Canoe touring on the River Severn
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The itinerary from Pool Quay to Stourport - mileages, weirs, islands, bridges, camping, youth hostels, pubs, access, contact details and general observations.  If Ive got it wrong email me here.   

For those canoeists who just cant stomach free-market environmentalism, Ive italicised the iGreen comments!  Have a great trip.   See also Privateers on the Wye  

Larkin link: From December 1943 to September 1946, Philip Larkin lived in Wellington (nw engulfed in Telford), six miles north of Ironbridge.  Here he met Ruth Bowman, completed his first novel "Jill", and wrote the poetry collection "The North Ship" and his second novel "A Girl in Winter".  He lived first at Glentworth, King Street, later at 7 Ladycroft, and worked at the Public Library on Walker street.  His employer was Wellington Urban District Council, for which the councillors must be forgiven much.  Click here to read The North Ship - the poem, not the whole collection. 

Access and fishing:  The Severn is a public navigation below Pool Quay. You need a British Waterways licence below Stourport.   The fishing seasons are as follows:

Salmon - 1st Feb to 7th Oct

Trout - 18 March to 7th Oct

Coarse - 16 June to 14 March

 

0 miles; Pool Quay

Launch right above the farm bridge.   This used to be the highest navigable point on the Severn. Tight bends between high banks for the next 12 miles or so.

 

8.25 miles; Llandrinio Bridge built 1775

Land left above the bridge.  Camping.   Mr. Nixon, Haimwood, Llandrinio Powys. Tel 01691 830764

Take centre arch.

 

12 miles; River Vyrnwy joins left

Up till now the river has been in Wales.  For the next 1.5 miles it forms the border with England and then lies entirely in England.  

Paddle mile up the Vrynwy into Melverly for a pub, the Tontine Arms.

 

12.25 miles; Crewgreen Bridge. 

Originally a railway bridge it now carries the road to Melverley.

 

14.75 miles; The Royal Hill Inn

Land left.   Small caravan park behind the pub but canoeists usually camp in the field between the road and the river.   Ruby, who ran the pub for many years, died in 2000.   Her cousin Barbara now runs it.   It is still a wonderful canoe friendly pub.   Tel 01743 741242.  

 

The Upper Severn canoe rally (open canoes) stops here every year.   In 2002 it will be 11 May.   Contact Drummond Outdoor for details.  

 

16-17.5 miles; MoD firing range left

No obvious landmarks but keep away.   Wildlife loves firing ranges :)

  Time for a poem.  Click here for Herons by UA Fanthorpe

18.25 miles; Old railway bridge now dismantled. 

 

18.75 miles; Shrawardine village left just after righ hand bend. 

Site of old ferry. Ferry cottage left.  

Land left for access to village.  The track from the village is labelled Ferry cottage but is public right of way.  Ferry cottage owners are very friendly to canoeists.  

 

22.25 miles; Montford bypass bridge A5

Picnic site toilets and car park.   Mainly intended for drivers on the A5 but access is possible from right bank below the bypass bridge.

 

22.5 miles; Montford bridge

Built in 1792 by Thomas Telford.   Either land right above bridge and camp in pub grounds (previously Wingfield Arms, now 2005 Old Swan). Tel 01743 850750   Super canoeist site.  

Or land left below bridge and use the Severn House campsite. Tel 01743 850229. 

 

23.5 miles Montford island

Pass either side.   Main channel left.

 

23.75 miles; Bromley Forge.  River Perry joins left

Bickley Coppice scout camp right

Time for another poem.  Click here to read A Walk by the River with my Daughter by David Holbrook

25 miles; Isle Grange

The river makes a 4.5-mile loop around The Isle ending less than 0.5 miles from where it started.   But dont try a short cut!    Its a lovely loop of river and theres no access either side of Isle Grange.

 

31.5 miles; Shelton water works right

Severn Trent is extracting water here.   I know we've all got to drink and wash but when are they going to stop giving it away to private customers free.  Meter it and charge.  We need water in the river too!

32.25 miles; Shopshire and West Midlands Show ground left

Coton Hill public slipway left.   Access.

 

Launching ramp right 50 yards before Frankwell footbridge bridge.  Access via council car park

Shrewsbury (a thirteen-bridge town)

34 miles; Frankwell footbridge 1979

Shrewsbury frankwell footbridge.jpg (27978 bytes)

   

Launching ramp just after the footbridge on right - Shrewsbury Marina Services.

34.25 miles; Welsh bridge built 1795.   

english_bridge_shrewsbury2.jpg (261969 bytes)

There had been a toll bridge on this site as long ago as 1262

Land on pontoons left immediately after the Welsh bridge for access to Victoria Quay.  Public landing provided by the council.  The day i visited the gate at the top was locked!  

 

34.75 miles; Port Hill footbridge.  Built in 1922 by the Shropshire Horticultural Society and the residents of Port Hill to replace a ferry. 

porthill footbridge shrewsbury.jpg (31864 bytes)

The Boat House Inn right

View from the bridge

from porthill footbridge.jpg (265176 bytes)

Percy Thrower, the television and radio gardener, was superintendent of the parks and gardens on the left from 1946-1973.

 

Pengwern rowing club right.

Shrewsbury Boat club right 

Shrewsbury school on the hill on the right.  Charles Darwin and Michael Palin were pupils.


35 miles; Kingsland Toll Bridge built 1881   

kingsland toll bridge.jpg (38055 bytes)

Site of old ferry. Cars 10 each way.  Pedestrians: 1p.  Hooray!  Pedestrians free in 2005.  Bridge approach is now largely used for parking (50p/hour).  

Can anyone explain why we normally get charged to park on the public highway but not to drive on it?

The Crown Inn right with landing stage.  50 yards before the next bridge

 

35.25 miles; Greyfriars footbridge built 1879

greyfriars footbridge shrewsbury.jpg (28165 bytes)

Rea brook joins right.  It is said that the brook can sometimes be paddled up to The Woodlands Youth hostel, Abbey Foregate. Shrewsbury.  Tel 01743 360179.  Access to brook from council car park.

But in 2005 I could  only get about 100 yards up stream. 

 

35.5 miles; English bridge

english_bridge_shrewsbury.jpg (106786 bytes)     

Built 1774 but completely rebuilt to lower the steep gradient in 1927.

   

Castle left

35.75 miles; Shrewsbury railway station bridge

Made up of three bridges.  The middle, a beautiful brick arch, is completely obscured by the adjacent steel bridges.  I presume the two ugly ones were built by British Rail.  All three bridges now form part of Shrewsbury station.  

  

36 miles; Castle walk footbridge

 

36 miles; Shrewsbury weir.

Portage left.   Camping difficult at the weir but land left 500 yards below the weir for Castle Fields common land.    Discrete camping possible.

 

36.5 miles; Holywell or Goffs Island

Pass left

 

36.75 miles; Telford Way Bridge

 

38miles; Pimley Island left

 

38.25 miles; Shrewsbury Bypass Bridge 1

 

38.75 miles; Uffington.

The Corbet Arms Inn left but no access.

Shallow water.  

 

39 miles; Shrewsbury Bypass Bridge 2

 

39.75 miles; Belvedere Railway Bridge

Shallow water

 

41.25 miles; Shrewsbury Bypass Bridge 3

 

41.5 miles; Emstry island pass left

 

43 miles; Chiltern island pass left

 

43.25 miles; Atcham New Bridge built 1929

Mock stone concrete.    Land left above the bridge.  Mytton and Mermaid Inn left.

 

43.25 miles Atcham Bridge 

Built 1776 by John Gwynne who also built two other bridges over the Severn, the English Bridge in Shrewsbury and the Worcester bridge, as well as Magdalen bridge in Oxford.   Beautiful looking but with stone piers on timber piles it became unsafe in 1924.  It is now preserved as a national monument.   Used as footbridge only.

 

45.75 miles; River Tern joins left.

 

46.5 miles;  Wroxeter island pass right  

Land left just past the island for the Roman town of Viroconium.  Watling Street crossed the river here, the lowest point at which the river was fordable.  There are large stones visible in the river bed a low levels and some believe these were the piles of a wooden bridge.  Visit Wroxeter Roman Vineyard Tel 01743 761888 or click here.

48 miles; Cound brook joins right

Island pass right. Sandstone cliff left

 

48.75 miles; The Chomondely Arms Hotel in Coundlane

Magnificently sited with views up a mile long reach of river.  The landlord is happy to allow access and egress for patrons.    Land right at the foot of the pub gardens.

Island just below.

 

51 miles; Cressage Bridge

Landing possible left above the bridge.  Permission needed.

The Eagles Inn 0.5 mile

 

The next stretch to Buildwas, consists of wide meanders through the flood plain with the river flowing over a sandy bed. Lovely.  

Buildwas Park on the hillside on the right bank one mile before Buildwas bridge was believed by Richard Usborne to be the real location of PG Wodehouse's Blandings Castle.  Others disagree.  See note below on Apley Hall, and this.

56 miles; Buildwas bridge built 1992

Buildwas1992.jpg (90114 bytes)

Caravan site marked on right bank below the bridge on 1981 OS Sheet 127 but Ive not checked it out.

There has been a bridge on this site since medieval times.  The first built by monks from the nearby abbey.   In the five miles from here to Coalport, eight bridges span the river as it flows through Ironbridge gorge.  

 

56.5 miles; Ironbridge A road bridge 1932

Originally providing road access to the old power station, it is now closed and only carries pipes.  Click here for a picture.

 

57 miles; Ironbridge B road bridge 1963

Concrete bridge providing road access to the Ironbridge B power station.  

Nov 2003 update.  This power station may be closing soon.  click here.   Dec 2004 update from Lumpinlump@aol.com.  'It has not closed yet.  It looks wonderful from our house especially when floodlit.  The steam/smoke never seems to come our way and we do like the convenience of electric power.  I suppose  we are "PIMBYS".'    

57.25 miles; Albert Edward bridge built 1864

Railway bridge carrying coal to Ironbridge B

Francis Oldroyd writes, 4 March 2003; "... we have camped next to the Rowing Club in the park below Albert Edward bridge."

57.75 Car park and canoe ramp left.

The river enters Ironbridge gorge

 

58.25 miles; Iron Bridge 1779

IronBridge2.jpg (659072 bytes)    ironbridge tolls2.jpg (38133 bytes)

The worlds first great cast-iron bridge.   Cast at Coalbrookdale in 1779 by Abraham Darby III.   Opened as a toll bridge in 1781.   Tolls ended in 1950 whereupon it feel into disrepair.  It was restored in 1979 and is now only a footbridge.

Town and shops left.  

Youth Hostel: Paradise, Coalbrookdale. Telford. Tel 01952 433281

Islands. Pass left low water. 

 

58.75 miles; Jackfield free bridge built 1994

jackfield free bridge.jpg (30341 bytes)     jackfield free bridge2.jpg (36464 bytes)

An asymmetric cable stay from a 30-metre steel tower on the right bank.  

The old Jackfield free bridge was built in 1909 by local subscription to avoid tolls on the Iron bridge and Coalport bridge.    It gave trouble in the 1930s and required repeated repairs until in 1993 beyond repair it was knocked down and replaced with the present bridge.   I wonder if the Iron and Coalport bridges of 1779 and 1818 outlasted it because someone had a financial interest in keeping them repaired!

 

The new Jackfield free bridge is a striking structure.  The tight road bends at each end  discourage heavy traffic intentionally .

59 miles; Jackfield Rapids

Land left to inspect.

These used to be grade 2, but following bank stabilisation work on the south bank in 2001 has become more difficult.  Now grade 3 or 4 in some levels. There is now a stopper and a difficult wave train for the less experienced.   Land left just below the rapids to dry out.  This is also the landing point for the Telford canoe club campsite. Adrian Reynolds, Secretary, Telford Canoe Club, 68 Court Street, Madeley, Telford, Shropshire TF7 5EP.  Tel 01952 409622.   An excellent small site with basic facilities.

 

Telford canoe club are the riparian owners on this small stretch of river. J Fabulous. J Support them in any way you can.

59.75 miles War memorial footbridge 1922

Land right below the bridge for the pub.   Theres a campsite marked on the right bank on the 1981 OS map but I've never seen anyone camp there.   

 

Francis Oldroyd writes, 4 March 2003; "We did camp there one year over 10 years ago. The campsite was run by the council - very badly, with disgusting toilets. Also the tents had to
be pitched on a slope, and it's long way to carry your boats up to the site. So if it's still open I wouldn't recommend going there."    iGreen comment.  "Typical council site!"   

60.25 Coalport bridge 1818

No longer a toll bridge.  In 2001 closed to vehicles for repair but nothing much happening when we paddled past! 

Immediately below the bridge land right for the Woodbridge Inn.   The landlord allows free camping in the grounds for patrons.  An excellent site.   Hes very relaxed, but if you want to phone first 01952 882054

 

63.25 miles; Apley Park Bridge 1905

Footbridge

Apley Hall left, another possible inspiration for Blandings castle.  In 1896 when Wodehouse was 14, his parents moved to The Old House, Stableford, about 5 miles east of the river here.  He would have visited Apley Hall.  He later wrote in the preface to the first Blanding novel "my happiest days as a boy were spent near Bridgnorth."   Norman Murphy in "In Search of Blandings" (1981) argued that Weston Park on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border was the model, but two more recent Wodehouse students have argued for Apley.  Click here.   

 

iGreen note:

Apley Hall was one of the most beautiful private houses in England.  It then fell into council hands and was used as a state boarding school until 1987.   Click here to read about the school.  The council then had no use for it but, being a public body, did not get round to selling it to someone who did.  Instead they neglected it and despite (because of?) being a listed building it fell into disrepair.  In 1999 a private company "Apley Hall Restoration Ltd" brought the Hall and prepared plans to restore it.  They dealt with the leaking roof, aired the rooms, gave it a lick of paint and had a party and invited the neighbours.  Then guess what?  The council refused to approve the plans because the building was listed!   In March 2001 John Prescott refused the companys appeal.  Keep visiting.  iGreens are investigating and will have more to say on this.  

66 miles; River Worfe joins left

High rock left

67 miles; Severn Park

Slipway and parking left bank.

Followed by Bridgnorth rowing club steps left.

 

67.25 miles; Bridgnorth Bridge 1810

This bridge has been continuously rebuilt and developed since medieval times. 

Take right arch in low water.  

Bridgnorth Scouts have their HQ near the river and are keen canoeists; contact John Humphries on 01746 763628.  

Camp Site: The Old Vicarage. Tel. 01746 762301

67.25 miles; Bridgnorth bypass bridge 1985

69.5 miles; Quatford

The Danery Inn left.

71.75 miles; Mor brook joins right

Cast iron bridge over Mor brook carries the towpath.

72 miles; South Staffs Bridge 1965

A private bridge carrying water from Chelmarsh reservoir to waterworks.  Owned by South Staffordshire Water Plc.  

Come on guys.  Get metering!  Let's divert the flow from some of those dripping taps back into the river.  

72.25 miles; Hampton Loade

Passenger Ferry - current (2002) toll charges: Pedestrians: 50p each way

hamptonloadeferry.jpg (3611 bytes)

National Trust car park left.  The Lion Inn is an easy walk a few hundred yards downstream down a narrow road and set back from the river.   Unusual pub.   Good food but rather uptight management.  Difficult to explain.  Try it and tell me what you think.   Tell me also how you solved the problem of getting back to camp after the ferry stopped running.  

Feb 2005 update - The Lion Inn, sadly, closed a year or so ago. There is another pub about 300 yards upstream called the River and Rail, which I believe is Banks and is "OK". does food etc.  Thanks to Richard Lycett for this.

The Unicorn Inn and camping right.  Tel 01746 861515

A superb campsite.  No frills, cheap beer and a healthy disrespect for council red tape.

73 miles; Island.

Run either side. Right more interesting. Whirlpools in the breakout on R.

 

74.5 miles; Alveley Colliery bridge 1937

The colliery closed in 1969.  Look how well the slag heaps have healed!  

The bridge is now used only as a footbridge.

 

75 miles; Highley.

Access right bank by the Inn.   Camping upstream of buildings on right bank.

 

76 miles; Borle brook joins right.

 

76.25 Shallows and small rapid.

Pass left of small island

 

77.75 miles; Upper Arley footbridge 1971

Quay left, and slipway right.  Both above the footbridge.

Inn and Arley station on the right.    The Severn Valley Railway appeared recently as the Hogwart Express in the Harry Potter films. 

severn arley.jpg (27040 bytes)

78.5 miles; Victoria bridge Upper Arley 1861

victoriabridge_.jpg (18534 bytes)

When built this was the largest cast iron bridge ever constructed, twice as long as the iron bridge. 

It still carries the Severn Valley Railway.   The Wyre forest is on the right.

Shingle bank 100 yards below bridge.  Pass on left.

79.25 miles;  Eymore rapid.

Island.  Pass left taking channel down main chute of rapid.  (You can pole up the backwater and run the drop as many times as you like. Paddling up is harder but possible, and tracking up with lines can also be done - mind the nettles!)

200 yards below the island is a rock ledge with a break on the right hand side.  (This can also be jumped going back upstream with a pole, so you can run this a few times too.)  

Eymore is the last natural rapid on the river.  The rest have been flooded by weirs.

Severn pipe bridge 1900. Trimpley

Carrying water from the Elan Valley to Birmingham.  

Think of all those Brummie garden hoses and car washing.  The river needs the water too, so lets make them pay.  Turn off those taps.  

Access immediately after bridge on the left.  Steps to small car park at the end of Rag Lane.

Railway bridge dismantled  

Dowles brook joins right immediately after

81.5 miles; Bewdley bridge 1801

Bewdley bridge2.jpg (31260 bytes)

Designed by Thomas Telford.  Originally a toll bridge the toll house was removed in the 1960s.  :(

Rowing club left above bridge.

Land right above and below bridge.   Also land left below bridge.   Pay and display car park is on right 200 yards above the bridge. 

Wyre forest canoe club left below bridge  

Bewdley bypass bridge 1987

Island under bridge. Channel left

Gladder brook enters right and marks head of navigation.  Below this licence required from British waterways Llanothy warehouse, Gloucester Docks, GL1 2EJ Tel 01452 318000.  Also from lock keepers.

River deepens and powerboats appear. 

 

85.5 Stourport bridge 1870

Canal basin left below bridge.  Junction with Staffs and Worcester canal and River Stour left

 

86 miles - Redstone Rock left

  restonerock2.jpg (92134 bytes)

87 miles; Lincombe lock

The highest lock on the river.  Tel 012 993 2887

 

This is where I, and most other canoeists, stop.   Who wants to paddle amongst the power boaters, as they drive up and down the canalised river?   If you do go on down ponder the thought that some people want to build weirs on the higher stretches.   They say it will benefit the river by raising water levels in summer.   I say it would be environmental vandalism, and is driven by the desire of the power boaters to go higher.   Read more here, and here, and here.   Vote here.

   

88 miles - The Hampstall Inn left

91.1 miles - Holt lock

There is camping at Holt lock

 

91.25 miles; Holt bridge 1828

HoltFleetBridge.jpg (278543 bytes)

The last toll bridge in Worcestershire.  Tolls ceased in 1900.  L

94.75 miles; Bevere island bridge 1844, and Bevere lock

Beverebridge.jpg (57733 bytes)    BevereRoad.jpg (54155 bytes)

A private bridge linking Bevere to the island J

98.25 miles; Worcester  

 

99.25 miles - Diglis lock

The Worcester and Birmingham canal leaves the river left from Diglis basin just above the lock.

 

100 miles - River Teme joins right

Site of the battle of Worcester in 1651

 

109.25 miles A4104 bridge

Upton-upon-Severn right.  The highest spring tides occasionally reach this far.  

 

115 miles; Mythe bridge 1826  

MytheBridge.jpg (385217 bytes)

Designed by Thomas Telford at the same time as he was building the Menai Straights suspension bridge.    He said I reckon this the most handsomest bridge which has been built under my direction. 

 Originally a toll bridge, the tolls did not prove adequate and in 1850 all debts had to be written off.  L

 

And dont forget the Severn M4 Suspension Bridge.  

While the environmental damage from this government-built motorway is incalculable, at least the long suffering taxpayer was not forced to pay for all of it.   It is a Toll bridge, so the polluting cars and lorries pay something towards the damage they cause.  J

September 2005 update.  Bob Dylan crossed the river Severn by the old Aust ferry during his famous 1966 "Judas" tour.  Cick here for the pictures.

Acknowledgements

Sue Drummond's excellent Canoeist's Guide to the River Severn. Sue is the BCU Access Officer for the Severn, and can be contacted at Drummond Outdoor, South View, 8 Severn Bank, Shrewsbury SY1 2JD (Tel: 01743 365022) for a free copy.

 

Most of the bridge information came from Chris Witt's lovely book "A Century of Bridges". 1998. 3.50.  Click here for details.   Thanks also to Richard Lycett.

 

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Last modified: September 26, 2006