The Leat Project

The Old Leat

Back in the 1830s when the Woodland Education Centre was a Victorian pleasure garden, there were two boating lakes created. These were protected from floodwater by the creation of a leat which channelled flood water away from the boating lakes before rejoining the stream further to the south.  When the Victorian pleasure gardens fell into disrepair in the early part of the 20th century, the effectiveness of the Leat also deteriorated.  It was no longer able to channel flood water from the boating lakes which themselves were largely silted up.  Much of the old Leat became overgrown with invasive rhododendron and mostly hidden from view.   Restoration of the old part of the Leat could only begin following clearance of the rhododendron cover.


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The old Leat during initial clearance.  Note the dense rhododendron in the background.  The Leat channel is full of dead rhododendron, smothered by its own top growth, just a sample of what was to come through the whole length of the existing Leat.

Following rhododendron clearance,  a mini-digger was used to clear a fresh track through the old Victorian Leat.  Care had to be taken to make sure a suitable gradient was made to take the water down hill at a suitable speed.   Too steep and the water would flow too fast, eroding the bank sides.  Too shallow and the water would tend to lie in pools in the Leat, where silt could then settle out.