Home » Adventure, Destinations, Walking » Dartmoor Leats – A Walk an’ an ‘alf


Dartmoor is well-known as a tourist attraction, especially in the summer. It has beautiful views of both a serene and dramatic nature, and can provide warm, sun-soaked riversides for picnics and relaxation. Plenty of people taking Devon holidays visit the moor every year, and it’s no wonder why.

It’s also known for pony trekking, horse riding, and walking without any other animal involved: on foot. Walks across Dartmoor can be challenging, gruelling affairs, such as the Ten Tors or Dartmoor Beast challenges, but holiday-makers will find that the moor offers them something too. More relaxed and pleasant walks can be taken, and one of the best ways of doing this is to follow the route of a leat.

Leats are man-made water channels that were designed to carry water away from its natural route. Along the leat or at its destination, it could supply water for drinking, washing or farming, or power industrial equipment, even producing electricity. The leats were made using incredibly slight gradients, designed to keep the water travelling fast enough that it didn’t stagnate, but slow enough that it didn’t flood. One of the results of this is that in places the water appears to be flowing uphill.

Because of the way the leats are made, they provide excellent, gentle walking routes, and are easy enough to follow, especially if still filled with water. This makes them ideal for the slower gait of children, perhaps those who might stay with their family in a Devon holiday park. Along the route, walkers will see things such as sheep leaps, two granite platforms jutting out over the leat to allow sheep to jump across the water, and possibly a Bullseye stone, granite blocks with a hole through them that is the right size to divert just the right amount of water off a leat for use somewhere else.

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