We spent the best part of our two-week holiday in England based in Eastbourne, at the eastern end of the South Downs Way. The topography of the area is wonderful and the chalk downs of the South Downs Way make for an amazing, windswept landscape.
Because my husband grew up in the area, he knows it intimately, and he had things on his list that he wanted to show us. Dew ponds were on the list, and we spent a lovely time exploring one just outside of Eastbourne near Beachy Head lighthouse.
Dew ponds were first used in England in the fourteenth century I believe, and were intended to provide watering holes for livestock. On the South Downs, in particular, the chalk ground makes it very difficult to collect rain, as the chalk is very porous and absorbs water, and so clay-lined dew ponds were essential for providing a steady source of water for sheep.
Naturally, dew ponds are a great haven for wildlife in general, and create wonderful spots where frogs, dragonflies and other small creatures can exist. Soulsby Farm recently published a post on How to build a rain garden, which ties in extremely nicely with the focus of water conservation and dew ponds. I recommend you go have a read.