Lakes, lagoons and ponds
Dorset may be lacking in huge above-ground reservoirs, but it nonetheless has some spectacular bodies of water
Published in April ’15
Dorset is blessed with many things, but large areas of man-made pools of water are not amongst them. There is a single surface reservoir of significant size in Dorset, or at least a bit of it is. Sutton Bingham Reservoir covers an area of 132 acres, but only 9 of those acres are in Dorset, and the county border as it wiggles its way back and forth across the portion of water hints either at high old times at map-drawing HQ, or, perhaps more likely, that the once obvious natural features which used to form the Dorset-Somerset border were effaced from view when the reservoir was flooded.
The most prominent of Dorset’s ponds, lakes and lagoons is the Fleet lagoon. Stretching eight miles from Abbotsbury to Ferrybridge – and with an area of 1231 acres (nearly two square miles) when measured at the mean high and low water mark – the Fleet is enormous, but shallow. Along its length it varies between 200 and 3000 feet across, but is only just over 15 feet deep at its deepest and about 6 feet (in the centre) at its shallowest.
Others of our highlighted bodies of water – the lagoon at Brownsea Island and Poole Park lake – are also brackish, the former also being home to a bewildering array of native and transitory bird life.
Equally packed with wildlife, but with less of it passing through, are the fishing lakes that are dotted across Dorset and the ornamental lakes of the county’s stately homes, like Sherborne Castle, Forde Abbey and Kingston Maurward amongst others.
Perhaps the most perfectly man-made bodies of water, though less capacious than reservoirs, are the mill ponds; when gazing at their still or gently rippling waters, one is overcome by an almost instant mental calming effect.
Equally calming, although often changing with the light, are the pools formed by quarrying and clay and gravel extraction, of which Blue Pool is the most famous.
Some pools, ponds and other bodies of water – now far from civilisation – may or may not have been man-made, but this uncertainty renders them perhaps the most magical and mysterious of all. It is easy to lose onself in contemplation when gazing at water, but even in a coastal county like ours, that does not always require us to look out to sea. ◗