Well this morning saw me get up before 6am and make the trip from Telford to the village of Epney in Gloucestershire to see the Severn Bore. With yesterday’s solar eclipse that’s two natural phenomena in two days…I wonder what I’ll see tomorrow?
Today’s showing was my second visit to see the bore. I went last month but due to circumstances wasn’t able to get there for the morning bore and so had to see the evening one. You wont get any decent pictures from an night time bore, but I would recommend going to see in the evening if you get a chance. In fact if you haven’t seen the Severn Bore before my personal recommendation would be to travel down and see an evening/night time bore, stay the night somewhere close, then see the bore again the following morning. Why do it this way around? One word; atmosphere (in the dramatic sense). Sure your pictures won’t be up to much in the night (see below) but that’s why you go back in the morning.
Before & after shots near Elmore. Funny note my friend got a little damp as he was standing next to the tree to the right as the bore came up…slipped on his arse too.
So if the pictures are rubbish what’s so good about a night bore? For me it added an element of suspense. The night time is quieter and because you can’t see the bore coming you rely on that sound. When I went in February we first stopped at Epney and looking down the river there were a few of street lights reflecting on the water about a mile downstream. You could hear the bore long before it rounded the bend at Framilode and one by one those reflections disappeared in the turbulent water. A few minutes later the bore hits the river bank with a big crash and smooth, slowly flowing river turns into a mass of waves & wight water. Much more exciting and dramatic. Being at night too means that the roads are clearer which makes it easier to chase the bore and see it again further upstream. On the 20th February we actually saw the bore at 3 different locations (Epney, Elmore and Overbridge).
After you’ve had the drama of a night bore you’ll definitely want to go back to see it in the daylight for those pictures, so here are a few of mine from this morning.
So what is the Severn Bore? The Severn Bore is a tidal bore formed by the incoming high tide. For a bore to form a river needs two key features: 1) it must have a large tidal range (the difference in water level between high & low tide) and 2) it must have a rapidly shallowing & narrowing channel for the tide to flow into. What this means is that instead of getting the gently increasing tide that you find on a typical beach, the tide rises rapidly in a flood of water. This flood forms a wave that moves rapidly upstream, causing the the river to effectively flow uphill for a short period. The Severn Bore is one of the best places in Europe to see a tidal bore, with the wave sometimes being over 2 metres high. and travelling from the mouth all the way to Gloucester (and if Wikipedia is to be believed) occasionally as far as Tewkesbury.
The best bores on the Severn are in the Spring & Autumn, though smaller ones can be seen in most months. For more information and a timetable of the bores throughout the year check out www.thesevernbore.co.uk.
Oh and as a pool lifeguard of 10 years, a lifeguard trainer, an open water activities supervisor and a member of Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) I should say don’t get too close to the bank in case you fall in. If you are going surf or kayak the bore enjoy, but be prepared for the cold water of spring and weather conditions, don’t go in alone and make sure you know your exits before entering the water. And a final word of warning: DON’T SWIM IT AT NIGHT! There I’ve been a boring, old fart and said it.
Back to the fun stuff. If you’re into natural phenomena I’d recommend putting the Severn Bore on some sort of bucket list. As one of the best places in Europe to see a river flow backwards you’d have to go to the Amazon or the Qiantang rivers for a more spectacular example.