The River Severn

river Severn
Guide to the River Severn.
Covering a distance of 220 miles (352km), the River Severn (Afon Hafren in Welsh) is Great Britain's longest river. Its source is found high up in the Cambrian Mountains in Mid Wales and its trajectory takes it through the picturesque counties of Powys, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire until it discharges in the Bristol Channel.

The River Severn has many tributaries and a drainage basin area of almost 4,500 sq mi (11,500 km sq). Its major tributaries include the River Teme, Stour and Wye.

The Upper River Severn

The source of the River Severn is a small boggy area on Plynlimon, located in the beautiful Cambrian Mountains in Powys, Mid Wales. This region is famed for its walking and climbing activities, which bring many tourists to the area.

At its source, the River Severn starts at a height of 600m (2,000ft). It quickly descends through steep-sided incised valleys to an altitude of 198m (660ft) at Llanidloes, which is only 12 miles (19km) away.

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At the Welsh town of Llanidloes, the river turns northeast, heading towards the English border and flows through the towns of Newtown and Welshpool.

The river in its upper course is fast flowing and narrow and there is no flood plain in this area.

Much of the fishing in the upper course begins around Newtown and here you will find plenty of trout, pike and grayling, as well as other species such as chub, perch or barbel. During the months of March and April it is possible to catch elver in this region.

Several of the river's tributaries in Wales including the Vyrnwy, Rhiw and Mule are very good for trout fishing.

After Welshpool, the River Severn turns east and crosses into England, flowing into the scenic county of Shropshire. From here it changes direction and takes a southeasterly course passing through several large towns including Shrewsbury, where it loops around the settlement, Ironbridge and Bridgnorth.

The Middle River Severn

The middle course of the River Severn covers the area from just under Ironbridge in Shropshire to just below Worcester, flowing through the Severn Valley and the Malvern Hills, two beautiful parts of the country.

At the Ironbridge Gorge the river narrows and fast flowing water is forced to pass through a small bottleneck, making this part of the river extremely dangerous. Generally, the Severn is very erratic, abruptly changing from fairly shallow to very deep with no warning.

Further down, following a southerly course, the river widens, flows more slowly and meanders its way down through the quiet hills and tranquil countryside.

river severn at bewdley
The river between Shrewsbury and Worcester is popular for barbel and salmon fishing, as well as some bream, chub and pike.

This region is very picturesque and a popular place for many anglers with good coarse fishing at Ripple-on-Severn, Stourport, Holt Fleet, Ombersley, Upton-upon-Severn and Worcester.

At Worcester the cathedral sits prominently on the banks of the Severn and is joined by the River Teme a few miles downstream.

The Lower River Severn

The lower course of the River Severn is generally thought to start just below the city of Worcester, flowing first south and then southwest until it discharges into the Bristol Channel.

Much of this area is made up of a network of canals and locks, making this part of the river navigable to larger boats and cargo ships travelling up from the sea.

This network was also built so that water traffic could avoid the Severn Bore, the second largest natural tidal wave in the world that flows upstream from the sea and occurs on approximately 130 days of the year.

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The river's course takes it through Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, passing through towns and villages steeped in history and rich in historical and cultural heritage.

South of Worcester at the old town of Tewkesbury, the River Avon meets the River Severn before flowing on to the cathedral city and inland port of Gloucester.

The lower part of the River Severn offers good barbel, bream and zander fishing.

From Gloucester the river takes a southwesterly direction, becoming tidal, and meanders its way through Berkeley and the little village of Aust before flattening completely and fanning out to become the Severn Estuary, which extends to a width of 5 miles. Here the river empties into the Bristol Channel which flows into the Celtic Sea, thus ending its journey.

Free fishing on the River Severn

As the River Severn is the longest river in the UK there are numerous free fishing stretches along its banks. Remember, you will need to hold a valid "Environment Agency Rod Licence".

The free fishing stretches include:

  • Llanidloes, Powys, Wales
    • This picturesque stretch is run by the Environment Agency Llanidloes Fishery and holds chub, dace, grayling and brown trout. Fishing is on the right-hand bank downstream of the sewage works and runs for just under a kilometre.
  • Newtown in Powys, Wales (Newtown Fishery)
    • This stretch offers free fishing on both banks, provided by the Environment Agency Newtown Fishery, it offers decent game fishing with a good head of both brown trout and salmon. There are also some nice size chub, dace and the occasional pike. The stretches run downstream of the footbridge near the municipal car park, with 50 metres on the right-hand bank (south side) and 200 metres on the left-hand bank (north side).
  • Newtown in Powys, Wales (Penarth Fishery)
    • Operated by the Environment Agency Penarth Fishery, this free stretch offers just over half a kilometre of free sport running downstream of the sewage works. The usual upper-severn suspects can be found in this stretch, including sizeable chub and of course some decent brown trout.
  • Melverley, Shropshire, England
    • This stretch is run by the Environment Agency, it runs for 500 yards (455 metres) on the bend of the river from the left bank. Night fishing is prohibited. Species present include chub, dace, the occasional barbel and salmon.
  • Coalport near Ironbridge, Shropshire, England
    • The Environment Agency Ironbridge Fishery runs for around 600 yards (550 metres) upstream from the foot bridge. This stretch offers some excellent barbel fishing and holds a good head of chub.
  • Ironbridge, Shropshire, England
    • This stretch is in the main town of Ironbridge and runs for just under 450 yards (400 metres). Fishing is on the left bank starting upstream of the Iron Bridge and continues to the Wharf. The stretch holds barbel and chub.

If you know of any free stretches on this river please let us know.

Species of fish found in the River Severn include:

Fishing Clubs & Societies with fishing rights on the River Severn

River Severn Counties & Tributaries

  • Flows through counties:
    • Powys
    • Shropshire
    • Worcestershire
    • Gloucestershire
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