Severn Bore Chase - 12th March 2005
OK, so not exactly a storm chase, but it's another wonder of nature baby! Predictions were for a 4* bore early on this Saturday morning, based on the tide levels. Melting snows in the mountains of Wales were keeping the river levels close to normal despite the rather dry first quarter to the year. Some concerns were mentioned about the lack of a following wind, but the cross wind wasn't too strong and we didn't expect it to have too much effect.
After an early start (0430) we arrived at Awre on the banks of the Severn Estuary at around 0645... just in time for sunrise. The ground was frosty and the breeze cold, but the light across the estuary was stunning!
The bore was due at Awre at around 0750 but only arrived on the horizon at that time. In the early morning sunshine we could see the sandbanks becoming submerged as the estuarine birds were quickly forced to roost. The bore only arrived with us at around 0805, some 15 minutes late, but this is apparently par for the course. The wave was only small, but this was to be expected considering the estuary is a mile and a half wide at this point!
We watched the tide quickly rise behind the bore for a few minutes, the sea rising some 2 or 3 feet in perhaps 10 minutes, before we decided it was time to bolt for our next destination... Strand. The journey was in complete contrast to the empty roads on our arrival... the circus had descended. Driving through Newnham we were greeted by hundreds of cars parked alongside the road, the surreal site of canoeists and surfers readying themselves for the bore. We were getting ahead of them though, to probably the best of the 4 stops we made in my opinion.
We arrived at Strand in good time despite the traffic and positioned ourselves along the banks... much quieter here. The bore, still running late, arrived at around 0905 as a breaker across the full width of the 500m estuary and had clearly grown as it was squeezed into a smaller area.
Knowing that the crowd from Newnham would already be on the move, we made a fairly rapid exit to head for the popular stop of Minsterworth. Complete chaos greeted us here, thousands of cars parked everywhere in this tiny picturesque little village. No matter, we found a spot and got to the banks. The estuary has become tidal river by this point, so with the deeper and narrower channel, the bore is forced up still further, but doesn't break thanks to the depth of water beneath it. The banks had clearly got wet recently, so we were prepared to quickly head for higher ground, but although the bore came pretty close, our spot stayed dry... some good splashes along the outer banks though!
With the chaos in the village, there was no time to stop and watch the tide come in... we needed to head for our last stop at Maisemore and try and get ahead of the traffic. Well we didn't get ahead of all of it, but we made good enough time to position ourselves without too much fuss. No close up viewing point this time unfortunately, but still a good view from the bridge. Suddenly the wave appears around the corner piled high with surfers, canoeists and speed boats... can't help wondering how it must look when pristine...
All in all a successful and enjoyable chase was had by all... after an early and chilly start we all agreed the next stop should be the pub! ;-)
From left to right; Ali Dibb, Paul Knightley, Stu Robinson, Ian Brindley, Sarah, Mark Humpage, Laura Gilchrist and Brendan Jones. I was behind the camera but I think that's the best place for me! ;-)
All content and images © Sam Jowett