Derwent River

Seathwaite Fell courtesy Mic Garratt geograph.org.ukThe source of Derwent River lies 1960 feet above sea level. Its 33 miles run from Seathwaite Fell past Workington to the sea. Depending on the amount of rainfall the river can be low and quiet or wild and racing. In fact, in very dry summers the river disappears in some spots altogether, heading underground.

Styhead Gill courtesy Michael Graham geograph.org.ukThe river begins at Sprinkling tarn then wends its way to Styhead tarn. Officially it is not called the Derwent River but is known as Styhead Gill at this point. It isn’t until after it leaves Taylorgill Force and unites with Grains Gill that it is baptised as Derwent River.

From here the river heads toward the Borrowdale village of Seathwaite, its claim to fame being known as the wettest inhabited spot in Britain. Rainfall averages 140 inches a year.

Derwent River road between Seathwaite and Seatoller courtesy DS Pugh geograph.org.ukGlimpses of the river can be seen traveling along the minor road from Seathwaite to Seatoller and northward in Borrowdale along the B5289 to Derwent Water. At Grange there’s a double arched stone bridge across the river. From here the river disappears into Derwent Lake.

River Derwent flowing into Bassenthwaite Lake by Ann Bowker Mad About MountainsFrom Derwent Lake the river moves forward and empties into Bassenthwaite Lake. Leaving Bassenthwaite Lake the river is traversed by a three-arched 19th century bridge. Salmon like this spot for spawning. The river eventually unites with the Cocker River in its search for the sea. Past Brigham, Great Clifton, and Seaton it reaches the sea near Workington.

Derwent river from near grange in borrowdale by Tony Richards Lakeland CamWilliam Wordsworth was raised in Cockermouth along the banks of the river that flowed past the bottom of the garden at Wordsworth House. He wrote a sonnet to the river and also in The Prelude penned these words:

“When, having left his mountains, to the towers Of Cockermouth that beauteous river came, Behind my father’s house he passed, close by He was a playmate whom we dearly loved.”

The river offers fisherman a chance to catch pike, roach, and trout.

Photos courtesy of Tony Richards, Ann Bowker, Michael Graham, Mic Garratt, D. S. Pugh and Steve Partridge The Geograph British Isles Project.

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