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Skipsea Withow Mere

 Summary -

Conservation status – SSSI

Parking – at Mr Moos Ice Cream Parlour. Ask for permission if you are in a group.

Facilities – please use the café – local dairy ice cream, drinks and snacks. Toilets.

Access – a walk along a ca. 1km grassy path, then down a low cliff.

Beach -  sand and gravel

Hazards – way down low cliff can be slippery when wet.

Safety and PPE – sensible clothes. Sensible footwear. Hard hat if you plan to examine the cliffs.

Geological highlights – type section of the Skipsea Till; Skipsea Withow Mere – lake bed and peat; beaver dam. Glacial erratics.

Other interests there or nearby – If you take you cool box you can buy large tubs of the ice cream. Skipsea Castle is the other side of the village.


Skipsea Withow Mere

(a self-guided geology walk written by Mike Horne for the Geologists' Association Conference September 2022)

Distance about 2 miles; no slopes; low cliff to climb down. PPE – hard hats optional; sensible outdoor clothing and footwear.

You can park at Mr Moos Ice Cream Parlour near Skipsea (when it is open); if you are organising a field trip for others please seek permission to park a number of cars. The site is best visited at low tide, but there is something to see at most states of the tide.

There is a signposted walk from the car park at Mr Moos heading to the coast along the perimeter of the farm, past some WWII defences. The walk is about 1 km on a grassy path. Take care because there are often hidden collapsed rabbit holes in the path. There is a low cliff to descend, usually via the stream bed, which can be slippery.

You are now at Skipsea Withow Mere SSSI (NGR TA185546). If you walk down the beach and look back you can see the lake deposits resting in a depression in the boulder clay. The site is constantly changing due to coastal erosion, about 2 metres per year.

In descending order you will see –

Soil and made ground. This may include land drainage pipes and rubble from demolished cliff top shacks.

Brown woody peat, with some quite large tree trunks. The following vegetation can be viewed – alder, English Oak, elm, birch and hazel. Recognisable hazel nuts and catkins can be seen. Recently (ca. 2019) beaver hair has been seen. A previous excavation of the site concluded that the there was a beaver damn at the site (but I don’t think this was ever published).

Black leafy peat.

Gravels on the southern side of the “mere”, sands to the north side.

Grey lake silts containing the remains of gastropods, Chara, ostracods and rare freshwater oysters.

Skipsea Till, a brown diamict, the middle of the three Tills of Holderness. Glacial erratics can be seen in the till and on the beach. These include – yellow quartz, Chalk, granite, Rhomb Porphyry, dolerite, basalt, vesicular basalt, gneiss, schist, slate, meta-quartzite, jasper, Old Red Sandstone Carboniferous Limestone, Lithostrotion, Brockram, Jurassic shelly limestone, Hildoceras bifrons, septarian nodule, grey flint, brown flint, black flint (common), Dogger, red flint, “Cheviot” porphyry, Larvikite, Middle Jurassic rootlet bed, Pentacrinus, and Jurassic belemnites.

Some characteristic erratics can be linked to their original source indicating the extent of the glaciations: Larvikite and rhomb porphyry from Norway, Brockram from north-west England, Carboniferous Limestone from north-east England, Old Red Sandstone from Scotland and black flint from the bed of the North Sea.

When you return to Mr Moos please remember to buy some of their delicious dairy ice cream which comes in many flavours. If you don’t leave too far away you could take some home in a cool box. The café also serves “lite bites” and drinks.


Further reading –

Marsters T 2011. Skipsea Withow Mere. Humberside Geologist 15

Horne M 1999 onwards. The Ice Age Coast website.


(c) Mike Horne & Hull Geological Society 2022

Copyright Hull Geological Society.