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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.

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Severn Way

226 mi

5,625 ft

7,575 ft

Last updated: November 9, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Source of the River Severn to Llanidloes — Severn Way

    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

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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) of uphill and 1,750 feet (533 m) of downhill, this challenging hike will really test your fitness and endurance. (For a suggestion

    by Dan Hobson

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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 on this one, which begins as a riverside saunter from Newtown. A little while after Llanllwchaiarn, you join the Montgomery

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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 itinerary, this hike is 20.3 miles (32.7 km) with 575 feet (175 m) of uphill and of 600 feet (183 m) downhill

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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 another tough hike. The saving grace, however, is level walking for the most part. (For a suggestion on how

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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 will really test your mettle. The terrain is level throughout, though. (For advice on how to split this stage

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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

    by Dan Hobson

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  • 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 11 began with following the River Avon to where it finished in the Severn and Stage 15 follows the River Avon from where it empties

    by Dan Hobson

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Questions and Comments

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

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