River Teign

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River Teign
Sunset over River Teign - geograph.org.uk - 379534.jpg
The Teign estuary at sunset
Country England
County Devon
 - left Blackaton Brook, Fingle Brook, Reedy Brook, Sowton Brook, Bramble Brook, Kate Brook
 - right Beadon Brook, River Bovey, River Lemon, Aller Brook
Towns Teignmouth; Newton Abbot
 - elevation 528 m (1,732 ft)
 - coordinates 50°38′19″N 003°57′31″W / 50.63861°N 3.95861°W / 50.63861; -3.95861
Mouth Lyme Bay
 - location English Channel
 - elevation 0 m (0 ft)
 - coordinates 50°32′23″N 3°30′2″W / 50.53972°N 3.50056°W / 50.53972; -3.50056Coordinates: 50°32′23″N 3°30′2″W / 50.53972°N 3.50056°W / 50.53972; -3.50056
Length 50 km (31 mi)
Map showing the course and catchment of the Teign.

The River Teign /ˈtn/ or /ˈtn/ is a river in the county of Devon, England.

The river-name 'Teign' is first attested in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 739, where it appears as Teng. The name is pre-Roman, related to the Welsh taen meaning 'sprinkling', and means simply 'stream'.[1]

The Teign, along with many other major Devon rivers rises on Dartmoor. There are two separate sources, firstly, the longer North Teign, which rises at Teign Head and flows northeast where it is crossed by a clapper bridge near Teigncombe. The second is the South Teign, which rises near Grey Wethers before flowing through the Fernworthy Forest and a reservoir of the same name. The rivers combine at Leigh Bridge near Chagford to form the Teign, which leaves the moor on its eastern side, flowing beneath Castle Drogo in a steep-sided valley.

It then flows southwards at the east edge of the moor. The river lends its name to several places on its 50 km (31 mi) course to the English Channel, including Teigncombe, Drewsteignton, Teigngrace, Kingsteignton (at one time, one of England's largest villages), Bishopsteignton, Teignharvey, and the second largest settlement along its course, Teignmouth. The river becomes tidal at Newton Abbot and reaches the English Channel at Teignmouth. Its estuary is a large ria.


Until 1827 the most downstream bridge over the river was Teign Bridge at Teigngrace. When it was being rebuilt in 1815 it became apparent that at least four successive bridges had been erected at various times with or over the remains of the previous constructions. Mr. P. T. Taylor, who investigated the matter at the time, gave as his opinion that:

the last or upper work was done in the sixteenth century, and that the red bridge had been built on the salt marsh in the thirteenth century; since which time there has been an accumulation of soil to the depth of ten feet. He supposes the wooden bridge to be old as the Conquest, and the white stone bridge to have been Roman work.[2]


The Teign near Fingle Bridge and Castle Drogo, with a kayaker in the background

Ships and barges[edit]

The lower reaches of the river are navigable in to Newton Abbot, with wharves along the riverside, although now only to shallow draft boats (and those less than 2.9 metres high due to the Shaldon Bridge carrying the A379 over the river).[3] The estuary is widely used by a range of craft.

The tidal Whitelake Channel of the river connects it to two now disused short canals, both built to serve the ball clay trade in the area. The Stover Canal heads to Teigngrace (with the River Teign also supplying the header pond), and was built to serve both ball clay operations, but subsequently was the terminus of the Haytor Granite Tramway, carrying granite

The second connection is to the Hackney Canal, which was only 0.6 miles long, and connected the river to another ball clay quarry at Hackney Clay Cellars in Kingsteignton (now the site of a retail park), through what is now Newton Abbot Racecourse.

Personal watercraft[edit]

The river has been kayaked at least from Leigh Bridge (the confluence of the North and South Teign) at SX 6835 8765 to Steps Bridge at SX 8043 8835,[4] rated as grade 2 to 3. There is also a single high-grade, very technical drop. Near Dunsford there is a nature reserve on the east bank.[5]

Industrial use[edit]

During its operation from 1898 to 1974, the Newton Abbot power station drew its cooling water from the Teign, then discharging it back in to the River Lemon, which joins the Teign downstream.


The Teign estuary is one of the UK's premier rivers for flounder fishing.[citation needed] Other species include grey mullet in the estuary, brown trout further up the river and some salmon and sea trout throughout. Some coarse fish are caught in the lower reaches of Teign, although it is not officially a coarse fish river. This includes carp as far as the tidal marshes under the A380 at Newton Abbot.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p.462.
  2. ^ Jusserand, J.J. (1891). English Wayfaring Life in the Middle Ages. Pub. T. Fisher Unwin, London. P. 69. Available online at www.archive.org.
  3. ^ "Navigation and Safety". Teignmouth Harbour Commission. 
  4. ^ UK Rivers Guidebook - South West England
  5. ^ Dunsford Nature Reserve on Devon Wildlife Trust Website