Dew Pond

We have been repairing a Dew Pond

A Dew Pond gather its water from rain, mist and dew  but there is also a certain mystery about as to why Dew Ponds  never dry up even in the dryest weather.

The Yorkshire Wolds is chalk based and water seeps through the chalk so providing water for livestock was difficult.  THIS IS IN THE TIME BEFORE MAINS WATER WHEN VILLAGES AND FARMS HAD A WATER PUMP.

So dew ponds were built on the Wolds to water livestock. Without dewponds livestock would not have been able to graze for as long on the Wolds. 

Dew Pond being cared for

Dew Pond being cared for

This Dew Pond in the photo abvoe was so overgown by plants and full of mud it had to be cleaned out.  This was a big  job.  I so wish I had taken a photograph of how it was before it was cleaned, but the photo shows the Dew Pond nearly cleaned out.

I was always told that a dew pond was built where 4 fields met.  They were built so that livestock from 4 fields could use the same dew pond.  How clever is that?

I would love to know more about the people who built  dewponds.

I don’t even know when this dew pond was built, but a lot of knowledge has gone into building it. 

By building a dew pond and lining it with clay the men who built it knew that the water gathered in the clay lined dew pond and would not seep away as it would in a chalk based pond. 

Here is a photograph of the original clay base that was put there many, many years ago, by who we don’t know.  But as I say a lot of knowledge has gone into building this Dew Pond.  This picture of the original clay base is very rare as Dew Ponds are, of course, usually full of water

Clay Base of an old Dew Pond

Clay Base of an old Dew Pond

Other names for dew ponds are 

  • ‘Sheep Ponds’ or ‘
  • Ship ponds’
  • in the Sussex dialect.
  •  ‘Mist Ponds’, ‘
  • Fog Ponds’.

This dewpond became full of mud and choked with overgrown plants.

We knew it would be fatal to the pond if we pierced the clay lining as the water would seep through the Wolds chalk and away into caverns deep underground
 
It took a lot of time and effort over two or three weekends to clean out this pond.  I was going to help, but nearly slipped in the mud so gave up before I started as I knew they would be better off without me.

A lot of the work was done by bucket and shovel!

Can you see the tools used

Can you see the tools used

Royal al Commission on Historic Monuments Dewpond:- A shallow pond, often artificial, fed by the condensation of water from the air, occurring on high land which has no other adequate water supply

At the moment it is so good to see clear water in the dew pond and see it is not choked by plants any more

Hard work done - Dew Pond  Refreshed

Hard work done - Dew Pond Refreshed

 

This Dew Pond is home to a lot of wildlife.  We get ducks landing, stopping and taking off again.  They waddle from the pond to the field without a care in the world.  There is sometimes a rustle in the undergrowth as you walk by.  

This dew pond is not used at all for stock now.  It was ‘repaired’ for the benefit of wildlife only So farmers aren’t all that bad are they?

Please contact me if you have any more information about these magical and mystical dew ponds. I would like to put together any information I can get including photographs and any knowledge on what does make a dewpond.  

Please remember the country code and if the dewpond is on Private Land please do not trespass or disturb livestock.

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7 thoughts on “Dew Pond

  1. Grant Mitchell

    I’d just like to know if these actually work as advertised, or if they’re actually just rain bowls. Or both; if they’re watertight, of course they’ll hold rain, but do they replenish even without rain? How closely have your colleagues observed these ponds, and can they verify with good confidence that they’re actually primarily dew-fed as the local legends go? If so, I’d be very interested in knowing more.

  2. Trish Post author

    Thanks for getting in touch with me. Dew ponds did work. Most dewponds were made years ago and they were watertight. The dew ponds do seem to replenish even without rain. Dewponds were put where 4 fields met. This was so stock in 4 fields could drink. It was difficult getting stock watered by any other way. Things have changed now. Water tanks take water down to water trough. I do not know of a dew pond that is used for watering stock now. The dewpond we look after does not have any stock watering at it. The people in the past were very clever. I will look into things more and see what I can find out about other dew ponds. I do not know if the skill is still there to make a dew pond now. I will be in touch again with more information when i have gleaned some. Cheers. Trisha

  3. Grant Mitchell

    Thanks for acknowledging. While I know from some rather soggy experience that dew represents a significant form of precipitation, until recently I had never heard of anyone capturing it for later use. As far as I can tell, the stories of dew ponds replenishing in the night were last debated some time early in the 1900’s, and I can’t find any concrete measurements of that activity or what might be considered verifiable observations, much less scientific observations. As there aren’t any dew ponds in my area that I’m aware of, I can’t exactly monitor them myself! (Here in the States, it’s something of a foreign term.)

    Fog occurs nightly here from spring ’til fall, and in great amounts during summer, even in drought. I’ve long thought that shallow depressions in the ground where grass tends to stay greener during dry times might be dew-fed, but if dew collection was an established practice at one time in cooler temperate climates like yours and mine, that means my theory was already put into practice long ago. If it works, I’d be very interested in perhaps landscaping or gardening around a feature like that.

    I look forward to any anecdotes, legends, or first hand accounts you have to share!

  4. Phil Currah

    I believe the dew ponds were lined with straw bales first and then clay , this insulates the water from the heat of the earth .
    Then as the mist passes over the cool of the pond water , the mist or humid air condenses and tiny droplets form and drop into the pond .
    You can actually stand and watch this happen , I believe the national trust repaired dew ponds in the Wolds many years ago and I watched a documentary on it

  5. Trish Post author

    Hi Phil, thanks for getting in touch. Interesting that dew ponds were lined with straw bales. I did not know that. I shouldn’t think many people do realise that. It is amazing that as the mist passes over the cool of the pond water , the mist or humid air condenses and tiny droplets form and drop into the pond . Dew ponds were very skilfully made. In a way it is a shame they are not needed now.
    I must put some up to date photos of the pond on Bird Table News. the pond has duck visit every year. We take it for granted they will arrive. Don’t know where they come from or where they go to.

    I don’t think the dew pond will dry up. The garden pond we have with its plastic lining would eventually dry up if it was left.

    I wonder if there is a special Dew Pond Group anywhere

    Trisha

  6. Peter Smith

    Hello Trish, I trust that by now after a period of 5 years, you have managed to research the subject of ‘dewponds’ fully and are now a leading authority on them! It is so good to see that you have taken the trouble to save and restore one of these increasingly rare features of our landscape. I was brought up on a Wolds farm and have written a booklet on so called dewponds in an attempt to dispel the myths surrounding them. Your first subscriber had it right when he suggested they might just be ‘rain bowls’-an apt description as dew plays no part in their replenishment and is a complete misnomer started in Victorian times by commontators who didn’t understand the principles. I would just ask where 31 inches of rain per year goes? I hope yours is still holding water. Peter.

  7. Trish Post author

    Hello Peter, The dew pond is still there. It is near the house so we walk by it every day. My nephew looks after it and it looks lovely. I live on a Wolds farm. Yorkshire Wolds that is.

    I would love to learn more about your book and how I oould buy a copy. Rain water used to be more important on farms than it is now. Now water can be piped or taken down in water tanks for stock. Dew ponds must be very ancient. I wonder how far back in time they go. There has been farming on the Wolds for 5,000 years.

    I used to live near the Gypsey Race which runs through the Wolds and joins the sea in Bridlington. In years past this stream used to be used for watering stock.

    Very good to hear from you. I could send you some photos of the dew pond if it would interest you

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