Hornsea Mere

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Swan Island, Hornsea Mere

Hornsea Mere is the largest freshwater lake in the East Riding of Yorkshire, close to the North Sea coast. Two miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide, it lies behind Hornsea: this seaside town is squashed between the mere and the sea. The mere was used as a base for the Royal Naval Air Service and then latterly, the Royal Air Force during the First World War.

Hornsea Mere is owned by Wassand Hall, situated to the west of the mere, and was purchased by the Hall's estate for £50 in the 16th century.[1]


The lake covers an area of 467 acres, is two miles long, three-quarters of a mile at its widest point and twelve feet at its deepest.[2][3] The average depth of the lake is five feet and the mere itself lies only 26 feet above sea level.[4]

The mere is fed by several small streams and a sluice gate at the eastern end of the mere controls the outflow, which travels only three-quarters of a mile eastwards to the North Sea.[5][6]

Hornsea Mere is a centre for bird-watching and a tourist attraction offering rowing, sailing, boat trips and fishing.


The lake is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area for birds;[7] it accommodates many species throughout the year, and is of international importance for a migratory population of gadwall.[5] Its shallowness results in a diverse range of swamp and fen plants.

Hornsea Mere was featured in the BBC television programme Seven Natural Wonders.[8]

==Leisure activities Rowing, sailing, boat trips and fishing take place on Hornsea Mere.

The lake is the base for Hornsea Sailing Club.[9]

RNAS Hornsea Mere

A Royal Naval Air Service seaplane base was opened on the mere in September 1917.[10] Initially, numbers 248 and 251 squadrons operated from RNAS Hornsea Mere with a headquarters at Killingholme. No. 251 Squadron operated non-water based aircraft so did not actually fly from Hornsea despite being based there.[11]

The RNAS base was located on Kirkholme Nab, a small six-acre peninsula that sticks out westwards from the eastern shore. The RNAS installed two Bessonneau hangars and two slipways from Kirkholme Nab which allowed a dozen seaplanes to be operated from the base.[12][10] Various flights flew from here in coastal protection and submarine attack operations. These flights were eventually grouped together to form No. 248 Squadron who were commanded by No. 79 (Operations) Wing (who also commanded No. 251 Squadron, hence their allocation at Hornsea Mere).[13]

A number of brick buildings left behind by the RAF in 1919 are still in use today, employed by the boatyard and the café which operate there.[14][15]

Despite being vacated by the RAF, the mere and the former RNAS buildings were used as a starting point for aerial practice runs on the bombing range at RAF Cowden on the Yorkshire coast.[16]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Hornsea Mere)


  1. "Cycle ride at Hornsea Mere". Gazette & Herald. 16 June 2011. http://www.gazetteherald.co.uk/leisure/cyclerides/9089322.Cycle_ride_at_Hornsea_Mere/. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  2. Winn, Christopher (2010). I never knew that about Yorkshire. London: Ebury. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-09-193313-5. 
  3. Chrystal, Paul (2017). The Place Names of Yorkshire; Cities, Towns, Villages, Rivers and Dales, some Pubs too, in Praise of Yorkshire Ales (1 ed.). Catrine: Stenlake. p. 105. ISBN 9781840337532. 
  4. "Hornsea Mere". https://environment.data.gov.uk/catchment-planning/WaterBody/GB30430244. Retrieved 1 November 2018. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 May, Linda; Spears, Brian; O'Malley, Michael (12 March 2010). "An assessment of nutrient sources and water quality improvement measures in Hornsea Mere" (PDF). p. 5. http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/9241/1/N009241RE.pdf. Retrieved 1 November 2018. 
  6. "Hornsea Mere" (PDF). June 2016. p. 13. http://apps.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/nvz/NVZ2017_EL113_Hornsea_Mere_Datasheet.pdf. Retrieved 1 November 2018. 
  7. "Hornsea Mere" (PDF). https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/PDFsForWeb/Citation/1002380.pdf. Retrieved 1 November 2018. 
  8. "Yorkshire and Lincolnshire - Hornsea Mere". Seven Wonders. BBC]]. https://www.bbc.co.uk/england/sevenwonders/yorkshire/hornsea_mere/. Retrieved 24 September 2009. 
  9. "Hornsea Sailing Club". Hornsea Sailing Club. https://www.hornseasailingclub.org.uk/. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Chorlton 2014, p. 44.
  11. National Monuments Record: No. 913357 – RNAS Hornsea Mere
  12. Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore (1982). Action stations 4: Military Airfields of Yorkshire (2 ed.). Cambridge: Patrick Stephens. p. 92. ISBN 0-85059-532-0. 
  13. Chorlton 2014, pp. 44–45.
  14. Chorlton 2014, p. 45.
  15. Brigham, T; Buglass, J; George, R (February 2008). "Rapid coastal zone assessment survey: Yorkshire and Lincolnshire" (PDF). p. 194. https://content.historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/rczas-bempton-donna-nook/rczas-bempton-donna-nook-pt1-rep.pdf/. Retrieved 1 November 2018. 
  16. Delve, Ken (2006). Northern England. Marlborough: Crowood Press. p. 294. ISBN 1-86126-809-2.