Monday, 13 July 2009

Somerset Rivers 3

The River Axe is a river in south west England. The river rises from the ground at Wookey Hole Caves in the Mendip Hills in Somerset, and runs through a V-shaped valley. The geology of the area is limestone and the water proceeds down to Wookey Hole in a series of underground channels that have eroded through the soluble limestone.
The river was navigable from the middle ages until 1915, and used for international trade.

From Wookey Hole village the river flows through a ravine and then west through the village of Wookey. At Wookey the River splits into two channels with the ‘Lower River Axe’ running past to the south of the village west towards Henton and then onto Panborough Moor where it joins a series of rhynes and drains supplying water to the wetland in the area. The Lower River Axe then runs north along the west most edge of Knowle Moor whilst the River Axe continues west through the same moor. The two channels meet again on the boundary between Knowle and Panborough Moors.
The river continues northwest past Wedmore Moor and through Oxmoor, Stoke Moor and Monk Moor. The river passes through the settlement of Lower Weare and on to the south of Loxton. From this point until it passes between Uphill Cliff and Brean Down, then reaches the coast at Weston Bay, the river forms the northern boundary of the county.
Tributaries of the Axe include three rivers called Yeo: the Cheddar Yeo, the Mark Yeo and the Lox Yeo. The river is a great spot for pike fishing.

Brean Down

The lower reaches of the Axe have a history of navigation from the harbour at Uphill through to the settlement of Weare. The current tidal limit of the Axe is the sluice gates at Bleadon and Brean Cross.
In the Middle Ages overseas trade was carried out from the port of Rackley, which is now north of the river as the course has been diverted. Rackley is now a farm below Crook Peak and west of Axbridge, which also had wharves. In the 14th century a French ship sailed up the river and by 1388 Thomas Tanner from Wells used Rackley to export cloth and corn to Portugal, and received iron and salt in exchange. Later slate was imported through this route and it may have still be possible to trade through Rackley until the act of 1915 authorising the drainage of the Axe and installation of the flood gate at Bleadon. Bleadon had been a small port, sometimes known as Lympsham Wharf, for many years, with the arrival of the railway in 1841 making this the furthest navigable point. It was last used by the ketch Democrat in 1942.
A series of 11 Watermills were powered by the river but the only one which remains is at Burcott.

The River Barle runs from the Chains on northern Exmoor, in Somerset, England to join the River Exe at Exebridge, Devon. The river and the Barle Valley are both designated as biological Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The river passes under a late medieval six arch stone Landacre Bridge in Withypool, and the Tarr Steps a prehistoric clapper bridge possibly dating from 1000 BC. The stone slabs weigh up to 5 tons apiece. According to local legend, they were placed by the devil to win a bet.

The bridge is 180 feet (55 m) long and has 17 spans. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.

Withypool Bridge

The river flows through the Somerset Wildlife Trust's Mounsey Wood Nature Reserve and Knaplock and North Barton SSSI notified in 1954. The site is within Exmoor National Park.
The Barle Valley contains extensive tracts of ancient upland Sessile Oak ancient woodland which exhibit variations in structure and species composition as a result of difference in past management, geology and topography. The diversity of the site is increased substantially by areas of valley mire, heathland and acid grassland. Eighty five woodland vascular plant species have been recorded including thirty one ancient woodland indicators from a single compartment. The meadows are one of the few sites for Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) on Exmoor.

River Barle at Simonsbath

Springs emerging from the base of sandstone slopes generate nutrient poor acid mires dominated by Sphagnum and Polytrichum moss carpets. The lichen flora is exceptional both for its luxuriance and in the number of rare species. One hundred and sixty five taxa of epiphytic lichens are present containing a remarkably large proportion of ancient woodland indicators giving the Barle a very high index of ecological continuity. The site contains an outstanding assemblage of woodland breeding birds including particularly high densities of Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix), Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) and Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca). The River Barle provides an important habitat for Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) and Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), while scrub and heath have breeding Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) and Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra). Twenty species of butterfly have been recorded in the valley including the nationally scarce Marsh Fritillary (Eurodryas aurinia) and nationally vulnerable High Brown Fritillary (Argynnis adippe). Both Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) and Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) graze areas of wood pasture. The presence of Otters (Lutra lutra) on the Barle has been regularly recorded. A colony of Dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) inhabits at least one of the Hazel coppices

The Cam brook is a small river in Somerset, England.

Cam Brook at Combe Hay Weir

It rises near Hinton Blewitt, flows through Cameley, Temple Cloud, Camerton, Dunkerton and Combe Hay. It then joins the Wellow Brook at Midford to form Midford Brook before joining the River Avon close to the Dundas Aqueduct.

Dundas Acqueduct

Along its length are the remains of the Somerset Coal Canal which originally took its water from Cam brook, and serviced the Somerset coalfield(In Rivers 4 at Canals).

Dundas Canal with boats

The valley sides are rounded and undulating through erosion. There are several springs dotted along the valley sides and the resultant streams are often lined with trees. The junction of the valley sides with the base is usually gentle and rounded and the valley floors are narrow but flat with the brooks meandering freely across their flood plain. The brook is quite deep in places and frequently has steep sides.
Much of the Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbolt was shot in the valley on the Camerton branch line, which began nearby, and the cricket scene was filmed near the viaduct hotel at Limpley Stoke.

The River Cary is a river in Somerset, England. The River Cary has its source at Park Pond in Castle Cary, and then flows southwest through Cary Moor to Babcary, where there is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest at Babcary Meadows and Cary Fitzpaine. It then flows northwest through Charlton Mackrell to the north of Somerton. Here the river channel has been straightened and drains the surrounding wetland as it heads north to Kings Sedge Moor. The Cary passes through King's Sedgemoor continuing west across the moors south of the Polden Hills. At Henley it joins the artificial channels of the Sutton Moor Rhyne and the King's Sedgemoor Drain, both of which drain the wetland. Much of the water is now diverted into King's Sedgemoor Drain, which continues across the moors to join the estuary of the River Parrett at Dunball.
In 1995 a major pollution incident occurred when lindane and mercury seed dressing were poured down a drain which leads into the river near Somerton.
The river was the site of a study to examine the use of strategically placed floodplain woodland to alleviate downstream flooding

The River Chew is a small river in England. It merges with the River Avon after 17 miles (27 km) forming the Chew Valley.
The spring from which the Chew rises is just upstream from Chewton Mendip. The river flows North West from Chewton Mendip through Litton, Chew Valley Lake, Chew Stoke, Chew Magna and Stanton Drew. The river passes under the A37 at Pensford almost making the old church and pub garden into an island. The river then flows through the villages of Publow, Woollard, Compton Dando and Chewton Keynsham before joining the River Avon at Keynsham. For much of the Chew's route the Two Rivers Way footpath is alongside, the same route for part of its length is also part of the Monarch's Way long distance footpath. In total the Chew flows for some 17 miles (27 km) through the North Somerset countryside.

Chew Valley Map

The name 'Chew'
The name 'Chew' has Celtic origins, but its exact meaning isn't certain, however there have been several explanations, including "winding water", the EW being a variant of the French EAU meaning water. The word CHEWER is a western dialect for a narrow passage and CHARE is Old English for turning. Many believe that the name CHEW began in Normandy as CHEUX, and came to England with the Norman Conquest during the 11th century.
However, some people agree with Ekwall’s interpretation that it is derived from the Welsh "cyw" meaning "the young of an animal, or chicken", so that "afon Cyw" would have been "the river of the chickens".

Pensford Bridge crossing the river Chew

Other possible explanations suggest it comes from the Old English word cēo ‘fish gill’, used in the transferred sense of a ravine, in a similar way to Old Norse gil, or possibly a derogatory nickname from Middle English chowe ‘chough’, Old English cēo, a bird closely related to the crow and the jackdaw, notorious for its chattering and thieving. According to Robinson it is named after the Viking war god Tiw.
Roman use"Pigs" (ingots) of lead from the Charterhouse Roman Town on the Mendips were brought to the river to be transported to Sea Mills on the Avon for transshipment overseas.

The East Lyn is a river which rises high in Exmoor, Somerset


The Lynmouth Disaster occurred on the East Lyn river.


The river starts as the Upper East Lyn at Malmsmead (formed by two minor tributaries, the Oare Water and Badgeworthy Water) it then flows for several miles, past Brendon and makes confluence with Hoar Oak Water at Watersmeet, where Watersmeet House is located. Continuing on, the river is squeezed between a narrow gorge section, upon exit follows on for another 2.5 miles (4 kilometres) until the river meets with the West Lyn River and flows into the Bristol Channel at Lynmouth

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