The Lonnin Head Dub must have a history written somewhere as it may not be a natural feature but was probably created as a watering facility for the fields surrounding it and for use of the Drovers driving livestock through the area. There is documentary evidence the area was once a hive of droving activity and the name of the village pub “The Highland Drove” as well as roads with wide verges must bear testament to the area once being a major droving route and probably on the route from Scotland to Eastern and Southern England.
The Dub must have required some maintenance in the past and this was probably done by the local users but in recent years it’s use diminish ed as piped water to field troughs became available to water cattle and transportation became available by train.
The clearing of the Dub as a wildlife oasis and to help protect the habitat of the resident and rare Great Crested Newt was part of the “Great Salkeld Millennium Project” and it has received a small amount of maintenance since. Bulrushes were introduced at many years ago but these have constantly been a problem and have again become very invasive, this means there is not sufficient clear water left for the Great Crested Newts to lay their eggs. With no specific figures (population count) to refer to, it can only be assumed that with the lack of the correct environment, (especially at the time of mating), can only be detrimental to the Great Crested Newts survival at this critical time in their annual cycle.
Due to licensing issues only suitably Qualified and Experienced persons who are licenced are permitted to survey and disturb them. Paul Hudson, Penrith holds a licence and has given advice to the Parish Council about the Dub and the Great Crested Newts in the past and reports about the current state of the Dub.
The project has again taken advice from Paul Hudson local (Penrith) Great Crested Newt licence holder for over 20 years who has made the following observations:
Paul Hudson local (Penrith) Great Crested Newt licence holder for over 20 years: “I have known the Great Salkeld pond/ dub since 1994, the pond was in really good condition back then and was a key site for amphibians in Cumbria supporting breeding populations of the rare and protected Great Crested newt ,smooth newt ,palmate newt, common frog and common toad however in more recent years the pond has become totally unsuitable for all amphibians due to progressive growth of mainly Bulrush (typha) the pond is now at such a late successional stage that removal of this rampant growth of vegetation and mud must be undertaken by JCB or a similar machinery ,if this could be achieved the amphibian population would certainly recover and return to healthy population levels within just a few years. In 2008 I surveyed this pond one night in April and to my surprise I saw over 20 Great Crested newts by torch light, showing the key species to be still present in low numbers, If this pond was cleared of it’s overgrowth of vegetation and mud and had open water once again I’m sure it could hold 100’s of Great Crested newts in future years. The pond is so overgrown and full of mud that it very rarely has open water beyond May each year, ideally the pond should have open water all year round or at least until September, giving the larval newts time to metamorphose.”
The following is extracted from the Great Crested Newt website www.great-crested-newt.org
Common Name: Great Crested Newt
Latin Name: Tritusus cristatus
Other names: Warty Newt & GCN
“Great Crested newts are a medium sized newt, which can be found across much of mainland Britain. The Great Crested Newt is the largest of the British newts and, in the breeding season adult males are recognisable by their jagged crest and silvery-blue and almost fluorescent stripe down the centre of the tail. Both sexes have a dark brown warty body and yellowish-orange belly with black blotches. The Great Crested Newt is widespread in Europe but is threatened and in decline throughout much of its range.
Britain has probably Europe’s largest population and is, therefore, very important to the continuing survival of the Great Crested Newt. These Newts need water-bodies such as ponds for breeding but, for most of the year, they live on dry land.
Typical breeding sites contain a number of medium to large ponds that have some areas of clear, base-rich water, deeper than 30 cm and with few fish predators. Such ponds are usually surrounded by terrestrial habitat with plentiful ground cover (e.g. scrub, trees, long grass) with moist refuges in which newts spend the daytime (e.g. log piles, rocks or other debris).
Although the Great Crested Newt does not favour garden ponds, as these are often small and offer far from ideal habitats they are recorded in larger garden pond where they are known to breed.
The species has been in decline for a number of years with Great Crested Newts becoming increasingly rare or absent in some areas. The Great Crested Newt is fully protected under UK and European Law due to its decline and vulnerability due to loss of habitat and breeding ponds.”
John Lowrey of Wetheral Cottages realising the potential the Eden Valley offers for Environmental Tourism, joined Nurture Eden which is an offshoot of Nurture Lakeland. Nurture Lakeland has been running a successful program of environmental maintenance, supported by visitor giving, within the Lake District National Park under the heading “Fix the Fells. Nurture Eden is working with businesses to keep Eden Green and promote the Eden Valley as somewhere that offers the visitor the chance to have memorable experiences in beautiful settings whilst helping to protect the environment at the same time. Wetheral Cottages have joined Nurture Eden and are currently raising funds for the Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group through visitor giving. Nurture Eden also offers grants to small environmental projects in the Eden Valley. It was during Wetheral Cottages initiation process into Nurture Eden that John became aware that the Dub, which was in need of maintenance, may be eligible for assisted funding through the Nurture Eden Small Grant Project.
John is now working with Great Salkeld Parish Council, with guidance from Paul Hudson (GCN) to initiate a maintenance program, as well as make an application to Nurture Eden for a grant to help clear the Dub and resurrect it as a suitable breeding area for the Great Crested Newt.
The most suitable time for major maintenance to be carried out is when the Great Crested Newts are
hibernating away from the Dub. This would be late October, November or early December. As the invasion of Bulrushes is now quite severe, these would be best removed mechanically. Whilst there would be some disturbance of other flora and fauna in the short term, the long term benefits would be far greater.
- A check should be carried out to ensure that the disturbance of other water inhabitants and flora is kept to a minimum.
- Care must be taken to ensure the base membrane of the Dub is not disturbed or ruptured.
- Mechanical Access
- Disposal of vegetation and silt removed ( as this will be biodegradable, it should not cause any problems)
- Ensure a schedule of regular survey and maintenance of the Dub is set out.
- Check for future agricultural run-off.
Whilst it will be of great benefit to the Great Crested Newts to undertake this project, it must also have some benefits to the community and whilst most residents within the Great Salkeld Parish are aware of the presence of Great Crested Newts living in the Dub very few will have seen these largely nocturnal creatures. To this end it is proposed to hold an open evening in the Spring of 2014 where residents of Great Salkeld can see under the guidance of Paul Hudson at first hand Newts and other pond life. This would also be a great opportunity to inform the community of the history of the Dub and explain any of the problems that should be avoided: introduction of fish, disturbance of the pond edges by dogs at certain times of year and of course the reintroduction of Bulrushes and other invasive plants must be avoided.
The Dub being situated close to the road also affords the opportunity for local groups—schools, community groups, visitors and nature groups. There is also the opportunity for limited disabled access—as access to this type of environment is often difficult without having a long and arduous walk.