The Severn Bore Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Severn Bore

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Yawn! The Severn Bore is not an alcoholic person from the region around the River Severn, who sends you to sleep with lots of uninteresting stories. It is a tidal wave.

The Severn River, which flows from Wales into the Bristol channel in England, has the second highest tidal range in the world, more than 14.5 metres. When this tide suddenly increases, it is restricted by hard-rocked river banks at Sharpness, where there are also ledges in the river bed. This holds up the water and stops it flowing forward, causing the waters' pile up and so the bore is formed.

The bore builds speed and height as the river gets shallower and by the time it reaches Minsterworth it can be travelling at 16kph and can be two metres tall. The largest bore was recorded at nine feet high. In all, the bore travels 21 miles between Awre and Gloucester, usually occurring one to three days after a new or full moon.

The best places to watch the Severn Bore are at Minsterworth, Framilode and Stonebench.

You can watch thrill-seeking surfers who regularly try to ride the bore up the river. But have a care where you watch from as the bore is very dangerous and high tides can become a problem leaving viewers stranded and in need of rescue.

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