The 170-acre reservoir was engineered by Sir John Erskine, the 6th Earl of Mar, to power the pumps which drained his Sauchie mines. The water power his project provided was the catalyst for Alloa's industrial development.
When Sir John Erskine, the sixth Earl of Mar, inherited the Alloa Estate in
1689, many debts came with it. Sir John, an important statesman of the time,
rose to meet the challenge!
In 1710 he secured a customs house for the port of Alloa and in doing so, began the boom in local industry. The demand for coal was fast increasing and Lord Mar took advantage of this by improving his mines in Sauchie. As surface coal ran out and mines grew deeper, flooding became a problem. The famous Welsh engineer, George Sorocauld was brought in for advice and water pumps were built at the ‘Holtone’ pit in Sauchie. These pumps were driven by a huge water wheel, which needed more water than could be found in the Sauchie, or Brothie burns. A weir was built on the river Black Devon at Forestmill and a lade dug out two miles to the marshy hollow that was then Gartmorn. An earthen dam held back the water, providing a constant supply for the Sauchie pumps and creating the largest artificial body of water in Scotland at that time.
Today Gartmorn is a peaceful retreat for people walking, cycling, horse riding or picnicking. An orienteering course is also available - please ask at the Visitor Centre or contact us using the details below.
There is an extensive path network throughout the "Wee County" and the park links many of these routes with local communities.
The area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is an important site for migratory wildfowl in the winter months. Many birds also live at Gartmorn all year round and breed here in the summer time.
There are various lovely walks to take at Gartmorn Dam and Ramblers Scotland have introduced Medal Routes Walking Hubs, which include various routes round the dam.
Their volunteers are mapping Medal Routes across Scotland. As the routes become available Ramblers Scotland will be updating their information so that the routes can be printed.
There is free parking near the Visitor Centre and main footpaths.
There are a number of easily accessible areas for wheelchair users . Other areas may be accessible with assistance, including the circular route around the dam.
Activities within the Country Park includes:
Walks - Superb walks around the Country Park leading to local towns and path networks.
Fishing - Clackmannanshire Council’s Leisure Services operates a brown and rainbow trout fishery during the summer. A leaflet is available and permits are required. Details from the Visitor Centre during April - September and from Leisure Services during October - March.
Discovering Wildlife - The reservoir is an important overwintering site for wildfowl.
There is a bird hide and viewing screens. The hide requires a key, which is available
from the Centre. Woodland habitats are also worth investigating.
Orienteering - An orienteering course is available on the southern side of the Dam. Please ask at the Visitor Centre or contact the Ranger Service for further details. There is a map of the course in the visitor centre (open April – September)
For more information on what can be found in the country park visit the website at http://www.clacksweb.org.uk/document/2271.pdf or contact Clackmannanshire Council on 01259 450000
Gartmorn Dam Country Park and Nature Reserve is within easy reach of any of Cooper Cottages self-catering holiday cottages and would provide a great family day out while on holiday in the central Scotland area.