Dartmoor walks this way | News

The Genius of Water Power

2013-10-11 10:32:37

Anyone who’s been on one of my guided walks will know how important water is to Dartmoor.  It’s the source of all but three of Devon’s rivers and those waterways are central to understanding the moor’s shape and character.  Since medieval times (and probably much earlier), people used the water gushing off the hills for more than just drinking and washing.  The evidence is all over Dartmoor in the shape of leats, manmade water channels which take water out of rivers and carry it – using the force of gravity - to places where it can be used.  They range from little leats that bring drinking water to an individual farmhouse to major engineering feats such as the Devonport Leat which ran for 28 miles.  They can be found winding their way around moorland hillsides, following the contours so t


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In due course, the vast steam-powered factories in the Midlands put Finch Foundry out of business, though it struggled on until 1960.  I wondered, as I watched the water cascading off the wheel and through its channels, what kind of a world we’d be living in if we still used natural forces like this to work for us.  We wouldn’t have as much of everything – nothing can beat burning oil or gas to generate energy - but at least we’d know our energy sources would last as long as we looked after them.  And wouldn’t have to complain all the time about the big energy companies and their even bigger profits...

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