Hive Holiday : Severn Bore

The Libertà hive had a little holiday last week which included viewing the Severn Bore. Not, I hasten to add, as these guys do it,

Severn Bore surfers

but from the relative safety of the bank. Hive members and cold water don’t mix.

You have to be impressed, not only by the spectacle and roar of the Bore, but also by the guys — and they were all guys, we noticed, some young, some not so young, but not a female in sight — who turn up in wetsuits with surfboards in order to try their luck with the wave.

Severn before the Bore


Before the Bore arrives, the River Severn looks remarkably peaceful, as you can see, with a largish sandbank across about half its width. We were surprised at how shallow the water is here.

surfers await Severn Bore


Look at those intrepid surfers. They turned up, in ones and twos, slid down the muddy bank where we stood and trotted out to join their mates in the middle of the river.

The water is well below their knees as they stand, waiting for the Bore to arrive.They’re a friendly lot, too, chatting and joking as they wait and not, apparently, jostling for the best positions in the river. It seems that the challenge is the river, not each other.

And then the Severn Bore arrives. Seemingly in no time at all, the guys who were standing in barely a foot of water are surfing and trying to keep their balance in an extraordinary upstream wave, followed by a huge flood of water.

surfers battle Severn Bore

The surfers didn’t stay upright for long. The Bore swept round the corner and most of them made less than a hundred yards.

surfers losing to Severn Bore

Not surprising really, given the power of the Bore. It charges in towards the bank, drowning the sandbank, hitting the mud bank and then bouncing back out into midstream, creating all sorts of nasty counter-currents. And, in the space of less than ten minutes, the water has risen by at least ten feet, and the place where we had been standing is under water. Astonishing.

peaceful Severn after Bore

And after it’s all over, it returns to looking remarkably peaceful and unthreatening. Being wimps, the hive had already retreated from the power of the wave and were contemplating the joys of a Bore breakfast!

4 thoughts on “Hive Holiday : Severn Bore

  1. Christina Hollis

    Lovely photos. We’ve seen the Bore several times, but it never ceases to amaze. The river is deceptively dangerous, though, especially when it’s shallow and people are tempted to try and cross on foot. The tide comes in “faster than a galloping horse” allegedly, even on non-Bore days. A young family was killed in Lydney some years ago: they wouldn’t abandon their attempt to walk across, and all got swept away. Terribly sad.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Yes, Sophie and I were astonished at how shallow it appeared to be and then astonished again by the speed and power of the incoming water. We had a non-surfing surfer on the bank with us and he explained how dangerous it was for the surfing guys when they came off their boards and were swept towards the bank. The counter-currents looked vicious and we could see tumbled surfers fighting to keep control as they were pushed around.

      Reminded me of the Solway Firth where they say the same about the speed of the incoming tide. No bore there but there is a known way of walking across, the wath. It’s dangerous though and anyone who does it without a guide needs their head looking. I did use crossing the wath in one of my books — Bride of the Solway — but my research didn’t go as far as trying it myself! Reading the books about it was scary enough.

  2. Joan

    The Turnagin Bore in Alaska is also something to see. And yes, some crazies surf that one, too! Nice post and great pictures!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Glad you liked the post, Joan. The Alaskan bore is new to me though I knew about the huge one in Newfoundland. Actually the guys who were surfing the Severn Bore seemed really nice and friendly. Though I do agree that it seemed a crazy thing to do, especially when it was so very cold. But they were all grinning and pleased with themselves when they got back out, even the ones who only managed a few yards before the Bore got them. Takes all sorts, doesn’t it?

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