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The Severn Bore

The Severn Bore is a naturally occurring tidal wave. These natural phenomena occur in the lower reaches of a few rivers throughout the world with large tidal ranges, including the River Severn.

The Severn Bore has been known to reach two metres in height. Its average speed is 16km per hour.The Severn Estuary experiences the second highest tide anywhere in the world, and the difference between the lowest and highest tide in any one day can be more than 14.5 metres. High or spring tides occur on several days in each lunar cycle throughout the year.

The size of a bore can also be affected by opposing winds or high freshwater levels which reduce its height and delay its time of arrival, whereas a following wind can increase its height and advance the time it arrives. There is no true Severn Bore upstream at Gloucester because of weirs on the twin-armed channel near the city.

The best places to see the Severn Bore

A convenient vantage point for the bore is Telford’s bridge at Over but the bore is at its most spectacular on the section of river between Minsterworth and Lower Parting. Some of the best viewing points are:

Standing in the churchyard on the high cliff gives a view of a three or four mile stretch as the bore negotiates the Horseshoe Bend.

The road is right beside the river and river access can be gained at the Bird-in-Hand, by the old ferry or at the church.

Lower Parting
Where you can see the bore split into the two river channels.

Manor Ditch

¾ mile downstream from Lower Parting you can see the bore, perhaps as much as ten feet high, racing around the outside of the sharp river bend.

Maisemore Bridge
Here there is the added interest of the reflex wave, maybe as high as a foot, flowing back down river 10 minutes after the bore has encountered the weir.

Whichever vantage point you choose, you are likely to be astonished by the sheer power of the Severn Bore, the increasing roar as it approaches and the dramatic change in river level once the bore has passed.

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