor copse along the West Okement on a short flattish plain, there is an enclosed walled area which surrounds the river. Within the boundaries of this walled in area, which is almost full of trees , is a weir and a small pond behind it. The entry gate and weir are located on the north end of the enclosure. The gate is securely padlocked and the walls are quite substantial and certainly designed to keep animals and people out. These constructions were for a water intake point for the North Devon Water Board (NDWB). The extracted water was conveyed by gravity-flow via a 12 inch diameter main through to the water treatment works on Prewley Moor. [ref: High Dartmoor p903 – Eric Hemery]

Extraction Map
Location of the NDWB water extraction area on West Okement. As can be seen, it is immediately to the East of Shelstone Tor.
Extraction Google
A google map of the water extraction area
WO 1
Approaching from the West, close to Shelstone Tor.
WO 2
The trees of the NDWB enclosue can be seen here on the left with Black-a-Tor copse in the mid distance and Lints Tor at the end of the valley.
NDWB Boundary Locations
Dave Brewer in his second edition Dartmoor Boundary Markers (P290), mentions there are a series of 11 small boundstones of concrete construction bearing the Letters N D W and B, indicating the water catchment area. Dave Brewer suggests that NDWB have extracted water from West Okement since 1945. The above table shows all the NGR’s for the boundstones.
NDWB 1a
NDWB Boundstone 1. This is the first of 5 boundstones on the west side of the river and enclosure
NDWB 1b
NDWB Boundstone 1 close up
NDWB 2a
NDWB Boundstone 2
NDWB 2b
NDWB Boundstone 2 close up
NDWB 3a
NDWB Boundstone 3
NDWB 3b
NDWB Boundstone 3 close up
NDWB 4a
NDWB Boundstone 4
NDWB 4b
NDWB Boundstone 4 close up
NDWB 5a
NDWB Boundstone 5. This is the last boundstone on the west side of the enclosure and river
NDWB 5b
NDWB Boundstone 5
WO 3
Looking at the enclosure walls from the South West corner, close to NDWB Boundstone 5
WO 4
Close to the enclosure on SW corner
WO 5
Bit further south with enclosure ahead (looking for a river crossing, which is do-able here when river levels are relatively low)
WO 6
Having crossed the river, this is the east side of the river close to NDWB Boundstone 6
NDWB 6a
NDWB Boundstone 6
NDWB 6b
NDWB Boundstone 6 close up
NDWB 7a
NDWB Boundstone 7
NDWB 7b
NDWB Boundstone 7 close up
NDWB 8a
NDWB Boundstone 8
NDWB 8b
NDWB Boundstone 8
NDWB 9a
NDWB Boundstone 9
NDWB 9b
NDWB Boundstone 9
NDWB 9c
NDWB Boundstone 9 close up
NDWB 10a
NDWB Boundstone 10, almost buried
NDWB 10b
NDWB Boundstone 10
NDWB 11a
NDWB Boundstone 11
NDWB 11b
NDWB Boundstone 11
NDWB 11c
NDWB Boundstone 11 close up
Weir 1
North end of the enclosure
Weir 2
Weir and glimpse of the pond.
Weir 3
River below the weir
Weir 4
Zoomed in on the weir
Waterfall 1
Unusual constructions the weir. Was this part of the original extraction in 1945. It is located at SX56018 89904
Waterfall 2
Nice little waterfall at SX56010 89900. A slow motion video is below:
Vellake 1
South West Water Metering house, which Eric Hemery (High Dartmoor, P904), describes as a “fortuitous crossing for bipeds”
Vellake 2
Vellake Corner Bridge, which Eric Hemery (High Dartmoor, P904), describes as a: “Handsome structure, an arch bridge of border stone, which carries foot traffic, for it leads to 89 steps climbing the east flank of Vellake Down, from which a path crosses the King Way to Prewley.”
Vellake 3
Intriguingly there are two water inspection covers, one with NDWB on it and one with SWWA on it. Therefore, one suspects they were manufactured some years apart.

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