River Wensum Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Wensum in Norfolk.

  • The River Wensum is a tributary of the River Yare (even though the Yare is larger than the Wensum).
  • The river passes by Carrow Road (Norwich City FC’s stadium). One end of the ground was once named The River End.
  • The name Wensum comes from the Old English for winding.
  • The Wensum’s source is in northwest Nofolk, close to the villages of Colkirk and Whissonsett.
  • It flows through several towns and villages, including: Sculthorpe, Fakenham, Great Ryburgh and Norwich.
  • There are lots of water mills on the River Wensum, including: Hempton Mill, Guist Mill, Bintry Mill, Lyng Mill and Hellesdon Mill.
  • The Wensum has three tributaries – River Tat, River Tud and River Ainse.
  • The River Wensum is a chalk river and it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
  • Its lower sections form part of the Norfolk Broads.
  • The River Wensum is approximately 75km long.
  • The river is popular among anglers for its barbel, chub and brown trout.
  • Several bridges in Norwich span the River Wensum, including: Bishop Bridge (dating from 1345), Foundry Bridge, Carrow Bridge, and Whitefriars Bridge.
  • The River Wensum joins the River Yare at Whitlingham.

Click here to find out some more facts about rivers.

River Taff: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Taff.

  • The River Taff is formed at Cefn-coed-y-cymmer in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales at the confluence (meeting point) of the rivers Taf Fechan and Taf Fawr.

  • It flows through Pontypridd, underneath the M4 Motorway and Cardiff. It’s mouth is in Cardiff Bay, close to the mouth of the River Ely.
  • The River Taff is 64 km long.
  • Some of its tributaries include, the River Cynon, the River Rhondda and the Nant Clydach.
  • In the mid-1800s, Isambard Kingdom Brunel came up with plans to divert the River Taff to the west, away from its old course around Cardiff Castle. This allowed for Cardiff Central Station to be built in an area that had previously been prone to flooding.

River Taff

  • The river now flows next to Cardiff Arms Park and the Millennium Stadium.
  • The River Taff used to be heavily polluted by industry along its banks. In recent years, the water quality has improved and it is becoming one of the best rivers for salmon and trout in all of Wales, although there is concern about the numbers of grayling in the river.
  • The Taff Trail follows the course of the River Taff, and takes in the sites of Castle Coch, Rhondda Heritage Park and Cyfarthfa Castle.

The River Taff

  • The Pont-y-Cafnau (the Bridge of Troughs) which crosses the River Taff in Merthyr Tydfil, is the world’s earliest surviving iron railway bridge.
  • In 1795-6, J. M. W. Turner created a painting of the construction of a new bridge in Cardiff over the River Taff.

What next? Discover some more facts about rivers.

River Tyne: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Tyne.

  • The River Tyne is formed at Warden Rock near Hexham at the confluence (meeting point) of two rivers, the North Tyne (with its source in Kielder, Northumberland) and the South Tyne (with its source in Alston Moor, Cumbria).

  • The river flows through Corbridge, divides Newcastle and Gateshead, divides Jarrow and Wallsend and flows between South Shields and Tynemouth before flowing into the North Sea.
  • From the 13th century until the mid-20th century, the River Tyne was a key route for the export of coal.
  • There are shipyards at South Shields and Hubburn.
  • The name Tyne was first recorded in Anglo-Saxon times, but its meaning isn’t clear.
  • It is believed that the in Roman times the River Verda was the River Tyne.
  • The River Tyne is crossed more than 20 times, by a variety of different bridges and tunnels. These include, the New Tyne Tunnel, the High Level Bridge,the Tyne Bridge, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the King Edward VII Bridge, the Constantius Bridge and the Ovingham Bridge.

River Tyne

  • The River Tyne has featured in many songs over the years, including: Fog on the Tyne by Lindisfarne, This Is a Low by Blur, Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello, Blood on the Rooftops by Genesis and Driving in My Car by Madness.
  • Barbel (a type of fish) were introduced to the River Tyne in the 1980s in Hexham.
  • There is also a River Tyne in Scotland.

Tyne Bridge

  • Anglers come to the River Tyne to catch salmon and sea trout.
  • Archaeologists have discovered the remains of beavers and moose on the banks of the River Tyne.
  • The headland at the mouth of the Tyne has been home to people since the Iron Age.
  • Tynemouth Castle is built on a headland overlooking Tynemouth Pier. Built in the 13th and 14th centuries, the castle incoporated an earlier Priory.

What next? Discover some more river facts.

River Ribble: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Ribble.

  • The River Ribble starts at Ribblehead at the confluence (meeting point) of the Gayle Beck and Cam Beck rivers.

  • Its mouth is between Southport and Lytham St. Annes on the Irish Sea coast.
  • The River Ribble is 121 km in length, and flows through Settle, Clitheroe, Ribchester and Preston.
  • Its tributaries include, the River Hodder, the River Calder and the River Darwen.
  • The Ribble Way is a footpath that follows the course of the river along the Ribble Valley.
  • The river flows through North Yorkshire and Lancashire.
  • Both the Liverpool Canal and the Lancaster Canal are linked to the River Ribble.
  • The Ribble is one of the key breeding spots for Atlantic salmon.
  • In Roman times it is thought that the River Ribble was referred to as the Belisama, and the remains of a Roman fort have been found at the crossing-point at Ribchseter.

River Ribble

  • In 1840, a large hoard of Viking silver was discovered on the banks of the River Ribble at Cuerdale.
  • Many protected species live in the River Ribble, including the Eurasian otter and white-clawed crayfish.
  • The mouth of the River River Estuary is about 10 miles wide.
  • Archaeologists have found evidence to suggest that people have been living on the banks of the Ribble since Neolithic times.
  • In the time of the Anglo-Saxons, the River Ribble formed part of the northern border of Mercia, one of the kingdoms in Britain.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien enjoyed walking in the Ribble Valley, and some people believe that the landscape helped him to come up with Hobbiton, one of the regions of Middle Earth in his The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It has been said that the old ferry that used to cross the Ribble where it is joined by the rivers Calder and Hodder (shut down since the 1950s), was the inspiration for the Bucklebury Ferry. The Brandywine River in Tolkien’s story was supposedly based on the River Hodder.

What next? Discover some more facts about rivers.

River Forth: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Forth.

  • The source of the River Forth is in Loch Ard, about 30km west of Stirling. Its mouth is the Firth of Forth, an estuary of the North Sea.

  • The river flows through Abrfoyle and Stirling and past Cambus, Alloa, Fallin and Airth.
  • It is 47km in length.
  • Stirling harbour was a bustling port in the 16th and 17th centuries. Stirling had a strong relationship with towns in the Netherlands, and many goods were imported from Europe and exported to Europe during this time.
  • During World War 2, Stirling was an important port for the import of tea, but today Stirling harbour is no longer in use.
  • In Stirling there has been a bridge across the Forth River since the 13th century.
  • The Battle of Stirling Bridge was fought in 1297 between the forces of William Wallace and Andrew Moray, and the English army during the First War of Scottish Independence.
  • The Forth is spanned by numerous bridges, including: The Clackmannanshire Bridge, the Forth Bridge, the Forth Road Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing (still under construction).
  • Stirling Castle overlooks the River Forth.
  • The Forth Islands are a collection of small islands in the Firth of Forth estuary (where the River Forth flows into the North Sea).
  • The Isle of May is the biggest island in the Forth. It became a place of Christian pilgrimage and was raided by the Vikings in 870.
  • The Isle of Inchkeith was often used as a quarantine zone during outbreaks of plague and other contagious diseases.

What next? Discover some more facts about rives by visiting our Rivers resources page.

River Dee: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Dee.

  • The River Dee has its source in the Snowdonia Mountains in Wales. It is 110 km long, and reaches the sea in an estuary between the Wirral and North Wales.

  • Part of the river forms the boundary between England and Wales. From the 5th century to the Middle Ages, it formed the border of the Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd.
  • The River Dee estuary is an important area for wildlife, including waterfowl. During winter, over 100,000 birds nest around the estuary, including gulls, sandpipers, egrets and white tailed eagles.
  • The Dee flows through the Welsh market town of Llangollen. The town is famous for its Eisteddfod, or music festival which dates from 1943 and which attracts performers from over 50 countries.
  • The 14th century stone bridge over the Dee is one of the 7 wonders of Wales. It was extended in the 19th century, and at one time a café was located in a tower on the bridge.
  • The River Dee also flows through the historic walled city of Chester. The city is famous for its medieval shops known as the Rows, its racecourse, and its Roman remains.
  • Crossing the River Dee at Froncysyllte is the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, built in 1805 to carry the Llangollen Canal. It is 307 metres long and rises almost 40 metres above the river.
  • The Dee has its source on the slopes of Mt. Dduallt, near the village of Llanuwchllyn. Early in his career, the naturalist Charles Darwin spent time in the area studying rocks.
  • The catchment area of the River Dee is about 1,800 square km. One of the largest lakes on the Dee is Bala Lake, well known for its clear, blue water.
  • Every year, the Chester Raft Race, a charity event, takes place on the River Dee. Canoeing, fishing and white water rafting are also popular along the river.

What next? Discover more river facts by visiting our river resources page.

River Nene: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Nene.

  • The River Nene is the 10th longest river in the UK, at 161 km long. It flows from its source in Arbury Hill in Northamptonshire, to the Wash in Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

  • In April 1998, heavy rain caused the Nene to flood. In 2002 in Northampton, flood walls were built and a siren warning system installed, to protect and alert residents.
  • The Nene Way is a long distance footpath, following the banks of the Nene for much of its length. Walkers on the trail can explore sites associated with Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • The River Nene is navigable for most of its length, from its junction with the Grand Union canal to the Wash. Boats up to 23 metres long can safely use the river.
  • Northampton is one of the largest towns in England. It was once an important centre for shoe making, and much of the town was destroyed by fire in 1675.
  • Several watermills are on the banks of the Nene. Hardwater Mill is almost 1,000 years old and was used as a hiding place by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the 12th century.
  • Watling Street passes over the River Nene, close to its source. The ancient trail stretched from Canterbury to Hadrian’s Wall, and was used by the Romans.
  • The Nene Washes is a specially protected area of 15 square km along the river. In winter, thousands of birds nest here on their way south, including owls, lapwings and swans.
  • Not far from the River Nene is the Nene Valley Railway. Restored steam trains run on the 20 km line and it has featured in over 100 films and television programmes.
  • The city of Peterborough is one of the sunniest and driest places in the UK. A green metal railway viaduct crosses over the River Nene, designed by the famous engineer, Joseph Cubitt.

What next? Discover more facts about rivers by visiting our rivers resources page.

River Orwell: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Orwell.

  • The River Orwell flows entirely within the county of Suffolk. It is about 20 km long and flows from the River Gipping to the River Stour estuary.
  • The Orwell enters the North Sea at Harwich, near the port of Felixstowe. The port is Britain’s busiest container port, and even has its own police force.
  • The writer of 1984, George Orwell, was born Eric Blair, and took his new name from the river. Orwell got much of his inspiration from walking along the river banks.
  • A 1957 film, Yangtze Incident, set in China, was filmed on the River Orwell. The nearby naval base was also used as a stand in for a Chinese gun emplacement.
  • The Orwell Bridge, opened in 1982 and is one of only two bridges over the river. When it opened, the 190 metre long bridge was one of the world’s longest concrete bridges.
  • Part of the Stour estuary is now a nature conservation area, home to rare birds, sponges and algae. Thousands of birds nest on the Orwell’s mud flats during the winter.
  • The River Orwell flows through Ipswich, which was once an important trading port with the Baltic area of Europe. It is said to be England’s oldest continually inhabited town.
  • Harwich is an important port, offering ferry service to the Netherlands. For many centuries it was the only safe place to anchor between the Humber and Thames Rivers and was once home to a Royal Naval base.
  • Sailing is popular on the River Orwell, and there are several sailing clubs and marinas. During World War II, many landing craft used in the D-Day invasion were stored in the area.
  • The village of Pin Mill features in two children’s books about sailing, by the popular writer Arthur Ransome. The 1950 film, ‘Ha’penny Breeze’ was also filmed in the area.

What next? Discover more river facts by visiting our river resources page.

River Spey: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Spey.

  • The River Spey is 170 km long and flows from Loch Spey into the Moray Firth. It is the fastest flowing river in Scotland, and the 9th longest in the UK.
  • The Moray Firth is the largest in Scotland, with 800 km of coastline. Part of it is a protected wildlife area, and it is one of the best places in the UK to see whales and dolphins.

  • A long distance footpath, the Speyside Way, follows the River Spey through much of the county of Moray. It is one of Scotland’s four Great Trails, and can be walked or cycled.
  • The river’s speed increases as it gets closer to the sea.
  • It has broken through its banks on several occasions, once damaging parts of the 15th century Gordon Castle.

River Spey

  • Trout fishing is popular on the Spey and is some of the best in the UK. A unique double handed fly rod cast was introduced here and is known as the Spey cast.
  • The River Spey flows through the Highland ski resort of Aviemore. The town is also known for its ancient stone circle and for the UK’s only free grazing reindeer herd.
  • Newtonmore on the banks of the Spey is close to the exact geographical centre of Scotland. The popular television series Monarch of the Glen was filmed in the area.

The River Spey

  • The River Spey descends almost 380 metres over its length, making it popular for canoeing. Heavy rain or snow can often make the river deeper and faster flowing.
  • Insh Marches occupy 10 square km on the banks of the River Spey and are an important wetlands area. In 2014 a rare type of moth was found here.
  • More whisky is produced along the banks of the Spey than anywhere else in Scotland. The world’s best-selling single malt whisky, Glenfiddich, is distilled here.

What next? Discover more river facts by visiting our Rivers resources page.

River Great Ouse: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Great Ouse.

  • The River Great Ouse is about 230 km long, flowing from Syresham in Northamptonshire to the Wash. It’s the longest of several British rivers named the Ouse.
  • The Wash is one of the largest estuaries in Britain. It is known for deep channels, shallow water and salt marshes and is where King John supposedly lost the Crown Jewels in 1216.

  • The Great Ouse flows through several English counties, and towns including Bedford, Ely and Milton Keynes. Its catchment area covers 8,300 square km and about half its length is navigable.
  • King’s Lynn, on the banks of the Great Ouse was once one of Britain’s busiest ports. It is home to St. Margaret’s church, one of the largest in England.

River Great Ouse

  • The cathedral city of Ely lies on the Great Ouse. During the 18th century, it took boats about 6 hours to make the 32 km trip to Cambridge.
  • Canoeing and kayaking are popular on the river. In 1944, the Oxford and Cambridge boat race was held on the Great Ouse, the only time it didn’t take place on the River Thames.
  • The Ouse Valley Way is a footpath following the length of the river. The Pathfinder March takes place along some of the route; it celebrates the RAF bomb squadrons from World War II.
  • The Great Ouse flows through the Norfolk Fens, an area of low laying farmland. The area was originally swampland, and was drained in the 17th century by the Earl of Bedford.
  • During the Middle Ages, the Great Ouse flooded often, and sometimes changed its course. A 1600 act of Parliament allowed land owners to be paid for drained land.
  • The Bedford River Festival has been held every two years since 1978. The Great Ouse linking Bedford to the coast is celebrated with illuminated floats, dragon boats and a kayak slalom.