The annual World Rivers Day falls on the last Sunday of every September, it’s a great way to highlight the values of our rivers and create awareness of the threats that they face. Britain’s rivers have been integral in the growth of our towns and cities, they provide fresh water for drinking, they provide travel links, rich habitats for wildlife, and keep our businesses running and our farms thriving. By working together, we can ensure that the health of our rivers is improved, for more useful information you can take a look at the World Rivers Day website. To celebrate, we thought we would get to know Britain’s rivers with 5 fun facts about our waterways in this week’s blog post.
Britain’s longest river is…
Did you know that the longest river in Britain is 220 miles long?! The River Severn’s source is 2001 feet high in Plynlimon, Wales and flows down towards Bristol, ending at the Severn Estuary, ultimately flowing in to the Bristol channel – it is 220 miles long in total making it the largest river in Britain. It is home to many varieties of wildlife, notably the endangered 5 spotted Ladybird, which can be found on the lower estuary flats.
The River Thames is home to a few different types of marine life!
In fact, there have been a total of 366 marine mammals spotted in The River Thames this year (2018). Including harbour seals, grey seals, harbour porpoises and dolphins. In 2006, there was even a northern bottlenose whale spotted in London which was 5 metres long and weighed around seven tonnes! ZSL has been collecting public sightings of these marine mammals since 2004 and you might even see them yourself as they’re frequently sighted all the way up to Richmond. Take a look at where they’ve been spotted on the ZSL public sightings map.
We have more chalk rivers than any other country in the world
Chalk streams are waterways that run through chalk hills located towards the sea. The chalk in the streams act as a filtering effect and as a result, the waters are alkaline and clear. There are only 200 chalk rivers known globally, 170 of which are found in the UK in Southern and Eastern England. Some of these include the rivers Itchen and Avon in Wessex and the River Wensum in Norfolk- they’re world famous for their trout and salmon fishing!
The River Tyne was used to export coal
During the 13th Century up until the 20th Century, the River Tyne was used as a passing through to export coal. Although the river is no longer used for this purpose, there are still some of the original structures that were used to load coal onto ships.
The River Dee Valley is home to the longest aqueduct
An Aqueduct is a bridge for water to pass through across gaps such as valleys or ravines, they’re a great transport link for boats and ships too. The longest aqueduct in Britain is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal which crosses the border between England and Wales – feeling adventurous? Many spend the day canoeing across it! The Aqueduct is an impressive 307 miles long and crosses right over the River Dee Valley.