Severn Bore, England

     On August 8th, 2016; I attempted to catch the Severn Bore in England.  The Severn bore is a large surge wave which is seen in the estuary of the River Severn and is considered as one of Britain’s truly natural phenomena.  This is all due to the shape of the Severn estuary, which means that the water funnels into an ever decreasing narrow channel.  The estuary narrows from being 8 km wide in Avonmouth to just 1.6 km wide in nearby Lydney and by the time the estuary reaches the Gloucestershire village of Minsterworth on the north bank of the River Severn, it is less 100 meters wide!

The Severn Bore area map
Severn Bore area map

     Bimonthly, the River Severn located in Gloucestershire, is the focus of a truly spectacular natural phenomenon—a surge wave called the Severn Bore. This can appear as a glassy swell, a monstrous, breaking wave. It tears upstream, against the natural current, at speeds of up to 20 km/hr.

At the narrowest part on the Severn River, waiting for the Bore

     The time to be selected is about twenty-four hours after new or full moon; the largest spring tides should be chosen, if possible, and an occasion when the light permits both evening and morning bore to be seen. They occur at about 7.30 to 9 o’clock, a.m. and p.m. The visits should therefore be either when the days are long or at full moon.

The Bore on the River Severn

     Twice a year, it particularly transforms the peaceful river into an inland surf zone, and dozens of surfers compete to see who can ride it the farthest. As the tide rises, it meets hard-rocked river banks. These restrict the movement of the water and this, combined with the ridges of the river bed, holds up the water and stops it from flowing forward. A wall of water then starts to form that is eventually funneled into the Severn estuary. As the River Severn gets shallower and narrower, the wall of water gathers speed and becomes much larger, forming a large wave or bore.  I was not there at the height of the bore. 

The Severn Bore at one of it’s least dramatic times.

     The largest bores occur one to three days after a new or full moon, and the most impressive ones are during the spring tides. This is considered to be the 2nd largest bore wave in the World.

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