|- left||Strode Brook, Winford Brook|
|- location||Mendip Hills, Somerset, England|
|- elevation||305 m (1,001 ft)|
|Mouth||River Avon, Bristol|
|- location||Keynsham, Somerset, England|
|- elevation||10 m (33 ft)|
|Length||27 km (17 mi)|
|Basin||145 km2 (56 sq mi)|
|- average||1.18 m3/s (42 cu ft/s)|
|- max||20 m3/s (706 cu ft/s)|
|- min||0.5 m3/s (18 cu ft/s)|
Topographical map of the Chew Valley
The spring from which the Chew rises is just upstream from Chewton Mendip. The river flows North West from Chewton Mendip through Litton, Chew Valley Lake, Chew Stoke, Chew Magna and Stanton Drew. The river passes under the A37 at Pensford almost making the old church and pub garden into an island. The river then flows through the villages of Publow, Woollard, Compton Dando and Chewton Keynsham before joining the River Avon at Keynsham. For much of the Chew's route the Two Rivers Way footpath is alongside, the same route for part of its length is also part of the Monarch's Way long distance footpath. In total the Chew flows for some 17 miles (27 km) through the North Somerset countryside.
The name "Chew"
The name "Chew" has Celtic origins, cognate with the River Chwefru, cliwyf-ffrenwy, "the moving, gushing water", ancient forms are Estoca (Chew Stoke), Chiu (Chew Magna) and Ciwetune (Chewton Mendip). Its exact meaning has suggested several other explanations, including "winding water", the ew being a variant of the French eau, meaning "water". The word chewer is a western dialect for a narrow passage and chare is Old English for turning.
However, some people agree with Ekwall's interpretation that it is derived from the Welsh cyw meaning "the young of an animal, or chicken", so that Afon Cyw would have been "the river of the chickens".
Other possible explanations suggest it comes from the Old English word cēo ("fish gill"), used in the transferred sense of a ravine, in a similar way to Old Norse gil, or possibly a derogatory nickname from Middle English chowe ("chough"), Old English cēo, a bird closely related to the crow and the jackdaw, notorious for its chattering and thieving. According to Robinson it is named after the Viking war god Tiw.
It is likely that the current course of the river occurred after the last ice age and that previously the river followed the course of the Congresbury Yeo to the Bristol Channel. When ice blocked the Bristol Channel the course is likely to have been diverted so that the Chew flowed north rather than west through Compton Martin to join the Avon.
Floods of 1968
On 10–11 July a storm brought heavy rainfall to the Valley, with 175 millimetres (7 in) falling in 18 hours on Chew Stoke, double the area's average rainfall for the whole of July.
Fishing rights for the Millground and Chewton sections of the river are owned by Keynsham Angling Club. The Mill Ground stretch of the River Chew consists of the six left-bank fields (looking downstream) from Chewton Place at Chewton Keynsham to the Albert Mill, Keynsham. The water is home to a good stock of sizeable Chub, Roach, European perch and Rudd, along with good numbers of Gudgeon, Dace and Trout. In the Chewton section, waters are much more 'wild' than the Mill Ground, with overhanging trees and fast-flowing runs, leading to deeper eddies and pools. Not all swims are fishable and some will need hacking out before angling, but this is a classic roving river. Trout, Grayling and Chub lurk in the shady, meandering stream, along with a good showing of Dace, Roach and Eel.
Any flood alerts for this river are available from the Environment Agency River Chew from Chewstoke to Keynsham page.
- "Notes on the names of parishes in the county of Somerset", Notes and Queries 15 September 1883:204, drawing upon Eyton, Domesday Studies and Collinson, Somerset.
- "History of the River Chew". River Chew Web Site. Retrieved 3 July 2006.
- Ekwall, Eilert (1928). English River-Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869119-X.
- "What we know about the Chew Family". Retrieved 3 July 2006.
- Robinson, Stephen (1992). Somerset Place Names. Wimbourne: The Dovecote Press Ltd. ISBN 1-874336-03-2.
- Haslett, Simon K. (2010). Somerset Landscapes: Geology and landforms. Usk: Blackbarn Books. pp. 116–118. ISBN 9781456416317.
- Havinden, Michael. The Somerset Landscape. The making of the English landscape. London: Hodder and Stoughton. p. 71. ISBN 0-340-20116-9.
- "The great flood of 1968". Memories of Bristol. Archived from the original on 2 May 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2006.
- Richley, Rob (June 2008). The Chew Valley floods of 1968. Exeter: Environment Agency.
For further information, visit the dedicated River Chew website at www.riverchew.co.uk.