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Dartmoor National Park – Devon

Meldon Reservoir

Some 400 people came together to reclaim and celebrate these lands, and ensure that this landscape is part of all our lives and stories.

Surrounded by steep-sided banks and approximately 900 feet above sea level, Meldon Reservoir, managed by South West Water, offers some of the most breathtaking scenery that Dartmoor has to offer.

The mix of rolling moorland with brutalist architecture gave a stunning backdrop to circus performers, dancers and singers. Our Dartmoor Lumenators wove through the network of off-road pathways, bridleways and old tracks across the valley, creating a magical moment in the middle of May.

An Audio Described version of this film will be available soon.

Event Notebook

Dartmoor - Meldon Reservoir Inside the dam

Meldon Reservoir and dam are functional and powerful, and we wanted to capture the importance and preciousness of the water underpinning these magnificent constructions. We worked with The Shouting Mute, Dave Young who put his thoughts on water together to form….

Rippling Waters
Reflecting visions of ourselves. Mists cloud our judgment to see the hidden truths.
Power to refresh us.
Drips and drops.
Source of all beginnings.
Splashes, the energy of life.
A key to many solutions.
Power to provide for us.
Power to calm us.
Power to entertain days out, clearing our winding minds.
Power to be at home.
Power to share life and link us as one. Power to blow us away.
Drips and drops.
The source of all beginnings.
Splashes, the energy of life.
A Key to many mysteries.
Quenching our thirst to see wild beauty flowing. Catching the light to make a rainbow, a spectrum of the colours of the universe.
Power to become the foundation of life, anywhere in space where life is.
Don’t look too deeply.
Drips and drops.
The source of beginnings.
Splashes, the energy of life.
A key to many mysteries.
You will find life in, near and around the power of water.

Dave Young, The Shouting Mute
The Power of Water
Dartmoor - Meldon Reservoir Attendees

The Source of All Beginnings

The poem formed the lyrics which were arranged by Colin Rea and set to music composed by Ally Bryan, a young composer from Plymouth.

You can download the score here

We began the day by erecting our beacon on the dam. On the top of a circus pole two aerial acrobats climbed high, twirling around and beaconing the water with a single light.  The next day, the lights grew as Lumenators travelled to our secret location via mystery buses.  All ages and abilities learned movement inspired by the power of water and guided by choreographer Natasha Player and assistant Jodie Cole.

Dartmoor - Meldon Reservoir Attendee

Memories were shared, stories were told and friendships made.  On day two choirs from all over the region, led by Colin Rea, raised their voices across the water. They were joined by dancers from London, Bournemouth and  Plymouth, who danced, krumped (that’s a form of street dance), glided and spun across the dam in the warm glow of the many lights now gathered.

Dartmoor - Meldon Reservoir Performer

‘ I am a Lumenator!’
A thought, a moment, a silent shout,
Myself and others standing in the near darkness
A connection; a pathway through the night
The contours of a familiar place
Seen so often, but as I’ve never seen them before
A string of lights, fluid movement;
men and nature as one
adding beauty to the already beautiful.

I am a Lumenator!
But I am not just a light giver to this moment
Immersed in this space. I must herald its worth –
its beauty, its life, its healing power.
For all who are now
and all who are to come
I must work to protect it.
Those who follow must know and feel its wonderfulness too.
I go, buoyed by my connection
renewed in my conviction
charmed once more by the magic of all that surrounds me.

I am a Lumenator and I must roar!


Inspired by the moment of silence, standing on the steps at Meldon Reservoir. Such a powerful moment.

Dartmoor - Meldon Reservoir Attendee
some rocks sat underneath a tree that overlooks a beautiful farming landscape.

About Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor was designated as a National Park on 30 October 1951 and covers 368 square miles of upland moorland, river valleys, woodlands and enclosed farmland. It includes a number of small towns on its periphery, and many small villages and hamlets. The nearest cities are Plymouth and Exeter.

Dartmoor is known for its granite bedrock, which covers 65% of the National Park. Where erosion has exposed this granite, it forms Tors (rock formations) of which there are 160. The highest point on Dartmoor is High Willhays Tor at 621 metres or 2,039 feet above sea level. The lowest point on Dartmoor is Doghole Bridge at 30 metres or 98 feet above sea level. The predominant land use is farming with cattle, sheep and ponies found roaming on the open common land.

Dartmoor is known for its ponies, a unique breed to the area and a pony is the symbol of the National Park Authority. As well as its landscape and wildlife, Dartmoor is also known for its archaeology with remains dating back to the Stone Age. Evidence of both farming and mining can still be seen in the landscape we see today, which is among the finest archaeological landscapes in Europe.

Other things of interest include a prison built to house Napoleonic and American prisoners of war – still used today as a category C prison – and Dartmoor’s many myths, legends and literary influences such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

We’d like to thank all the groups who participated in this event:

  • Big Noise Chorus
  • Bittersweet Harmony Community Choir
  • Breathless Singers
  • Carefree Choir
  • Coffee Cup Choir
  • People’s Company Voices, Theatre Royal Plymouth led by Simon Elvin
  • Far Flung Dance Theatre
  • Funky Llama
  • Our Space

Thanks to our stakeholders:

  • Dartmoor National Park
  • South West Water
  • Theatre Royal Plymouth
  • Natural England
  • Philip Heard
  • Dartmoor Wheeled Access Group


Event produced by Cirque Bijou and Extraordinary Bodies

Photography: André Pattenden