Walk on the South Downs and you will come across dew ponds. You can find these small ponds wherever sheep and cattle traditionally went for summer grazing. Surviving ponds probably number at least 500 across England. Today they are often overgrown with their banks badly trampled by livestock. They have become picturesque havens for butterflies and romantic spots for ramblers enjoying a picnic.
They still have a magical and highly significant property. ‘People have noticed that they rarely run dry, even in the hottest summer, and it is apparent that, during the night, they receive a supply of water sufficient to counter-balance the great drags that are made upon them by cattle and evaporation,’ notes Edward Martin, in a research paper entitled Dew Ponds: History, Observation and Experiment.
The great mystery is where the water that fills them up at night can come from. These ponds – also known as ‘mist ponds’ or ‘fog ponds’ lie on the downs far above the level at which streams begin to form, nor does any piped-water supply reach them. The name ‘dew pond’ is the clue. According to folklore, it is the overnight dew itself, that keeps them full, whatever the weather …
Read about the local horseshoe walks: https://steyningcottages.co.uk/horseshoe-walk-steyning/