Shakespeare’s River

The River Avon or Avon is a river in central England which flows generally south-westwards towards the River Severn. It is also known as the Warwickshire Avon or Shakespeare’s Avon, to distinguish it from several other River Avon’s in the United Kingdom.

The river begins in Northamptonshire and flows through the counties of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire through the towns of:

View of the River Avon Photograph by William Hands
  • Warwick (past Warwick Castle)
  • Rugby
  • Stratford-upon-Avon (past the RSC theatre and Holy Trinity)
  • Evesham
  • Pershore
  • Tewkesbury

Where it then joins the River Seven flowing on through the Bristol Channel. The river has traditionally been divided since 1719 into the Lower Avon which is the part below Evesham and the Upper Avon which flows between Stratford-upon-Avon to Evesham.

Improvements that have aided navigation began in 1635 when a series of locks and weirs were added and made it possible to reach Stratford within 4 miles of Warwick. The Avon connects with the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal in the centre of Stratford which is used mostly by leisure craft.

One of the bridges across the river Avon photograph by: William Hands

The course of the River Avon begins in a spring by the village of Naseby in Northamptonshire and for the first few miles between Welford and the Dow Bridge the river forms a border between Northamptonshire and Leicestershire. On this section of the river it has been dammed to create the Stanford Reservoir and then flows in a south-westerly direction through the Vale of Evesham and on wards through Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon before joining the Rive Severn in Tewkesbury.

The Avon has a total length of 85 miles and is joined with the Rivers Leam, Stour, Sowe, Dene, Arrow, Swift, Isbourne and Swilgate as well as many minor streams and brooks.

There is a long distance footpath that has been created which follows the river from its source to the River Severn at Tewkesbury. This route is known as Shakespeare’s Avon Way, and is 88 miles long. It uses existing footpaths and tracks to stay as close to the river as is reasonably possible.

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