The river at Bewdley is bounded during summer months by two fords, one at the top of the river and one at the southern end of the town. Although these fords can be crossed when the water is high enough, care must be taken beyond these boundaries.
This trip down the stretch of the River Severn start upstream at the top of the water normally used by Bewdley Rowing club and finishes downstream at the Lax Lane ford.
Dowles Ford: The ford forms the top of the normal rowing area at Bewdley. The ford can clearly be seen just below the piers of the old railway bridge. The water is very shallow in the area below the ford and all boats should turn well clear of this hazard.
When the water is high (boats must be able to float on the bottom step of the club with the crew), this ford can be crossed. However the water upstream of the ford is fast flowing with a number of tricky fords and races. Any crew crossing this ford should take extreme care.
Yellow Tree: The first landmark at the top of the river is a tree on the club side with a painted yellow stripe down the trunk.
This tree is above the normal regatta start but is used as a start by crews race training. From this tree to the gasworks is approximately 500m and to the club is about 900m.
Regatta Start: The open area on the club side bank, just above the water flow measurement station is the site of the long regatta start.
This is an open area of the river but in most condition gives calm flat water.
The gasworks: This is a very visible landmark on the town side of the river. This is normally the furthest upstream that can be seen from the club steps. Timed 500m pieces from the yellow tree finish in line with the downstream end of the house (a concrete blockhouse can be seen on the bank below the house that is also in line with this edge). This part of the river can be difficult to row through in most water conditions.
Shallows exist on the club side of the river opposite the Gasworks and extend upstream on this site. A particular large flat rocky area catches the bow side blades of crews that row too close to the bank in this area. Higher water levels give rise to very disturbed water and strong currents push boats moving upstream into the club side bank.
Town shallows: Shallow water exists by the town wall opposite the club and in the bay just upriver from the wall. In particular there is a pipe just below the water level about in line with the white van in the picture.
Crews should stay well clear of this wall and also keep away from the bank in the bay just above the town.
Club: The club is on the opposite bank to the town of Bewdley just upstream of the main road bridge. The regatta finish is the downstream end of the club steps (to the right in the picture).
Water levels on the River Severn can vary greatly and quickly. For the safety of crews no boat is allowed on the water if any part of the top, red, step is covered. Novice crews should not go on the water if the bottom two steps are covered. Coaches should always ensure that they are happy that a crew has the ability to deal with the water conditions that exist on any given day. If a crew takes a boat on the water without a coach, then the crew is responsible for judging their ability to handle the river conditions.
Town Bridge: This picture of the bridge is taken from the town side of the river, below the bridge. All crews must pass through the center arch of the bridge at all times. Priority is always to be given to boats moving down stream.
Strong currents can exist through the arch of the bridge so coaches should only allow crews below the bridge if they believe that the specific crew is capable of handling the currents and water conditions on the day.
Lax Lane ford: This is the limit of summer rowing from Bewdley Rowing Club. This ford can be crossed when there is sufficient water on the lower step at the club. Coxes taking boats across the ford should steer the boat across the point of the V visible in the water.
The same route should be used on returning back upstream, however, be aware of strong currents that tend to sweep a boat across the river. Rowing below the ford will eventually bring you to the new road bridge followed by Blackstone rock.