I’ve just had a really good day on one of my trips to monitor the dam up Newlands Valley. As it is a structure that is part of a Scheduled Ancient Monument, I check its condition on a regular basis. At the moment there is some water flowing from the toe of the dam wall so it appears to have sprung a leak.
It might just be water that is overflowing from either side of the top of the wall and then tracking across and down to the toe of the dam – that’s my best guess. Perhaps when the water level is lower during a long dry period, we will find that there is no apparent leakage. The trust archaeologist, Jamie and our water advisor John have both been informed and will also be monitoring the situation.
We have consulted with the Environment Agency about the potential if ever the retaining wall should fail catastrophically. It is so far up the valley that the volume of water held in the dam would not be a danger downstream. Even so, we do want to protect it as part of the area’s heritage. The dam was originally constructed by the Elizabethan miners who worked the Goldscope mine in Newlands valley. Water from the dam was channelled along a leat to turn water wheels that powered the machinery they needed.
Its main purpose now is to supply drinking water to the Trust’s High Snab Farm so Tom, the farmer, will also be monitoring it. The water is filtered as it leaves the dam so I cleaned out the filter while I was up there. It is piped down the valley and any remaining particulates are filtered out as it goes into a header tank at the farm. It then undergoes UV treatment and the result is the sweetest drinking water you could wish for.
This is one of those tasks that is a great pleasure. High Snab is a great farm to visit. It is immaculate; Tom is always welcoming and the kettle is always ‘on’.
We’ve been to High Snab dam. Jan came with us. It was great. I ran backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards across the top of the dam. It was great.