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Wolds’ forgotten ponds ‘dew’ a revival

Wednesday 28th June 2017

Wolds Dew Pond Project Officer Emilty McGregor by a dew pond near SledmereWolds Dew Pond Project Officer Emilty McGregor by a dew pond near Sledmere

A threatened, once distinctive and important feature of Yorkshire’s rural landscape is to be revived to benefit both the natural and cultural heritage of the region in an ambitious new project led by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and made possible thanks to National Lottery players.

Have you got any stories or memories of dew ponds to share? We'd love to hear from you!

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), over the next two years the Wolds Water project will see Yorkshire Wildlife Trust working with local farmers to restore a network of historic dew ponds stretching more than 20 miles from Thixendale to Fordon in the heart of the Yorkshire Wolds.

The Trust will also be working with Driffield Agricultural Society to create a demonstration pond at Driffield Showground to showcase the history and wildlife of such ponds to tens of thousands of visitors each year.

The dew ponds were created predominantly in the 18th and 19th centuries to provide crucial water for livestock in the dry landscape of the High Wolds.
Whilst few are used by livestock today, they are a haven for wildlife and an important historic feature of the landscape.

The project will train volunteers in pond restoration and surveying and species identification to develop a strong skill base within the local community to subsequently manage and maintain the restored ponds. A programme of educational visits, guided walks and talks will additionally inform, inspire and engage people of all ages with the heritage and history of dew ponds.

The Wolds Water project will also capture memories and stories from members of the local community who remember the ponds in use in a bygone farming age. These oral histories, together with the natural and cultural heritage identified and recorded through the project will be developed into a new online resource.

Leading the project for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is Emily McGregor, Wolds Dew Pond Project Officer: “People are at the heart of this project and we are keen to involve the local community in the full range of activities. We want to reconnect people with the history and wildlife of dew ponds so that these features once again become a core part of the culture and landscape of the Wolds.”

David Renwick, Head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “The Wolds Landscape is one of Yorkshire’s best kept secrets, but it’s becoming increasingly well known as a result of David Hockney’s paintings and the BBC 2 mini-series ‘Hidden Treasures of the Wolds’. One of these hidden treasures are its Dew Ponds. Significant in terms of their landscape and wildlife importance, they demonstrate the connection that people have with their countryside – created to water livestock they now provide a home for rare plants and animals. We’re delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we’ve been able to support this project, and give local people the opportunity to explore and preserve the natural heritage on their doorstep.”

Have you got any stories or memories of dew ponds to share? If so, or if you’d like to be involved with the project, contact Yorkshire Wildlife Trust by emailing info@ywt.org.uk or telephoning 01904 659570.