Lambwath Stream
A small, deep, and still watercourse between two green fields
Lambwath Stream
Lambwath Stream is located in East Riding of Yorkshire
Lambwath Stream
Physical characteristics
 • locationAldbrough
 • coordinates53°49′55″N 0°05′17″W / 53.832°N 0.088°W / 53.832; -0.088
 • elevation15.9 metres (52 ft)
 • location
 • coordinates
53°49′12″N 0°18′36″W / 53.820°N 0.310°W / 53.820; -0.310
 • elevation
3.2 metres (10 ft)
Length18.57 kilometres (11.54 mi)
Basin size54.88 square kilometres (21.19 sq mi)
Basin features
EA waterbody IDGB104026066860

Lambwath Stream (or Lambwath Drain), is a small beck in the Holderness area of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The stream is unusual in that despite rising only metres away from the coast, it runs inland (westwards) for nearly 19 kilometres (12 mi) into the Holderness Drain. The watercourse was heavily modified during Medieval times to act as a drain.


The Lambwath Stream rises at Aldbrough on the Holderness coast.[1] Despite being only a few metres short of the coast, the watercourse flows westwards away from the sea inland past Withernwick and Skirlaugh.[2] The stream would have originated further eastwards, but the coastal erosion on the Holderness Coast has cut into its former course. An archaeological survey of the coast shows evidence of a westwards leading river valley, that has been washed away with the erosion.[3] Historically, a major source of water for the stream was Lambwath Mere, a post-glacial lake.[4] Lambwath Mere was an important site in Medieval times being used for the supply of fish and reeds. It was valued in 1260 at 13 shillings and four pence (equivalent to £1,000 in 2023).[5] Lambwath Mere has been listed as one of the largest of the lost meres of Holderness, being approximately 1-kilometre (0.62 mi) (west to east) and 200 metres (660 ft) wide (north to south).[6]

Near to Withernwick, the stream passes through the Lambwath Meadows SSSI. The fields either side of the watercourse are known for their rich grasslands which are maintained by a traditional management system for their hay.[7] For much of its meander, the Lambwath Stream was the natural border between the north and middle divisions of what was the Holderness Wapentake.[8]

The stream drains an area of 54.88 square kilometres (21.19 sq mi), and flows for 18.57 kilometres (11.54 mi). It rises at around 15.9 metres (52 ft) above sea level, and drops some 12.6 metres (41 ft) to 3.2 metres (10 ft) at Wawne where it feeds into the Foredyke Stream (drain).[9][10][11] Attempts were made during the 19th century to get the small valley that the stream flows through either drained, or maintained as part of the Holderness Drainage Board.[12]

In 1210, the monks of Meaux Abbey were granted the right to divert water from Lambwath Stream into their own canal (Monks Dike, or Monksdike), and then in 1235 to canalise the lower reaches of Lambwath Stream itself.[13] Monksdike was nearly 20 feet (6.1 m) wide, and by 1400, it was reported that the flow of water was either severely reduced in summer, or non-existent.[14] It is possible that with the large area that Lambwath Mere covered that the monks thought they would have a good head of water, but the reverse is possibly true, and the diversion of Lambwath Stream accelerated the disappearance of Lambwath Mere.[5] William le Gros, the Count of Aumale, is recorded as having a mill on the beck before 1179.[15]

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, it was reported that flows of water in the stream could be impeded by flooding or a very high tide in the River Hull.[16] Whilst historically the responsibility for maintaining the stream fell to the Holderness Court of Sewers, in the 19th century, control of Lambwath Stream was transferred to the Keyingham Level Drainage board, later to become part of the South Holderness Drainage Board.[17][18][19] Its use as a storm drain has seen it affected by pollution; in 2019, it was subject to 99 separate pollution incidents by Yorkshire Water, lasting a total of 328 hours.[20]

The name is thought to be derived from Old Norse and Old English, meaning Lamb Ford.[21] This is believed to be because it was used to wash sheep. There was also a Lambwath House, and a Lambwath Stream in the Sutton-on-Hull area. This stream used to feed the lake in Hull's East Park, until it was covered over and filled in during the late 1960s.[22][23][24]


Lambwath Bridge, Benningholme

(upstream to downstream - east to west)


  1. ^ "A fine old church". Hull Daily Mail. No. 16, 710. 20 May 1939. p. 4. ISSN 1741-3419.
  2. ^ "Coastal Studies – the development of 'hutment colonies' – case study of Aldbrough 'Cliff Top' colony, East Yorkshire" (PDF). p. 9. Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  3. ^ Reid, Clement (1885). Geology of Holderness and the adjoining parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. London: HMSO. p. 84. OCLC 252785176.
  4. ^ "Historic Landscape Characterisation of the East Riding of Yorkshire and Kingston-upon-Hull Volume 1: Project Report". p. 111. Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  5. ^ a b Sheppard, June A. (1957). "The Medieval Meres of Holderness". Transactions and Papers (Institute of British Geographers) (23). The Royal Geographical Society: 82. ISSN 1478-4017.
  6. ^ Gilbertson, David D. (1984). Late quaternary environments and man in Holderness. Oxford: B. A. R. p. 165. ISBN 0860542874.
  7. ^ "Lambwath Meadows" (PDF). Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  8. ^ Fletcher 2002, p. 5.
  9. ^ "Lambwath Stream from Source to Foredyke Stream | Catchment Data Explorer | Catchment Data Explorer". Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  10. ^ "Aldbrough, East Riding of Yorkshire". Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  11. ^ "Wawne, East Riding of Yorkshire". Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  12. ^ Fletcher 2002, p. 109.
  13. ^ Blair, John (2007). Waterways and canal-building in medieval England. Oxford: Oxford University press. p. 197. ISBN 9780199217151.
  14. ^ English, Barbara (1979). The Lords of Holderness, 1086-1260 : a study in feudal society / Barbara English. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 92. ISBN 0197134378.
  15. ^ Fletcher 2002, p. 411.
  16. ^ Lythe, S. G. E. (December 1938). "Drainage and reclamation in the Holderness and River Hull Valley 1760-1880". Geography. 23 (4). Taylor & Francis: 239. ISSN 0016-7487.
  17. ^ Fletcher 2002, p. 405.
  18. ^ "About us | South Holderness Internal Drainage Board". Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  19. ^ Lythe, S. G. E. (December 1938). "Drainage and reclamation in the Holderness and River Hull Valley 1760-1880". Geography. 23 (4). Taylor & Francis: 241. ISSN 0016-7487.
  20. ^ Campbell, James (6 July 2020). "Map reveals waterways polluted by raw sewage". Hull Daily Mail. p. 10. ISSN 1741-3419.
  21. ^ Smith, A. H. (1970) [1937]. Place-names of East Riding of Yorkshire and York. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 70. ISBN 0-521-04907-5.
  22. ^ "Hull and East Riding Catchment Plan March 2017" (PDF). p. 28. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  23. ^ "Hull must find water for East Park lake". Hull Daily Mail. No. 24, 016. 8 January 1963. p. 5. ISSN 1741-3419.
  24. ^ "Councillor says drain decision is "disgusting"". Hull Daily Mail. No. 26, 040. 18 July 1969. p. 11. ISSN 1741-3419.


Fletcher, A. J., ed. (2002). A history of the county of York, East Riding. 7: Holderness Wapentake: Middle and North divisions. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-722797-X.