Wolds dew ponds

Wolds dew ponds

Credit: cUKi

Gazing across the rolling Yorkshire Wolds, you may spot glimmers of water among the farms and fields. These are the mysterious dew ponds...

Full of cultural heritage and historically significant, the Wolds dew ponds are a distinctive feature of the Yorkshire landscape. They provide a glimpse into past farming practises, but many had fallen into disrepair.

We've worked with the local farming community to restore a network of dew ponds across the world, so they can be a haven for wildlife and enjoyed by generations to come.

What is a dew pond?

Dew ponds - sometimes called cloud ponds or mist ponds - are man-made ponds. They were created in the 18th and 19th centuries to provide water for farm animals. In the dry, chalk landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds, a natural supply of surface water was not always available, so the ponds were an essential source of water for the animals.

Despite their magical name, it's thought that the water in the ponds came mainly from rainfall, rather than dew, clouds or mist.

Why do we no longer use them?

For almost 200 years, farmers relied on these ponds to provide water for farm animals, so the ponds were regularly maintained as an essential part of the farm.

However, in the 20th century, farming practices changed. Importantly, farms could for the first time have water piped directly to them. Farmers started to use more machinery, and stopped keeping as many animals.

All of this meant that over time, the need for dew ponds decreased and decreased. Many were lost over time.

What are Yorkshire Wildlife Trust doing?

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has worked with the local farming community on a two-year project to restore a network of these ponds across the Wolds.

We have fully restored ponds that have been dry for decades and taught farmers to manage the ponds. They're once again a feature in the Yorkshire Wolds landscape. We hope these ponds will become havens for wildlife and be enjoyed by generations to come.

Working with Driffield Agricultural Society, we've also created a demonstration dew pond at the Driffield Showground to share the history of these important features of the Yorkshire Wolds with visitors.

The project has been funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

Oral histories

Dew ponds are fondly remembered by farming communities across the country. We've spoken to three Yorkshiremen about their stories.

Listen now

Dew ponds walk

Wander across the Wolds and explore our network of dew ponds with this walk, starting and ending at Thixenthorpe.

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Potteric Carr education session

Education resources for the ponds

Find worksheets, activities and ideas for teaching dew ponds to younger audiences.

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