From the Scottish Highlands to the South Coast of England and the Welsh coast to the Norfolk wetlands, these are the longest rivers in the UK!
Do you know how many rivers there are in the UK? You might be surprised to hear there are almost 1,500! The United Kingdom is covered with a vast network of rivers that feed our lakes, reservoirs and canals. They have an important role in contributing to our wetlands and estuaries.
Which are the widest, deepest or longest rivers in the UK? And where can you find them? You’re about to find out! From the River Severn to the Thames, Dee and Tees, here are the the longest rivers in the UK.
32 Longest Rivers In The UK
1: River Severn
The River Severn rises in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid Wales, and discharges into the Bristol Channel. At 220 miles, it is the longest and also the widest river in the UK. The Severn River also has the UK river’s fastest flow rate, and largest tidal bore!
2: River Thames
The second of the longest rivers in the UK is the Thames River, which is 215 miles long. Parts of the Thames are up to 20 metres deep, making it the deepest river in the UK. It also tops the list of the most famous rivers in England, as it flows through London.
3: River Trent
The Trent River (185 miles) is the next of the biggest rivers in the UK. It flows from Staffordshire in the Midlands to Grimsby, where it meets the River Ouse and forms the Humber Estuary. The Trent is said to mark the boundary between the midlands and the north of England.
4: River Wye
Next in the longest rivers in the United Kingdom is the Wye River. It is 155 miles long and forms the boundary between England and Wales. The Wye Valley is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If you’re planning a trip to this area, don’t miss our guide to the best days out in Herefordshire.
5: The Great Ouse River
Rounding off the top 5 longest rivers in the UK s the Great Ouse. There are actually several rivers in the UK named Ouse, but at 143 miles long, the Great Ouse is the longest. The Great Ouse runs through Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk in the East of England. There are wild otters living on the Great Ouse, and seals have been spotted upstream as far as Bedford!
6: River Ure / River Ouse
Another of the longest rivers in the UK is the River Ure in North Yorkshire. Confusingly, the river is known as the River Ure for 74 miles, before the name changes to the River Ouse. The river empties into the Humber Estuary, and has a total length of 129 miles.
7: River Tay
At 120 miles, the River Tay is Scotland’s longest river. It starts in Western Scotland and flows east to reach the Firth of Tay, just south of Dundee. If you’re measuring by the amount of water discharged into the sea, then at 100 cubic metres per second, this is the largest of the rivers in Britain!
8: River Clyde
The River Clyde (109 miles) is the second longest river in Scotland, and one of the major rivers of the UK. It runs through Glasgow, and empties into the Firth of Clyde. Historically, the Clyde River and Firth have been a key centre for British shipbuilding.
9: River Spey
The Spey River (107 miles) rises in Scotland’s Highlands at over 300 metres (1,000 feet). This long river crosses Loch Insh to reach Aviemore, and then flows to Moray Firth before finally reaching the sea near Buckie. The Spey is an important river for salmon fishing and whisky production.
10: River Nene
Next in our list of the longest rivers in the UK is the 105-mile-long River Nene. The Nene River starts in Northamptonshire, and forms the border between Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. The River Nene in Northampton played a key part in the industrial revolution, and was home to England’s first water powered cotton spinning mill.
11: River Tweed and River Avon
The River Tweed, or Tweed Water, flows between Scotland and the North of England. At 96 miles long, it is one of the biggest rivers in the UK and famous for its salmon fishing. There are several rivers named the Avon, but the longest (also 96 miles) is the River Avon in Warwickshire, central England.
13: River Aire
The River Aire is a major river in Yorkshire, England. If you include the part of the river below Leeds, used as the Aire and Calder Navigation canal, it is 92 miles long. It’s possible to walk along the river banks, where you might be lucky enough to see kingfishers, and perhaps even otters or water voles.
14: River Eden
Another of the longest rivers in the UK is the 90-mile-long Eden River. It rises in the Yorkshire Dales, and you’ll find its highest waterfall, Hellgill Force, just over the border with Cumbria. The Eden flows through Carlisle, and is crossed by Hadrian’s wall, before it reaches the sea at Solway Firth.
15: River Dee
Did you know there are five rivers in the UK called Dee! This River Dee (87 miles) rises in the Scottish Cairngorm mountains and flows through Aberdeenshire. It passes through the scenic area of Deeside, which is home to Balmoral Castle. The Dee River is one of the world’s most famous salmon fishing rivers.
16: River Tees
At 85 miles, the River Tees in the North Pennines is another of the UK’s longest rivers. It’s also home to one of the highest waterfalls in the UK! Water from the Tees plunges 21 metres (70 feet) over a precipice to form the dramatic ‘High Force’ waterfall.
17: River Witham
Although it is not one of the most famous rivers in the UK, at 82 miles, the Witham River is one of the longest rivers in Britain. It is almost entirely in the county of Lincolnshire in the East of England. In ancient times, the Witham was known as the ‘Grant Avon’, or ‘Divine Stream’.
18: River Teme and River Don
Both the River Teme on the English / Welsh border and the River Don in North East Scotland are 81 miles long. The Teme River has been a site of special scientific interest since 1996. The Don River is a good river for fishing salmon, brown trout and sea trout.
20: River Usk
At 78 miles long, the Usk is the longest river in Wales. It rises in the Black Mountains and flows north into Usk Reservoir before joining the Bristol Channel near Newport. Most of the Usk River is a conservation area due to its abundant wildlife.
21: River Teifi
The River Teifi in Welsh (Tivy in its anglicised form) is the second longest river in Wales. For most of its 76-mile course, it forms the border between the counties of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. Rich with salmon and wild trout, the river reaches the sea at Cardigan.
22: River Tywi, River Ribble, and River Bristol Avon
It’s a three-way tie for the next spot on the list of the longest rivers in the UK! The River Tywi (or River Towy) in Wales, the River Ribble in the North West of England, and the River Bristol Avon, are all 75 miles long. The spot where the Ribble meets the smaller Hodder was where the famous ‘Mitton Hoard’ of 11 silver coins from the 1420s were discovered.
25: River Tyne and River Swale
Next on the list of the longest rivers in England are the River Tyne in Northumberland and the River Swale in Yorkshire. Both are 73 miles long. The Swale River is the fastest flowing river in England, and can rise 3 metres in 20 minutes!
27: River Derwent
Confusingly, there are several rivers named Derwent. The longest is the 72-mile Derwent River that flows through Yorkshire. This river forms wetlands, many of which are designated as important nature conservation sites.
28: River Nith
The Nith River is in South West Scotland is 71 miles long. It flows southeast through Dumfries and Galloway before emptying into the Solway Firth. It could be argued that the Nith is 63 miles long, but at low tide, the sea goes out so far that the river becomes 8 miles longer!
29: River Medway and River Dee
The River Medway in the South East of England flows from East Sussex and through Kent to the Thames Estuary. This Dee River (not to be confused with others of the same name!) rises in Snowdonia and forms part of the border between England and Wales. Both are 70 miles long.
31: River Don and River Mersey
Completing our list of the UK’s longest rivers is another tie! The River Don in South Yorkshire and the River Mersey in the North West of England are both 69 miles long. The River Don is known for its salmon fishing, whilst the River Mersey is closely associated with the history and culture of the City of Liverpool.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the longest rivers in the UK. If you’re planning a trip around the country, no doubt you’ll tick a few of these off on your route!
If you’re looking for other interesting facts about the UK, don’t miss these guides:
- 15 Largest Lakes In The UK
- Most Common Birds In The UK
- 13 Biggest Forests in England You Need to Visit
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