There has been considerable progress in developing treatment systems for point sources of minewater pollution in recent years; however, there remains a knowledge gap in the characterisation and remediation of diffuse minewater sources. Data are presented from the River Gaunless catchment, a historically heavily coal mined catchment in the northeast of England. Instrearn iron (Fe) loadings were monitored alongside loadings arising from point minewater discharges over a 12-month period to assess the dynamic importance of diffuse sources of minewater pollution. In low flow, diffuse Sources account for around 50% of instream loading, a proportion which increases to 98% in high flow conditions. The low flow sources appear to be dominated by direct discharge of contaminated groundwater to surface waters in lower reaches of the catchment. In high flow, resuspended Fe-rich sediments, which are both naturally occurring and derived from historic mining, become the dominant diffuse source of Fe in the water column. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.