Dan Hobson

Hike Britain’s longest river from source to sea — Severn Way

IntrepidExplorer82 (CC BY 2.0)

Hike Britain’s longest river from source to sea — Severn Way

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson

15-32

days

3-6 h

/ day

237 mi

7,025 ft

8,625 ft

The Severn Way is a long-distance hike which follows Britain's longest river, the Severn, from its mountain source to the sea.

The route begins high on the rugged Plynlimon plateau in Mid-Wales and descends through Hafren Forest, Llanidloes, Newtown, and Welshpool. Upon crossing the border into England, it continues through Shrewsbury, Ironbridge, Worcester, Tewkesbury and Gloucester to Severn Beach and concludes along the River Avon into Bristol City Centre. The official route is 224 miles (360 km). However, with a few detours to accommodation and worthy sites, this Collection totals 237 miles (381 km).

As you witness the Severn grow from mountain trickle to two-mile-wide estuary, a rich array of landscapes await; from wild upland to pastoral farmland, wildlife-rich wetland to ancient woodland, sleepy hamlets to major cities. Wildlife is abundant on this trail. Culture, tradition and folklore are with you every step of the way.

Historical sites are ten-a-penny along this route, too. Highlights include: Powis Castle, a medieval fortress perched above stunning gardens; Charles Darwin’s birthplace; Wroxeter Roman City, the fourth largest settlement in Roman Britain; Ironbridge Gorge, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution; Worcester Cathedral; Tewkesbury Abbey; Odda's Chapel; Gloucester Cathedral; the Severn Bridge; countless Grade I-listed churches; many picturesque timber-framed Georgian buildings; crumbling castles; country estates; plus lots more.

At 220 miles (354 km), the River Seven is the longest in Britain. It also boasts the most voluminous flow of water of all the rivers in England and Wales. The river drains an area of 4,350 square miles (11,266 km2). The tides flowing into the Severn Estuary can travel upstream for more than 25 miles (40 km) and can swell the depth of the river by more than 50 feet (15 m).

In this Collection, I split the trail into 14 stages, ranging from 9.5 miles (15.3 km) to 20.3 miles (32.7 km). Now, this is an ambitious itinerary geared towards seasoned long-distance hikers. That said, on the seven stages that are considerably above 15 miles (24 km), I have made suggestions on how you can split the routes, resulting in a much steadier 21-stage itinerary that is suitable for all abilities and anyone with average fitness levels.

Of course, you can divide the Collection into as many days as you are comfortable with or walk any single stage. Places to stay, eat and drink are abundant en route and public transport links are generally good. There are a couple of remote sections but you never stray too far from civilisation. Every stage finishes close to accommodation, as do the suggested route splits.

As the trail begins high on a mountain range, some forward planning is required to get to the start. Llanidloes is the nearest town. To get here, you can catch a train to Caersws (which has direct links to Shrewsbury) and then catch the X75 bus to Llanidloes. You would then need to arrange a taxi or similar to take you to Blaen Hafren Falls. Things are much easier at the end of the trail in Bristol, which has excellent public transport links.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    06:24
    14.4 mi
    2.3 mph
    800 ft
    2,075 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The first stage takes you from the River Severn’s mountain source to the pretty timber-framed town of Llanidloes.

    As you can’t be dropped-off at the source, this hike is extended to begin at the nearest road drop-off point. From here, you rise to the rugged summit of Pumlumon and then hike north to the source of the Severn, Britain’s longest river.

    You then follow the river into Hafren Forest. A short while into the woodland, you come across Blaen Hafren Falls, a small but picturesque waterfall on the infant Severn. The trail then descends gently along forest roads beside the river into pastoral farmland

    This stage finishes in Llanidloes, a gorgeous little town with a wealth of historic buildings. Here, you find a great choice of accommodation, places for food and drink, shops and other attractions.

  • Difficult
    07:53
    17.7 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,550 ft
    1,750 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 2 rises and falls through peaceful Powys countryside, dotted with sleepy villages and woodlands, to finish in Newtown.

    With 17.7 miles (28.5 km) to cover, 1,550 feet (472 m) …

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  • Difficult
    06:11
    14.9 mi
    2.4 mph
    350 ft
    425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You hike under a historic bridge, visit a medieval fortress and explore the vibrant town of Welshpool on this hike.

    After a challenging previous stage, the terrain levels out considerably …

  • Difficult
    05:10
    12.7 mi
    2.5 mph
    75 ft
    150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This hike follows the River Severn closely for the most part and visits some treasured historical sites along the way.

    As the Severn winds through Welshpool, you pass two historic buildings; the 18th-century town hall and the 13th-century St Mary’s Church. On the outskirts of town, you come across a second Grade I-listed church, All Saints, which dates to the 14th century.

    The trail then links with the Offa’s Dyke path (to see a Collection on this trail, click here: komoot.com/collection/894399/epic-coast-to-coast-along-ancient-monument-offas-dyke-path) and follows the Severn closely.

    A little while after crossing Neath Brook, the trail parts ways with the Offa’s Dyke path and follows the Severn through pretty farmland to the outskirts of Crew Green village, which is very close to the border with England. While facilities are not abundant, you do find accommodation and places to eat dotted around.

  • Difficult
    06:48
    16.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    450 ft
    450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    You step over the border from Wales into England on this stage, which brings you to Shrewsbury, the home of naturalist Charles Darwin.

    With 16.4 miles (26.4 km) to cover, this is a lengthy hike. Easy-going and gently-undulating terrain throughout compensates somewhat, however. (For suggestions on how to split the stage, read on.)

    To begin, you give the River Severn a wide berth to avoid the Nesscliffe Military Training Area. You rejoin the river at Shrawardine village and then follow lanes to Montford Bridge. Here,cross the Severn and follow footpaths through fields to the outskirts of Shrewsbury.

    The remainder of the stage meanders into the heart of Shrewsbury, taking you past Charles Darwin’s birthplace and to some of the town’s most prized streets.

    Splitting this hike is not too easy. Montford Bridge village marks the halfway point and there is limited accommodation dotted around, including a campsite. For something more luxurious, you will probably need to arrange a pick-up.

  • Difficult
    08:27
    20.3 mi
    2.4 mph
    575 ft
    600 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage visits the crumbling remains of the fourth largest city in Roman Britain and finishes at the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Ironbridge.

    The longest stage in a challenging …

  • Intermediate
    04:00
    9.53 mi
    2.4 mph
    350 ft
    325 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This riverside hike winds through picturesque Shropshire countryside and visits some wonderfully-historic sites.

    After a mammoth previous stage, this hike is under 10 miles (16 km) and is nearly entirely level. As such, you have plenty of time to explore Ironbridge before heading off.

    You start in Ironbridge Gorge, hailed as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Upon crossing the Iron Bridge — the first of its kind in the world — you follow the River Severn through woodland and farmland all the way to Bridgnorth.

    Within the town, there are a couple of historic sites worth seeing; Lavington's Hole, a curious set of tunnels that were dug during the Civil War in the 17th century, and the listing tower of Bridgnorth Castle. You find lots of places to stay in Bridgnorth, as well as pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops and more.

  • Difficult
    06:23
    15.2 mi
    2.4 mph
    500 ft
    575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Vintage steam engines, kaleidoscope trees, peaceful countryside and fine Georgian architecture all combine on this stage.

    From Bridgnorth, you hike alongside the River Severn as it meanders south. Near Severn Valley Country Park, you cross the river and continue along its other bank.

    If you are lucky, you should see heritage steam engines thundering through the countryside along this route, thanks to the Severn Valley Railway heritage line. At Arley, however, it’s worth a brief detour to the vintage station so you can get up close to the locomotives. Arley Arboretum is another worthy detour and there are pit-stop opportunities, too.

    You rejoin the trail and continue south past Trimpley Reservoir and onto the picturesque Georgian town of Bewdley. Within the characteristic streets, you find independent shops, places for food and drink, galleries, boutiques, and places to stay.

  • Difficult
    06:56
    16.7 mi
    2.4 mph
    475 ft
    450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This hike follows the River Severn from Shropshire into Worcestershire and finishes by a cathedral that’s been a place of worship since 680 AD.

    At 16.7 miles (26.9 km), this is a challenging stage. Whilst the majority of the hike is over level terrain, there are a few little hills. (For a suggestion on how to split the stage, read on.)

    You leave Bewdley to the south, follow the river to Stourport-on-Severn and continue through pretty farmland interspersed with small woodlands. At Holt Fleet Bridge, you cross the Severn and rise inland through Holt village.

    The trail descends through Grimley village, joins the river once again and follows it to Worcester Bridge. Here, you cross into Worcester and finish by the spectacular Grade I-listed cathedral. Within the city, you find a great choice of accommodation, places for food and drink, shops and plenty of other attractions.

    If you wish to split the stage, there is accommodation dotted around Holt Fleet.

  • Difficult
    07:34
    18.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    250 ft
    250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage meanders from Worcestershire into Gloucestershire and finishes in the medieval town of Tewkesbury, home to a magnificent 11th-century abbey.

    At 18.5 miles (29.8 km) long, Stage 10 is …

  • Difficult
    05:34
    13.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    275 ft
    250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You visit wonderfully-historic sites nestled within pastoral countryside on this stage, which winds into the heart of Gloucester.

    The hike begins alongside the River Avon, which joins the Severn on the outskirts of Tewkesbury. Here, you rejoin the trail’s namesake to Deerhurst village, where you find two treasured historic sites; Odda's Chapel, one of the most complete surviving Saxon churches in England, and the Grade I-listed St Mary’s Church.

    You hike along the Severn’s tree-lined banks through open fields and rise through woodland on the side of Norton Hill. You then head through Sandhurst Nature Reserve, past Sandhurst village, and through peaceful farmland to Gloucester.

    The stage finishes by Gloucester Cathedral, a magnificent Grade I-listed building that has been a place of worship for more than 1,300 years. Within the city, you find an excellent choice of accommodation, places for food and drink, shops, and other attractions.

  • Difficult
    06:13
    15.3 mi
    2.5 mph
    125 ft
    175 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The ever-widening River Severn takes you on a meandering walk through fine countryside filled with history and beauty.

    To begin, you hike past Gloucester's historic docks and emerge into a thin band of greenbelt, which skirts around the city into open countryside. Once past Quedgeley, the river makes a wide meander to Minster village, on the opposite bank, and sweeps back to St John’s, a stunning Grade I-listed church that dates to the 13th century.

    You rejoin the river and follow its tree-lined bank through expansive arable fields. Near Longney village, you pass a large lake on the Severn. The trail continues through Epney village and concludes in Saul village a short time later.

    You find accommodation and options for food and drink in Saul and nearby Frampton on Severn village.

  • Difficult
    08:07
    19.9 mi
    2.5 mph
    225 ft
    200 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You visit Britain’s longest village green, explore an atmospheric ship graveyard and admire more fine medieval architecture on this stage.

    With 19.9 miles (32 km) to cover, this challenging hike …

  • Difficult
    06:07
    15.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    175 ft
    200 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You see the River Severn complete its journey from mountain trickle to magnificent tidal estuary on the penultimate stage.

    Rejoin the Severn south of Berkeley and hike alongside the immense river through farmland. Across the water are the hills of South Wales and in the distance you see the mighty bridges that make the crossing between England and Wales.

    The first bridge you encounter is the original Severn Bridge, a breathtaking Grade I-listed structure that was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1966. You then continue along the boundary of marshy wetland and farmland until the Prince of Wales Bridge, which was opened by the prince 30 years after the original crossing.

    It is then a short distance to Severn Beach village, where this stage finishes. Unfortunately, accommodation is limited around here. However, there is a train station which runs regular services into the city of Bristol, where there is plenty of choice.

  • Difficult
    07:05
    16.6 mi
    2.3 mph
    900 ft
    725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage heads along the River Avon into the heart of Bristol, a city alive with culture and buzzing with energy.

    Firstly, let’s clear up any Avon confusion. Stage …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    15
  • Distance
    237 mi
  • Duration
    98:52 h
  • Elevation
    7,025 ft8,625 ft

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Dan Hobson

Hike Britain’s longest river from source to sea — Severn Way