The fencing is somewhat ironic, as this old dew pond was put here in the first place to provide water for farm animals. But why go to the bother, (and it must have taken some real hard graft) of constructing a pond at all? We are in a dale so you would expect to find a stream at least, but there’s no evidence of it here.
The answer is down to the underlying rock. The limestone plateau all around us is extremely porous; any rain that falls quickly disappears underground to emerge, as we shall see, much later in our journey.
Monyash’s five natural meres, sitting in thick pockets of impervious clay, would have been an extremely rare and valuable resource to ancient peoples in a dry landscape; a good, and no doubt sacred place to site a village.
These days, mains water is piped to modern water troughs and old dew ponds are instead preserved as a haven for wildlife. It is well worth standing here awhile, to see what creatures may be active in or above the water, including many different species of dragonfly, water boatmen, at least two species of newt and some terrifyingly enormous horse leeches. A teeming oasis.
Continue along the grassy path, taking advantage as you do of the Natural England information boards. Just through the third gate there is a junction of many ways;our path takes us straight down the main course of the dale and through the final gate; continue for about another 150 metres.
This trail was originally developed by Simon Corble for the Royal Geographical Society’s Discovering Britain.
Simon Corble is a theatre director, playwright and actor based in Derbyshire’s Peak District, is passionate about the countryside and discovering the hidden secrets of the natural world.