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Surfing the Severn Bore

Posted on 24th April 2017

While the Forest of Dean is somewhere we associate with calm retreats, relaxing ambles through the forest and chilled afternoons in local pubs, the area has an adventurous side that is both surprising and exhilarating.

Surfers on the Severn Bore

If you wish to combine your relaxing Forest of Dean cottage holiday with an activity-filled itinerary, then bring your surfboards as riding the Severn bore is a rite of passage for any English thrill seeker. If you are expecting waves to rival Hawaii then you will be disappointed, however if instead you want to encounter a natural phenomenon on the front line and have an extended surfing experience, then this would be perfect.

The Severn River has the second highest tidal range in the world, measuring up to 50 feet. Due to the shape of the estuary and the conditions of the tides, a surge is created that ripples along many miles of river. The first person to surf the Severn Bore was Colonel ‘Mad Jack’ Churchill who made his own board and attempt on the bore in 1955 and it has attracted other adrenaline junkies ever since with growing popularity. It can get busy, with up to 30 surfers attempting to ride the wave at any time, so keep an eye out for others on some of the narrower stretches of river as people weave to keep ahead of the surge.

If you have little interest in participating, there are lots of places to view the spectacle from the safety of dry land. On the really high surges, there can be something of a party atmosphere in the different viewing spots, with people cheering on the surfers. The Severn Bore website not only gives you the best times to try and surf the Bore, but also the best locations to view it from and all the details on how to sign up to surf the Bore.

Image Credit: Tess (Wikimedia Commons)