Whiteadder Water

Coordinates: 55°45′35″N 2°02′42″W / 55.759731°N 2.044910°W / 55.759731; -2.044910
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Whiteadder Water
Whiteadder Water - geograph.org.uk - 167921.jpg
The headwaters of the Whiteadder (May 2006)
Whiteadder Water is located in Scotland
Whiteadder Water
Location of the confluence in Scotland
CountryEngland and Scotland, UK
RegionEast Lothian, Berwickshire and Northumberland
Physical characteristics
MouthConfluence with the River Tweed
 • coordinates
55°45′35″N 2°02′42″W / 55.759731°N 2.044910°W / 55.759731; -2.044910
Basin features
Grid referenceNT645655

Whiteadder Water /ˈhwʌtədər/[1] is a river in East Lothian and Berwickshire, Scotland. It also flows for a very short distance through Northumberland before joining the River Tweed. In common with the headwaters of the Biel Water it rises on the low hillside of Clints Dod (122 m or 400 ft) in the Lammermuir Hills, just ESE of Whitecastle Hillfort and 3 km (1.9 mi) south-east of the village of Garvald.


Adder may be derived from Brittonic *ador, *edir or Old English edre,[2] possible ancient hydronymic terms derived from an Indo-European formation meaning "a watercourse, a channel" (compare River Etherow).[2] The possibility of the name deriving from Old English ǣdre, "a vein" (Anglian ēdre),[2] or *ǣdre, meaning "quickly" is objected on the grounds that these would have maintained the long initial vowel in English and Scots.[2]

Also suggested is derivation from Gaelic fad dûr,[3] meaning "long water".[3] though the Gaelic was never spoked in the Scottish southeast.


The stream wends its way south east for approximately 5 km (3.1 mi) where it joins with the Faseny Water to form the Whiteadder Reservoir created in 1968, which supplies most of the towns of East Lothian (including, before its closure, the Cockenzie power station) and Berwickshire, with water.

From there, crossing into Berwickshire it runs alongside the B6355 road to Ellemford where it joins the Dye Water and further on at Abbey St. Bathans, the Monynut Water.

By this point having become a much larger body of flow, the Whiteadder meanders across Eastern parts of the Merse passing the communities of Preston, Chirnside, Allanton. Here at Allanton the Whiteadder joins with its antonymic counterpart the Blackadder Water. The river proceeds by Foulden, Edrington, and Paxton, it crosses into England, before joining the River Tweed, just north of East Ord, a suburb of Berwick-upon-Tweed.


For those with fishing permits, the Whiteadder provides recreational salmon and trout fishing. There are a number of angling clubs offering affordable access to this lovely river including the Whiteadder Angling Association (trout) and Berwick and District Angling Association (salmon, sea trout and wild brown trout). The Whiteadder is the home of the oldest Angling Club in the world verified by the Guinness Book of Records, Ellem Angling Club, established in 1829. Membership is by invitation only. The regalia of the club is on display at Paxton House in Berwickshire. It is also the site of Ninewells, the childhood home of David Hume.[4]

The lowermost section of the Whiteadder is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by virtue of its water crowfoot, salmon, lamprey and moulting mute swan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Whiteadder". Forvo. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d James, Alan G. "A Guide to the Place-Name Evidence - Guide to the Elements" (PDF). Scottish Place Name Society - The Brittonic Language in the Old North. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b Johnston, James B (1892). Place-names of Scotland. Edinburgh, Scotland: D Douglas. p. 162. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  4. ^ "David Hume - Life and Works". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 9 October 2011. Born in Edinburgh, Hume spent his childhood at Ninewells, the family's modest estate on the Whitadder River in the border lowlands near Berwick.