Monday, 17 August 2009

Northumberland Rivers

The River Tyne is a river in northeast England. It is formed by the confluence of two rivers: the North Tyne and the South Tyne. These two rivers converge at Warden Rock near Hexham in Northumberland at a place dubbed 'The Meeting of the Waters'.

The Meeting of the two rivers 1 mile from Hexham

The North Tyne rises on the Scottish border, north of Kielder Water. It flows through Kielder Forest, and passes through the village of Bellingham before reaching Hexham.

Kielder Dam

Kielder Forest and reservoir, looking north-east from Yarrow
The South Tyne rises on Alston Moor, Cumbria and flows through the towns of Haltwhistle and Haydon Bridge, in a valley often called the Tyne Gap.

Alston Moor Village


Hadrian's Wall lies to the North of the Tyne Gap. Coincidentally the source of the South Tyne is very close to the sources of the other two great rivers of the industrial north east namely the Tees and the Wear. The South Tyne Valley falls within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - the second largest of the 40 AONBs in England and Wales.

The combined Tyne flows from Hexham, the area where the rivers now thriving barbel stocks were first introduced in the mid 1980's, through Corbridge in Northumberland. It enters the county of Tyne and Wear between Clara Vale (on the South bank) and Tyne Riverside Country Park (on the North bank) and continues to divide Newcastle and the Borough of Gateshead for 13 miles (21 km), in the course of which it is spanned by 10 bridges. To the East of Gateshead and Newcastle, the Tyne divides Hebburn and Jarrow on the South bank from Walker and Wallsend on the North bank.
Walker Park.
Walker is a residential suburb and electoral ward just east of the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Walker's name is a hybrid of Old English and Viking Norse, "Wall-kjerr", where "kjerr" is Norse for "marshy woodland". The name therefore means "marshy woodland by the wall", where the wall in question is of course Hadrian's Wall.

Jarrow and Wallsend are linked underneath the river by the Tyne Tunnel.

Tyne Bridge

Finally it flows between South Shields and North Shields into the North Sea.

South Shield painted by Turner

Map showing course of the River Tyne

As it passes through the Tyneside conurbation, the river marks the historic border between County Durham (to the south) and Northumberland (to the north).
With its proximity to surrounding coalfields, the Tyne was a major route for the export of coal from the 13th century until the decline of the coal mining industry in North East England in the second half of the 20th century. The largest coal staithes were located at Dunston, Gateshead Hebburn and Tyne Dock, South Shields. The dramatic wooden staithes (a structure for loading coal onto ships) at Dunston, built in 1890, have been preserved, although they were partially destroyed by fire in 2006. And to this day in 2008 Tyne Dock, South Shields is still involved with coal, importing 2 million tonnes of shipments a year.

Fish Quay, looking towards the River Tynes Mouth

The lower reaches of the Tyne were, in the late 19th and early 20th century, one of the world's most important centres of shipbuilding, and there are still shipyards in South Shields and Hebburn to the south of the river.
To support the shipbuilding and export industries of Tyneside, the lower reaches of the river were extensively remodelled during the second half of the 19th century, with islands removed and meanders in the river straightened.


Nothing definite is known of the origin of the designation "Tyne", nor is the river known by that name until the Saxon period: Tynemouth is recorded in Anglo-Saxon as Tinanmuðe (probably dative case). There is a theory that Tīn was a word that meant "river" in the local Celtic language or in a language spoken in England before the Celts came: compare Tardebigge.
The River Vedra on the Roman map of Britain may be the Tyne, or may be the River Wear. The late Thomas John Taylor supposed that the main course of the river anciently flowed through what is now Team Valley, its outlet into the tidal river being by a waterfall at Bill Point. His theory is not far from the truth, as there is evidence that prior to the last Ice Age, the River Wear did once follow the current route of the lower River Team, merging with the Tyne at Dunston. Ice diverted the course of the Wear to its current location, flowing east from Washington (virtually parallel to the course of the Tyne) and joining the North Sea at Sunderland

The River Glen in Northumberland, England is a tributary of the River Till. The College Burn and Bowmont Water, both flowing out of the Cheviot Hills, meet near Kirknewton to form the River Glen. The Glen flows past the small settlements of Yeavering, Lanton, Coupland, Akeld and Ewart, before joining the Till.

Map of the River Glen


The area around the Glen is rich in historical and archaeological interest. Iron Age hilltop forts on peaks to the south of the river overlook the Anglian settlement and palace site at Yeavering, where St. Paulinus baptised new converts and, according to Bede, "washed them with the water of absolution in the river Glen, which is close by" (Tomlinson, 1888, p. 504).
Because there is a reference to a similarly named river in Historia Brittonum by the Welsh author Nennius, some (Ekwal, 1928; Hunt, 2005) have hypothesized that the legendary British warrior Arthur began his campaign against Anglo-Saxon invaders near the confluence of the Glen and Till:
Then it was, that Arthur, with all the kings and military force of Britain, fought against the Saxons. And though there were many more noble than himself, yet he was twelve times chosen their commander, and was as often conqueror. The first battle in which he was engaged, was at the mouth of the river Glein. The area around the Glen was the setting for some of the bloodiest border warfare between Scotland and England. The Battle of Humbleton Hill was fought near the river in 1402, as was the Battle of Geteryne (Yeavering) in 1415

The River Tweed (Scottish Gaelic: Abhainn Thuaidh) is 97 miles (156 km) long and flows primarily through the Borders region of England and Scotland.

Map showing the River Tweeds course through Scotland and England

Map showing the River tweeds Tributaries

It rises on Tweedsmuir at Tweed's Well near where the Clyde, draining northwest, and the Annan draining south also rise. "Annan, Tweed and Clyde rise oot the ae hillside" as the Border saying has it. It drains the entire Borders region. Its lower reaches mark the Scottish border with England for 27 kilometres (17 mi) near Berwick-upon-Tweed. The Tweed is one of the great salmon rivers of Great Britain.

Berwick -upon-Tweed

Major towns through which the Tweed flows include Peebles, Galashiels, Melrose, Kelso, Coldstream and Berwick-upon-Tweed, where it flows into the North Sea.

River Tweed at Coldstream

The Tweed valley is also a very interesting area when it comes to looking at the glacial history of Britain. The valley floor on which the river currently flows is a drumlin field and is the relic of a paleo ice stream that flowed through the area during the last glaciation.
River Tweed is the only river in England where an Environment Agency rod licence is not required for angling.

The River Wansbeck runs through the county of Northumberland, England. It rises above Sweethope Lough on the edge of Forelaws Forest in the area known locally as The Wanneys (Great Wanney Crag, Little Wanney Crag; thus the "Wanneys Beck"); runs through the town of Ashington before discharging into the North Sea at Sandy Bay near Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.
The River flows through the village of Kirkwhelpington, the town of Morpeth, and the village of Mitford, where it is joined by a small tributary, the River Font.
The River Wansbeck is nicknamed the River Wanney. The term 'The Wilds of Wanney' is used by people of Tyneside to refer to the rural areas of Northumberland where the Wansbeck rises.
The River lent its name to the former Wansbeck district which was based in Ashington, and included Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Bedlington and Stakeford.

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