Ghost 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 springs; dew ponds, windpools and kettles.

A pond on the Brecon Beacons

Scape, according to my 1930 New Gresham Dictionary means: an escape; transgression; a slip; the cry of a snipe when flushed; a flower stalk rising from the ground without foliage leaves. And a type of view; as in the Danish landskap

A portion of land which the eye can comprehend in a single view.

Increasingly rarely does that view encompass a pond or pool since, over the last century or so, we’ve drained three quarters of them. The global picture is worse: ponds are disappearing at a rate three times that of forest destruction.* 

So we have 5,000 wetland-dependent species under threat; Indonesian wetlands being drained for palm oil plantations; and garden nurseries plundering boglands for peat. 

It’s time to resurrect the ghost ponds, those watery retreats that were filled in long ago, but can still be found on old parish maps. 

An old pond at Merthyr Tydfil

And having found one, it’s just a matter of persuading the landowner to dig it out. Matthew Brown and James Brooks celebrate the efforts of Dereham, Norfolk farmer Nick Anema who’s restored seven: “As soon as they get water and light [back], they just spring to life.” 

*Matthew Brown and James Brooks, Pond Power, The iNews, page 33, 12.11.19).