River Leven, North Yorkshire

Coordinates: 54°30′31″N 1°20′12″W / 54.50861°N 1.33667°W / 54.50861; -1.33667
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

River Leven
A large expanse of water with trees on the banks
The mouth of the Leven.
Physical characteristics
 • locationKildale Moor, North Yorkshire
 • coordinates54°27′50″N 1°2′47″W / 54.46389°N 1.04639°W / 54.46389; -1.04639
 • elevation279 metres (915 ft)
 • location
River Tees at Yarm
 • coordinates
54°30′31″N 1°20′12″W / 54.50861°N 1.33667°W / 54.50861; -1.33667
 • elevation
16 metres (52 ft)
Length46.2 kilometres (28.7 mi)
Basin size196.3 square kilometres (75.8 sq mi)

The River Leven (pronounced /ˈlivən/) in North Yorkshire, England is a tributary of the River Tees. It rises on Warren Moor, part of Kildale Moor, in the North York Moors and flows to the north of the moors to join the River Tees at Yarm.


The source of the river is on Warren Moor, part of Kildale Moor, just south of the village of Kildale. The river flows east until it reaches the Whitby to Middlesbrough railway line where it turns around to flow west to Kildale. It then flows south-south-west through woodland to its confluence with Dundale Beck where it turns north-west through Low Easby and Little Ayton, before turning west and then south-west at Great Ayton. It runs parallel to the A173 to Stokesley. The river becomes increasingly meandering as it continues south-west past Skutterskelfe to Hutton Rudby and Rudby, where it turns north-west and then west again over Slape Stones waterfall. At Crathorne it turns north and then north-east as far as Middleton-on-Leven before passing under the A19 in a north-west direction. The final couple of miles are north and north-west between Ingleby Barwick and Yarm, before the river joins the River Tees.[1]

Water levels[edit]

Monitoring station[2] Station elevation Low water level High water level Record high level
Easby 101.3 m (332 ft) 0.11 m (0.36 ft) 0.4 m (1.3 ft) 1.25 m (4.1 ft)
Great Ayton 83 m (272 ft) 0.03 m (0.098 ft) 0.5 m (1.6 ft) 1.64 m (5.4 ft)
Stokesley 67 m (220 ft) 0.09 m (0.30 ft) 0.8 m (2.6 ft) 1.62 m (5.3 ft)
Foxton Bridge 56 m (184 ft) 0.21 m (0.69 ft) 1.5 m (4.9 ft) 2.63 m (8.6 ft)
  • Low and High Water Levels are an average figure.

In October 2022, a new flood defence project was opened on the river above Stokesley. When river levels are high, a new flood channel diverts the excess water around the town, meeting the Leven again, further downstream. The Environment Agency funded the project at a cost of £3.7 million.[3]


The river drains from the Cleveland Hills across a mixed geology of mostly Permian and Jurassic age bedrock of low permeability. Most of the deposits on top of the bedrock are boulder clay. There is mixed agriculture, with some moorland and forestry near the source.[4]

Natural history[edit]

Since a weir on the lower river was built during the Industrial Revolution, migratory and territorial fish and mammals had been missing from the river. In 2007, the Environment Agency built a fish bypass at the weir. In 2011, they announced the return of spawning salmon for the first time in 150 years.[5]

In 2020, it was confirmed that crayfish plague had infected the river after 40 dead white-clawed crayfish were found along a 700-metre (2,300 ft) stretch of river.[6]


In Stokesley, the river is crossed by Taylorson's Bridge, a 17th-century packhorse bridge,[7] which was once the only crossing in the town.[8] The Domesday Book records a water mill on the banks of the river in the town.[9] In Hutton Rudby, a plaque on a bridge marks the spot of a water mill that, amongst several uses, once made sailcloth.[10]





  1. ^ "Moors Knowledge". Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  2. ^ "River levels". Archived from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  3. ^ Chapman, Hannah, ed. (7 October 2022). "£3.7m flood defences are completed to protect town". Darlington & Stockton Times. No. 2022–40. p. 16. ISSN 2516-5348.
  4. ^ "Geology". Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  5. ^ "Salmon returns". Archived from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  6. ^ McCandlish, Sophie (22 August 2020). "River plague threat". The Yorkshire Post. Country Week. p. 13. ISSN 0963-1496.
  7. ^ Hinchliffe, Ernest (1994). A Guide to the Packhorse Bridges of England. Milnrow, Cumbria: Cicerone Press. p. 81. ISBN 1-85284-143-5.
  8. ^ "Local history". Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  9. ^ "Stokesley History". Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  10. ^ "Hutton Rudby History". Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2011.