LOPWELL DAM AND SURROUNDING WOODS SUN 21 FEB 99

START GRID REFERENCE 474 648

The Plymouth Ramblers group were off on a coastal walk we know very well, from Noss Mayo around the coastal path to Stoke in South Devon. We set off at 9.45 to join them but within a few minutes of leaving home it was raining hard and the forecast was for it to continue on and off all day. Being wimps, we decided to return home and perhaps venture out for a shorter walk later if the rain cleared.

And so after lunch we drove five miles out to Lopwell Dam, which is a short distance up the river Tavy. It is a local beauty spot and very popular in the Summer months. It is a very unusual Dam in that it is right down by sea level and at high tide the salt water laps half way up the dam. We parked close to Lopwell and although it was still raining, at least it was sheltered from the cold North West Wind.

We had a look at the Dam itself and then at the Salmon leap staging to allow the fish access from the sea to the river Tavy beyond the Dam.


At low water there is a car crossing ford and a raised narrow path across to the far side. It is heavily wooded on the Bere Alston side and very steep as well. Strangely on the Dartmoor side it is relatively flat in comparison.

It was an industrialised area with lots of mining activity 150 years ago and although heavily overgrown now you can still see the last remnants of the building and mines.

I remember the area some 45 years ago and there was a lot more evidence of habitation than there is now. It is almost like a mini jungle there with the growth slowly swallowing the buildings. We wandered up river for a few hundred yards but the paths were becoming very narrow and slippery against the steep sides of the valley. Winter is coming to an end, there were wild daffodils and snowdrops in evidence, wild or the last remaining vestiges of the community which existed there a hundred years ago.

The waters of the dammed river Tavy lay spread before us and it is now a wild bird preserve with many different sea and river birds in evidence. It was by then raining quite heavily so we returned to the car and were home within 20 minutes.

Evidence that Spring is just around the corner was also visible in our own garden. The frogs I had seen a couple of evenings ago had produced large amounts of spawn which they had deposited in the lower of our two ponds. Perhaps they knew there were no fish in that pond, Normally they provide an early feed for the fish in the upper pond!!