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Lopwell Dam is one of those ‘odd places’ that is loved by many different people, because of what it is. It is situated some three or four miles to the north of Plymouth just outside a small village called Maristow, and is to be found actually straddling the River Tavy. The Dam is not one of those types of dam that is to be found holding back a reservoir, as the river does actually in fact flow right over the top of it. But this results in there being a track running across it, which allows cars or people to get across it to the other side - it is not a very wide track, as the river is at one of its higher points here and so therefore is no more than about ten metres in length (and of course wide enough to take an average to somewhat large vehicle such as a minibus).
The best way to get to it is to be on the main Plymouth to Tavistock road, upon which you will see it signposted from just outside Plymouth. This is on the edge of Dartmoor, and so the side road that leads to it can be quite narrow in places and you will of course find yourself in the middle of a lot of tress and bushes and other
overgrown style plants and so on.
There is not really a lot actually at Lopwell Dam, which is why I made my comment in the first sentence about it being a somewhat odd place. It comes loosely under the guidance of the National Trust, however they seem to have left things really as they were in years gone by. On arriving at the site, you will of course find the dam with an average sized car park beside it and a small track leading away from it on the other side of the river.
You will also find what appears to have once been a medium sized cottage just to one side, but this is know been revamped to become a tea shop/ café/ small restaurant. However, owing to the uncertainty of the weather in the area and so therefore not really knowing as to how many customers will be making use of it - the place only really tends to open on an as and when basis with volunteers from the local area taking charge.
But as already noted, the dam is to be found just on the edge of Dartmoor and many people may just simply use this as a base. There are many pathways and walks around the area that all seem to converge to this place, and so therefore many people seem to like to leave their cars here and go walking (dog walking is also allowed and is a popular pastime here but dogs are to be kept on their leads at all times owing to the amount of sheep and other such farm animals that are allowed to roam freely in the area).
Of course the main part of the actual dam in itself is shallow enough to allow cars to go over it (it doesn’t even cover more than a few centimetres of your car tyres), and either side of it the water is shallow enough to allow people to go paddling in it. There is however no lifeguard cover, but in reality there is no real need for it to be there.
One thing that the area is famous for (although maybe not quite so much now as it was probably a good fifteen years or so ago), is a television soap that was filmed here. It was called The Practice or something similar, and was about a rural veterinary practice - this particular soap was I believe on BBC1, and is one of the more gentler ones that things such as Doctors (also on the same channel at lunchtimes) goes on.
Although many people seem to enjoy going to this particular area for whatever reason, I think that I can honestly say that on those times when I have been there it has never seemed to be overly busy. I think that this is mainly because there is so much to explore from here, that it seems to be less crowded than perhaps it should be. It is one of those places that enables you to be able to get away from it all, but also knowing that you are not very far away from real life.
There are however no public transport links by way of bus or train that goes to here, and so therefore the only real way to get there is by car or by bike. I will add that the main Plymouth to Tavistock road has a regular bus service, but there is quite a long walk of a few miles to get to here. Also, there is a branch line that runs vaguely past it but again the nearest station is quite a distance away.
I cannot recommend it thoroughly enough to you if you enjoy spending your time in a place setting such as this, and so therefore it just leaves me to urge you to at least give the place a quick little once over if you are ever in the area.