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River Gwash facts for kids

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The River Gwash, near Manton, Rutland - - 160675.jpg
The Gwash at Manton, before it enters Rutland Water
River Gwash is located in Lincolnshire
River Gwash
Location of the river mouth in Lincolnshire
Country England
Counties Lincolnshire, Rutland, Leicestershire
Physical characteristics
Main source Knossington
168 m (551 ft)
52°40′20″N 0°49′13″W / 52.672149°N 0.820308°W / 52.672149; -0.820308
River mouth River Welland
19 m (62 ft)
52°39′15″N 0°27′02″W / 52.654065°N 0.450421°W / 52.654065; -0.450421
Length 39 km (24 mi)
Basin features
River system River Welland

The River Gwash, a tributary of the River Welland, flows through the English counties of Leicestershire, Rutland and Lincolnshire. It rises just outside the village of Knossington in Leicestershire, near the western edge of Rutland. It is about 39 kilometres (24 mi) long.


Brooke Road (Geograph 3079925 by Christine Johnstone)
Valley of the Gwash at Brooke Priory

The source of the river is just north-west of the village of Knossington, but the Gwash is formed of several small headwaters that come together near Braunston-in-Rutland before passing the site of Brooke Priory at SK847062 and running westward to pass under the railway Northwest of Manton (SK876052).

The Gwash then helps to fill the Rutland Water reservoir which was formed by damming its valley at Empingham. From the reservoir a controlled flow is released to maintain the flow around Tolethorpe Hall and Stamford and into the River Welland. The flow is enhanced by the Gwash's tributary, the North Brook, at SK956083 in Empingham, which significantly helps maintain riverlife.

East of Stamford, its course is now fixed but it lies in a small flood plain which shows clear signs of the river's former meandering. The pasture fields include depressions which fill in wet seasons forming oxbow lakes, though they are not of the classical shape. Near Stamford it is the parish boundary between Stamford and Uffington.

First view of Stamford - - 487426
The Gwash Valley east of Stamford on the Macmillan Way

West of Stamford, the Gwash crossed the Stamford Canal, requiring some elaborate hydraulic works. Although the canal has been dry for over a century, the Borderville weir has only just been removed, and some meanders re-watered.

The river feeds the millpond at Newstead Mill in the parish of Uffington before entering the Welland at Newstead Bridge just east of Stamford.


The river supports a wild variety of fish species, including grayling and trout. Chub and dace inhabit the lower length below Newstead bridge in Stamford.

There are attempts to re-introduce water voles in the area.

There are concerns about non-native signal crayfish becoming dominant in the river, and reports of a deliberate introduction. The river has formed part of pilot control trials.


Newstead Mill near Stamford (geograph 3397330)
Newstead Mill, on the Gwash near the confluence with the Welland

The name appears to be derived from the Old English (ge)waesc 'a washing, a flood'. The earliest form was "le Whasse" (c1230); the use of an initial G- is first recorded in 1586 and the spelling 'Gwash' appears to be a quasi-Welsh spelling.

In literature

Local poet John Clare wrote a sonnet about the Gwash, published in Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (London, 1820):

Where winding gash wirls round its wildest scene
On this romantic bend I sit me down
On that side view the meads their smoothing green
Edg'd with the peeping hamlets checkering brown
Here the steep hill as dripping headlong down
While glides the stream a silver streak between
As glides the shaded clouds along the sky
Brightning & deep'ning loosing as they're seen
In light & shade—so when old willows lean
Thus their broad shadow—runs the river bye
With tree & bush repleat a wilderd scene
& mossd & Ivyd sparkling on my eye—
O thus wild musing am I doubly blest
My woes unheeding—& my heart at rest.

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