Gartmorn Dam and Country Park

One of Alloa’s premier attractions, the man-made reservoir provided the water supply and power for the town’s industrial development with plentiful water and power for a range of industries to develop from mining to textiles, brewing to glass making before becoming a haven for local wildlife and a popular destination for walkers and those looking to enjoy the tranquillity of the great outdoors not far from the bustling town of Alloa.

Pre- & industrial history
Gartmorn Dam has a long history dating back to the late 17th century when it was first built. A watercourse (lade) to New Sauchie was included in this. It is claimed to be Scotland’s first water reservoir ever built.
This was due to the foresight of John, the 6th Earl of Mar, who saw the need to construct a dam to deepen and expand the little Gartmorn Loch. The reservoir’s natural supply, Brothie Burn, has a limited rainwater catchment area.
The water from the dam was first used to power pumps that removed water from coal mines in the area surrounding and next to the dam, as well as the New Sauchie collieries via the Upper Lade. Later, the Lower Lade supplied industry in Alloa as well. Alloa became known as the town built on water.
The Gartmorn system was purchased by the Burgh of Alloa near the end of the 19th century and became the municipality’s public water supply.
Later however, open cast mining above Forestmill contaminated the water supply, so the reservoir was discontinued as a source of public water supply.

Post-industrial history

Following the industrial decline in Alloa, similar to that seen in much of Scotland, the reservoir and its location provided an opportunity to support local wildlife and provide a visitor attraction for locals and tourists alike to enjoy the great outdoors.
The reservoir is based on a natural loch that existed here prior to the damming and was always home to all kinds of animals.
Gartmorn Dam, which contains a variety of rare pond weeds, was designated as a nationally important site of special scientific interest in the early seventies, and a portion of it is also designated as a Local Nature Reserve because it is an important site for migrating birds during the winter months. Many birds, such as the little and great crested grebes, dwell in Gartmorn all year and breed there in the summer.
The body of water is home to wild brown trout, and shoals of immature perch can frequently be spotted. They prefer to live in dense populations because it helps them escape being eaten by larger fish like local pike.
The old pump house behind the dam was converted into a tourist centre in the early eighties, making it Clackmannanshire’s first and only country park. A purpose-built visitor centre was inaugurated a decade later. The park’s existence is overseen by the council’s ranger service, which also organises events for tourists and volunteers.
Scottish Water today owns the reservoir, while Clackmannanshire Council, the Forestry Commission, and private landowners hold the country park surrounding the reservoir. It is a significant local natural reserve as well as a recreational facility that is open to the public at all times of the year.
Taking the example of Gartmorn, you can transform your Clackmannanshire garden into something special with a help of a local landscaping company and a responsible waste management company to take away the green waste and rubble. Call Skip Hire Alloa to order a skip for your garden project today on 01259 235650.

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