Saturday 22 May 2021

Dartmoor Leating

May 17th was to be the next important date in the COVID lockdown easing schedule with hotels finally being allowed to open up for overnight guests and so we decided to tempt fate and book a night away at The Two Bridges Hotel on Dartmoor. The lockdown easing did indeed happen as planned and so off we headed to Dartmoor for a walk on Tuesday 18th May before heading to the hotel for our overnight stay.

The weather however was less than great with cloudy skies, a strong, cold wind and heavy showers, pretty typical of the May we are having this year.

We parked up at Burrator Reservoir to begin our walk along the Devonport Leat towards the tunnel near Old Bridge. It was further than we had expected and the strong wind and boggy ground made the going difficult at times but at least it didn't begin to rain until we were nearly back at the car.

The walk along the Leat was very interesting and the views of the Moors were stunning and along our route I had some nice views of a singing Redstart at the Stanlake Farm ruins, a Grey Heron and a male Mallard feeding along the Leat, a very odd looking, brown toned presumed immature Peregrine Falcon flying over and the ubiquitous Stonechats, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. Cuckoo, Whinchat and Crossbill were also heard and 2 Small Copper were a nice sighting flitting around some Dandelion flowers in a brief sunny spell. A Green Tiger Beetle was also seen hunting in the grass by the side of the footpath and we even saw a Mavis in her natural habitat, out on a hike with her walking group! 


Green Tiger Beetle

Our night at the hotel was very nice, with a hot bath, a nice meal and the best night's sleep I have had for weeks very much enjoyed and appreciated while it rained and blew a hoolie outside for most of the evening and night. 

The next morning was bright and sunny but still very cool in a strong wind and after a very hearty breakfast we started our second Devonport Leat walk, heading out from the hotel and up the West Dart River to the head weir and the start of the Leat. 

We had a look around Wistmans Wood along the way, the first time we have visited here, and I was pleased to find my first 2 Spotted Flycatcher of the year along with a Treecreeper and a Coal Tit. A Redstart and a Cuckoo were also heard. 

Wistmans Wood

Onwards to the Weir and we began our walk along the Leat, eventually venturing up the Cowslic River to see the Leat head weir there too, and again it was further than we expected but interesting with stunning scenery, strong winds and boggy ground. 

West Dart Weir

Cowslic Weir

Yomping Royal Marine Recruits

Another 2 Redstart were heard singing along the way and a Cuckoo also called a few times. Meadow Pipit, Stonechat and Skylark were also seen along with a pair of Wheatear, a Buzzard and flyover Siskins. 

We finished our walk back at the hotel and enjoyed a cream tea before heading back home, having had a very enjoyable and restorative couple of days away despite the weather.

(And Wally the Walrus seems to have left Tenby and was seen off Padstow in Cornwall on Wednesday 19th May!). 

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