Dew ponds – sometimes called cloud ponds or mist ponds – are man-made ponds which 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. For almost 200 years, farmers relied on these ponds to provide water for livestock, so the ponds were regularly maintained as an essential part of the farm.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has worked with the local farming community on a two-year project to restore a network of these ponds right across the Wolds. They’re once again an important feature in the landscape and an oasis for an array of wildlife such as emperor dragonflies, great diving beetles, frogs, toads and newts. They are also an important source of water for farmland birds, which have declined rapidly in recent years, as well as mammals such as deer and hare.
You can discover several of these dew ponds along a beautiful circular trail in the Wolds, starting from the picturesque village of Thixendale.