Friday, 12 September 2014

Severn Boring.

Yesterday, another of these lovely warm misty September mornings, a friend, her eighteen month old daughter Molly and I went to see this.
Not with wet-suits and surf boards though.
Just with some drinks, a copious picnic for Molly and a folding chair for me.

We went downstream from where we live to the pretty village of Minsterworth, where the River Severn has to push its way through a comparatively narrow channel on its route to the sea.
For this is the secret of boring success, the narrowing of a channel, so that incoming sea and outflowing river meet in conflict. As the tide rises sea trumps river and suddenly the river is forced backwards, upstream, fighting and churning all the way until the tide relents, sinks and allows the flow to reverse again.

A natural phenomenon which occurs twice a day, and sometimes the effect is barely perceptible. Then occasionally a combination of factors; wind direction, low air-pressure,  high level of water in the river, high tides and always, always the pull of the moon build together to make the effect spectacular, to make the primary wave dramatic and its after-effects memorable. Then determined characters rush out with their surfboards, canoes and even micro-light aircraft to follow the wave at about 8 to 12 miles per hour as it roars and weaves along the river's path through green fields.

A pleasant saunter on a surfboard you might think, but not when you see what is just behind the primary wave, for there is a churning, racing maelstrom of dark opaque water, punctuated by random whirlpools and conflicting currents. There are huge gyrating tree trunks, swirling logs and random detritus bobbing and cavorting in an unpredictable dance as fresh and sea water continue their wrestling match along the river bed.

After nearly an hour the flow of water slows, and the clots of foam from riverside manufacturing begin, very slowly, to sink. The sea water feels the pull as the tide begins to turn, and after a brief period of tranquillity the whole process is reversed. River trumps sea, and the invading salt water is pushed back.

So Molly concluded her picnic, parishioners at the nearby church stopped serving bacon butties and coffee, the cameras were packed away and we leave the mighty Severn with its third highest tidal range in the world (in the WORLD - our local river) to push all that salt water and old wood back out to the open sea.

Not boring at all.


Marigold Jam said...

I lived for quite a bit of my childhood in the Forest of Dean and yet have never actually seen the bore happening so maybe I should put that on my bucket list of things to see before I die?! It certainly sounds amazing though like you I think I would stay on the bank with my sandwiches and not venture into the water.

Relatively Retiring said...

Marigold: yes, my first visit too, after nearly forty years here. The locals seem to cater well for all the visitors.

Elephant's Child said...

Oh how I would love to see it. As a spectator. Decidedly as a spectator.

Relatively Retiring said...

E.C: oh yes, spectating is best. I don't understand how anyone would want to fall into water that looks like cold cocoa.

Ali Honey said...

Wow. Sounds amazing. Your words painted a very good picture.

Zhoen said...

Got to see a very minor one in the Bay of Fundy.

But this is sooooo boring.

That's a joke, I actually think it's swell.

Relatively Retiring said...

Ali Honey: thank you for reading and commenting. Safe journey.

Zhoen: ha ha!

pohanginapete said...

Sorry I missed it -- it sounds spectacular and reminds me of certain scenes in the film Spirited away. Maybe I'll get to see it next time.

Jenny Woolf said...

I would like to see the Severn Bore. We were staying in your area once but still missed it.

Leslee said...

How fascinating! I see surfers at the coast here all the time, but I've never seen them on a river. It looks lovely there.

Molly Bon said...

I didn't know this was called a bore, but something similar was described, just as you describe it here, in a novel I recently read called A Winter Marriage. Sounds like you had the better part of it, sitting on the bank in your chair. Don't think I could get too excited either about swimming in cocoa....Glad you are able to make small trips out at least!

Joy said...

Very interesting. I have never heard of nor seen this, and even more strange is the name of it... 'boring'.