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Riding the Wave: Tuesday’s ‘five-star’ Severn Bore Offers Adrenaline-Pumping Action for Gloucestershire Water Enthusiasts

Surfers, kayakers, and spectators are buzzing with excitement at the imminent arrival of the biggest Severn Bore event of 2024.

The bore is visible 260 times per year but is at its largest during the equinox, when a five-star event occurs, as it will today.

Formed when the rising tide moves into the Bristol Channel, the bore is a surge of water that creates a visible wave which funnels into an increasingly narrow channel as it makes its way up the Severn Estuary.

Surfers and Kayakers brave the Severn Bore at the Severn Bore Inn, Minsterworth.

One of the biggest in the world, the Severn Bore can reach heights of three metres and travels between eight and 21 kilometres per hour. Along its route through sandy estuary areas, the wave can expand to widths of up to 250 metres.

On Monday, Watersports enthusiasts, numbering in the hundreds, braved water hazards such as overhanging branches and floating trees for an opportunity to enjoy the smaller, four-star wave.

Many surfers and kayakers pursued the wave as it travelled along the Severn, stopping at popular spots in Newnham, Broadoak, Epney, and Maisemore to ride the bore multiple times. The race between locations created an extra sense of excitement for all involved.

Heavy rainfall in the area throughout early March has caused high water levels in the River Severn, which, together with high winds, can adversely affect the size of the wave.

However, the conditions did not dampen the enthusiasm of the spectators. Promised an unforgettable experience, people flock in their thousands from far and wide. Gail Cornish travelled from Suffolk to witness the fun, and while the size of Monday’s wave fell short of expectations, she remained optimistic about Tuesday’s five-star spectacle.

Rich in history and tradition, the Severn Bore saw Colonel John Fleming Churchill become the first to surf it in 1955, earning him the nickname “Mad Jack” alongside his wartime and archery achievements. In 2006, Gloucestershire-based engineer Steve King set a Guinness World Record for the longest surfing ride on a river bore.

However, despite the public’s deep-rooted affection for the tidal wonder, its future is uncertain due to a proposed £20 million project by the Severn Tidal Power Group to build the Severn Barrage, a 10-mile-long dam aimed at harnessing the wave’s power. This initiative could significantly impact the bore, potentially leading to its demise.

While enthusiasts hope the Barrage plans don’t materialise, the threat serves as a reminder to cherish this incredible tidal phenomenon while it lasts.

Make sure you don’t miss the Severn Bore this week. Popular viewing spots include the White Hart Inn, Broadoak, The Severn Bore Inn, Minsterworth, and Maisemore Bridge on the A417. Visit this link for the best viewing times.

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