Gartmorn Dam

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Gartmorn Dam

Gartmorn Dam is an artificial lake in Clackmannanshire, in the lands between the River Devon and the Black Devon, the latter river flowing just to the south. This is the oldest reservoir in Scotland. Today it is the heart of a nature reserve.


Gartmorn Dam is an industrial water in origin. It was created in 1713 by Sir John Erskine, the sixth Earl of Mar, to serve the coal mines he owned in the area: the lake provided a head of water which powered the pumps that drained the mines. The scheme was executed by a local engineer, Robert Bald. With this achieved, the Dam also provided a source of fresh water; good water supplies and the availability of barley from the carselands encouraged George Younger to establish his brewery in Alloa.

Soon after creating Gartmorn Dam, the 6th Earl backed the 1715 Jacobite Rising and as a result he had to flee abroad and forfeited his lands.

The mines finally closed in the 1980s.


The Black Devon supplie much of the water for Gartmorn Dam; as the river runs through Forestmill towards Clackmannan there is a horseshoe weir built in 1711 by George Sorocold to direct water from the river through a sluice into the lade that fed Gartmorn Dam. The weir was added to the schedule of British listed monuments in 1972.

Kayaking on the lake

Around the dam

The area of Gartmorn Dam is a nature reserve. The lake is popular amongst anglers, and there are walks around the lake and the woods, and tracks for cyclists.

This route around Gartmorn Dam is dotted with boards dotted along the way maintained by the ranger service.

The reserve is rich in wildlife; great crested grebes, wigeon and red squirrels frequent the lake and the woods. There is a bird hide by the water. From the reserve one may climb to a viewing point with fine views of the Ochil Hills, rising from the Forth Valley.

Outside links

Beneath the dam
("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Gartmorn Dam)