River Avon: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Avon.

  • The River Avon is the UK’s 19th longest river, at just over 120 km.
  • It flows from its source near Chipping Sodbury in the Cotswolds, to the Severn estuary.

  • The River Avon Trail stretches for almost 40 km from Bath to Pill in north Somerset. The trail can be walked or cycled and some sections allow horse riding.
  • The River Avon flows through Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset. There are several other rivers with the same name in the UK, as well as several in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Bradford on Avon is about 12 km southeast of Bath. The town’s Norman bridge has a small round building on it, once used as the town prison.
  • Changes from low to high tide can raise the river’s level in Bristol by up to 10 metres. The expression ‘ship shape and Bristol fashion’ comes from ships navigating the river at low tide.
  • The Avon flows through Bath, one of England’s most beautiful and historic cities. The 45 metre long Pulteney Bridge is one of few in the world that has shops along both sides.
  • The 18th century Dundas Aqueduct crosses the River Avon near Limpley Stoke. It carries one of the last remaining sections of the Kennet and Avon Canal.
  • The river is an important area for several breeds of dragonflies. One of these is the scarce chaser dragonfly which is found in only a few other areas in England.
  • The Avon Gorge has become a symbol of Bristol and is one of the most spectacular stretches of the river. The gorge stretches for over 2km and is over 90 metres deep in places.
  • The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the gorge was the site of one of the first modern bungee jumps, in 1979.

What next? Discover some facts about other famous rivers.

10 Three Gorges Dam Facts

Here are ten facts about the Three Gorges Dam.

  • The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Yangtze River in China. In terms of the amount of electricity it generates, it’s the world’s largest power station.
  • The Yangtze is the third longest river in the world, at almost 4,000 miles. It passes through some of China’s most spectacular scenery, some of which has been lost due to the Three Gorges Dam.

  • The concrete and steel dam is 7,661 feet long, almost 600 feet high and used about 510,000 tons of steel – enough to build the Eiffel Tower sixty times. Some have claimed that the structure is visible from the moon, but this is not the case.
  • The power generated by the 34 generators is enormous. It is equivalent to burning 25 million tons of crude oil or 50 million tons of coal.
  • The reservoir that has been created measures 405 square miles in area and helps prevent flooding in a large area. It also allows huge ocean going freighters to sail into the heart of China.
  • There have been ongoing environmental concerns about the Three Gorges Dam. At least 1.24 million people had to be relocated, and some plant species have been endangered.

Three Gorges Dam

  • Over 100 towns and settlements were submerged when the dam was built. In addition, over 1,000 archaeological and historic sites were also submerged and lost.
  • The Chinese government estimates the dam will have cost $30 billion once completed. However, it should only take about 10 years to fully recover the costs.
  • Every year, about 265 million gallons of raw sewage are deposited in the Yangtze River. Once the dam is completed, it is believed by some that the sewage will collect in the reservoir.
  • Although the dam can withstand a large earthquake, should it ever collapse, millions of people living downstream would be in danger. About 360 million people live within the watershed of the Yangtze River.

What next? Find out about about the Aswan Dam and the Hoover Dam, or discover more river facts by visiting our rivers resources page.

Volga River Facts

Here are some facts about the Volga River.

  • The Volga River is the longest river in Europe, at 2,294 miles. It has its source in the Valdai Hills about 200 miles from St. Petersburg, and flows into the Caspian Sea.

  • The drainage basin of the Volga includes most of Western Russia, an area that is home to 11 of the 20 largest cities in Russia.
  • One of the most fascinating destinations along the river is the city of Yaroslavl, founded in the 11th century. The city is famous for its several cathedrals and beautiful frescoes.
  • In places the Volga is so wide that you cannot see the other side. Some of the world’s largest reservoirs can be found along the banks of the river.
  • The Volga River is navigable for almost all of its length, and has long been used to transport goods across this part of Russia. The river is often frozen for several months of the year.
  • The Volga delta is the largest estuary in Europe, with several hundred smaller rivers and streams. It is also the only place in Russia where flamingos and pelicans be found.
  • One of the deadliest battles in World War 2 was fought on the banks of the Volga River. The Battle of Stalingrad took place in Volgograd, a city located on a bend of the river.
  • Huge sturgeon fish can be found in the Volga River. One of the most famous Russian delicacies, caviar comes from sturgeon.
  • Pollution has affected the Volga River, and especially the caviar industry. Several thousand factories dump 10 billion cubic yards of waste into the river every year.

What next? Check out our river resources page and discover more facts about famous rivers.

River Thames: Facts and Information

River Thames Fact File

Length: 346 km (215 miles)

Source: Thames Head, Gloucestershire (England)

Mouth: Thames Estuary (North Sea)

Other Facts About The River Thames

  • The River Thames is the second longest river in the UK.
  • It is the most well-known of Britain’s rivers because it flows through central London. It also flows through (or really close by) some other important towns and cities in England, such as: Richmond, Kingston upon Thames, Windsor, Henley-on-Thames, Oxford and Reading.
  • The Thames is tidal when it flows through London.
  • More than 80 islands are contained in the River Thames. These include: the Isle of Sheppey, Canvey Island and Rose Isle.
  • The Celts referred to the Thames as Tamesas (or Tamesis), which meant ‘dark’.
  • About two thirds of London’s drinking water comes from the Thames.
  • The River Thames has several tributaries, including: the River Churn, Windrush, Cherwell, Thame, Loddon and Mole. Several rivers also join the Thames after it has become tidal. These include: the River Brent, Effra, Westbourne and Fleet.
  • The Thames becomes tidal below Teddington Lock. This is just over 50 miles from the Thames Estuary (and the river’s mouth).
  • The Thames is the home to many different types of creatures. Lots of birds can be found at different points along the course of the Thames from source to mouth (such as herons, moorhens, grebes, kingfishers and coots). The Thames supports lots of different fish species too, including: trout, chub, roach, pike and many more.
  • John Burns (a Battersea MP) famously described the Thames as ‘liquid history’. He meant that River Thames was responsible for supporting settlements upon its banks throught British history, from Neolithic times to today. The Thames has witnessed the birth of London and many of the key events in Britain’s history.
  • The Thames has been bridged more than 200 times and it has been tunneled under more than 15 times. Many of today’s bridges have been built on the site of much earlier crossing points.

The River Thames

Check out our other fact files on important rivers by clicking here or discover more London facts by visiting our London resources page.

The River Mersey: Interesting Facts and Information

River Mersey Fact File

Length: 112 km (70 miles)

Source: The Mersey is formed when three tributaries – the River Goyt, the River Tame and the River Etherow – merge in Stockport.

Mouth: Liverpool Bay (Irish Sea)

More Facts About The River Mersey

  • The River Mersey represents part the historical boundary between the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire. However, today it flows through the metropolitan county of Merseyside. In Anglo-Saxon times, the Mersey might have been the border between Northumbria and Mercia. It is thought that the name Mersey comes from the Saxon words for ‘boundary’ and ‘river’.
  • Several ferry services have taken passengers and goods across the river over the years. The Mersey Ferry runs between Pier Head (Liverpool), Woodside (Birkenhead) and Seacombe. The 60s band, Gerry and the Pacemakers, released a popular song called ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’.
  • The amount of industry that developed, from the Industrial Revolution onwards, on the banks of the Mersey had a negative effect on the quality of the Mersey’s water. In recent years, massive efforts have been made to clean the water and remove pollution. These have been very successful.
  • Atlantic grey seals, bottle-nose dolphins and harbour porpoise sometimes swim into the estuary of the River Mersey from Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea.
  • In the 18th century, the Mersey Docks in Liverpool were one of Britain’s busiest ports. Salt from Cheshire, coal from Lancashire, pottery from Staffordshire, metal from Birmingham and sheep from Wales were all transported out of the country on ships from the Mersey Docks.
  • Some British Hindus think that the River Mersey is sacred (like the River Ganges in India).
  • Every year the Tall Ships Race takes place on the River Mersey.

The River Trent: Facts and Information for Kids

River Trent Fact File

Length: 298 km (185 miles)

Source: Biddulph Moor, Staffordshire (North Sea, England)

Mouth: Humber Estuary (England)

Other Facts About The River Trent

  • In the past, the course of the River Trent was used to mark the boundary between the North and the South of England.
  • The River Trent has many tributaries, including: River Derwent, River Idle, River Leen, River Sow and the River Tame.
  • The River Trent flows through the Midlands and many towns and cities have been situated close to it. They include: Stoke-on-Trent, Lichfield, Burton upon Trent, Derby, Nottingham, Newark-on-Trent and Scunthorpe.
  • The Trent is the third longest river in the United Kingdom.
  • Unusually for rivers in Britain, the River Trent flows in a northerly direction.
  • Some people believe that the name of the River Trent is linked to the Celtic word for ‘strong flood’.
  • Over 80 bridges cross the River Trent. Perhaps the most spectacular of these is The Swarkestone Bridge, Britain’s longest bridge made of stone. This bridge is located about 5 miles south of Derby.
  • The River Trent passes through several different English counties: Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire.
  • The River Trent was an incredibly important trade route (particularly during the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s) and it is one of the main reasons why the Midlands became a key industrial area during the Industrial Revolution.
  • In Nottingham, the River Trent flows under the beautiful Trent Bridge. This is also the name given to Nottingham’s cricket ground.
  • More than 30 different types of fish live in the Trent.
  • Today the water of the Trent is clean and largely free from pollution. This certainly wasn’t the case during the 19th and early 20th centuries when the Trent was polluted by the emissions from the many factories which used its water in their manufacturing processes.

The River Severn: Facts and Key Information

River Severn Fact File

Length: 354 km (220 miles)

Source: Plynlimon (Wales)

Mouth: Severn Estuary (Bristol Channel, England)

Other Facts About The River Severn

  • At 354 km the River Severn is the longest river in the British Isles.
  • It flows through the region of Powys in Wales, and the counties of Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucester in England.
  • The Severn has the greatest water flow of any river in England or Wales.
  • The River Stour, River Vyrnwy, River Worfe, River Teme, River Wye and River Avon (Warwickshire Avon) are all tributaries of the Severn.
  • Several large towns have developed from the original settlements on the banks of the Severn. These include: Newtown, Welshpool, Shrewsbury, Ironbridge, Stourport, Worcester, Tewkesbury and Gloucester.
  • The River Severn is bridged in lots of places. Two of the bridges, the Severn Bridge and the Second Severn Crossing, link Wales and England by road.
  • Before the 16th Century, the Bristol Channel was known as The Severn Sea.

Here’s a link to our main river facts and resources page.