Dew ponds

Dipping pools for watering cans; rain puddles for skippy kids; placid baptismal ponds and secretive river pools where the best trout lie; flood meadows and out-of-the-earth spring pools; dew ponds and canal side windponds.

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A cattle feeder marooned in an old pond near Sink Farm, Herefordshire

The dew pond: filled with dew drops or rain drops? Country Life (June 2 2006) suggests the former: “According to folklore, it is the overnight dew itself, falling … on the ponds themselves, that keeps them full, whatever the weather.”

However Plantlife’s Jo Costley (The Earth’s Eyes, March 2016) declares: “We now know that most of their water comes from rainfall, rather than condensing dew.
“But the fascination remains, and it is certainly the case that ponds were built with dew-catching in mind, many being built on a bed of straw to keep the stone lining insulated from the warmth of the ground beneath.”

Dew pondsmen used to find useful winter work constructing these “earth’s eyes” which also served as handy habitats for all kinds of wildlife including great crested newts. But being more susceptible to contamination, few survived the 19c arrival of the galvanised-iron trough.

The good news is that in some parts of the country (the Peak District National Parks, for starters) efforts are being made to restore some of these delightful watery features.