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Dipping ancient ponds

Whilst Castor and Ailsworth have been knee deep in preparing their neighbourhood plans – villagers have become more aware of the legacy they have in the landscape of their parishes. Lately enclosed in 1898 – the land bears all the hallmarks of the land as it has been over the last 500 years. Footpaths and byways situated over Roman tracks are traced by spring fed ditches sprouting water-cress and rich wildlife. The headlands resulting from a system of farming that was practiced up until just over 100 years ago give byways to old allotments a hillocky border which bears no relation to the natural gentle undulation of the surrounding land. There were once 40 ponds in the parishes and few of these survive today.

Ponds were a mainstay of the farming system – providing water for stock and refreshment for labourers. The ponds supplied irrigation and supported “cash crops” for foragers. Many of these ponds are disappearing as they become neglected and overgrown. Pond maintenance was a regular job for people of 100 years ago – they were often deepened and stocked to extend their uses. The Langdyke Countryside Trust with the support of Milton Estates are looking at these ponds and working to understand more about what to do to stem “succession” – where the pond becomes completely overgrown and eventually starved of water. Ponds house a rich variety of wildlife and this can be encouraged with careful pond management.

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