Skipsea Withow Mere was one among many meres, or lakes, across Holderness that resulted from retreating glaciation, and may have been one of the larger ones. Hornsea Mere still exists but Withow was being consumed by coastal erosion some four centuries ago.
The eastern remnant, a lake margin marked by beds of peat and sediments, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and a number of studies have been conducted over recent years.
Organic material within the peat layers is dated as being nearly 10,000 years old at the bottom and around 4,500 years at the top.
Meanwhile, erosion by the sea is relentless. The first three pictures are of the track leading to Withow from Cliff Road, off Hornsea Road, Skipsea [TA 18152 55186]. They depict cliff recession over a period of twenty-two months.
On the left of the picture, a concrete base can be seen. Some historic satellite imagery shows the cliff top community still situated on the seaward side of the track [5th August 2011].
[30th April 2012].
[26th May 2013].
Further along, the way is lost completely [30/04/12].
A route along the cliff top is not only physically denied but officially, too [02/06/13].
Alternative access to the Withow site is possible by walking the Withow Dyke, part of which is shown here, from Mr Moo’s ice cream parlour on the B1242 road [30/04/12].
Gap leading to the beach [16/04/12].
Sketch of main beds at Withow.
Skipsea Withow site from low water. The yellow thread at the left of the picture is a dangling drainage pipe. There is a small tent pitched on the stony heaped beach under the southern exposure. Surface level of the mere may have been about five or six metres above the present beach [15/07/12].
Section of the northern exposure [30/04/12].
From a different angle [30/04/12].
Close-up of northern exposure [30/04/12].
The southern exposure [30/04/12].
Close-up of southern exposure [16/04/12].
Silts and gravel beds [16/04/12].
Wave undercut [30/04/12].
Ancient logs from post-glacial forests in peat [30/04/12].
Long piece [16/04/12].
Cross section [30/04/12].
Split lump of peat (fallen on to side) [30/04/12].
Large lump of peat material [30/04/12].
Wartime debris provides a rest [15/07/12].
Incoming tide at Withow [16/04/12].
Pictures and text by Brian Williams.