The natural phenomena of the Severn Bore is one of the most spectacular sights in the UK. The tidal range of the Severn Estuary is the second biggest in the world – as much as 50 feet during spring tides.

The funnelling of all this water into the narrow channel of the River Severn means that during the flood tide cycle a surging wave is formed that becomes ride-able, and it’s possible to surf this wave for quite a distance.

The reputation of the Severn Bore is such that a hardcore band of bore riders was formed a number of years ago and some enthusiasts have dedicated their lives to riding this quirk of Mother Nature in a bid to clock the longest rides they possibly can.

For the experienced paddler a sit on kayak is one of a number of perfect water going craft that can be used to ride this peculiar beast.

The two bladed paddle that kayakers use is perfect for generating that sometimes much needed boost of speed to keep up with the wave and see how far along the stretch you can ride it. And ride it you can – Steve King and Dave Lawson have both covered distances in excess of 5 miles on their surfboards! Steve King is the current Guinness World Record holder with a ride length of 9.25miles.

The speed of the wave can be around 16 kilometres an hour but unfortunately the peak can shift around a little from one side of the riverbank to the other.

As long as you have a degree of technical ability then you will be able to ride the Severn Bore with a degree of ease that surfers cannot muster.

How to get there:

Take the M5 and then follow signs to Fretherne.


There are no onsite facilities but you can find an abundance of pubs in the area for post bore riding refreshments.


The wave itself is not particularly dangerous – although you will still need a degree of expertise in a surf orientated environment to paddle here. The main hazards are things such a debris in the water, over hanging trees and bushes and the hordes of other riders who descend on the site when it’s forecast to be good.

Ins and Outs:

You are best placed to catch a ride on the Severn Bore if you drop in between Fretherne and Maisemore. A little bit of searching may be required for access if numbers of spectators and riders are high.


There are approximately 260 (2 per day over 130 days) surfable days per annum. Large bores occur about 25 days per annum. Between Minsterworth and Gloucesterthe speed is roughly 16 – 21 kph. The best bores occur with spring tides and are biggest around the Vernal Equinox (March – April) and Autumnal Equinox (August, September and October).


The Severn Bore is a unique tidal generated surge that pushes a ‘tidal wave’ up the River Severn during high spring tides.


Severn Bore, Fretherne