River Taw

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The River Taw rises at Taw Head, a spring on the central northern flanks of Dartmoor. It reaches the Bristol Channel 72 km (45 miles) away on the north coast of Devon at a joint estuary mouth which it shares with the River Torridge.


As it heads north, the stream gives its name to the village of South Tawton and to the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes' adopted home town of North Tawton. The river picks up headwaters from a number of tributaries, including the Lapford Yeo, the Little Dart River and the River Mole, which rises on Devon's other upland area, Exmoor. The river increases in size and becomes a recreational trout river before becoming tidal at Newbridge, approximately 19 km (12 miles) from the sea. This journey passes through rural Devon, the river being surrounded by pasture and wooded valley sides.

Tidal section

The river shares the large tidal ranges of the Bristol Channel and daily changes of water depth of 6m or more are common near its mouth. This effect can also be seen in changes to the tidal-estuarine basin. Over a length of 8 km, the river's channel widens from approximately 20m at Newbridge to 750m by Fremington.

At Barnstaple the Taw is joined by the Barnstaple Yeo, which is tidal for a short distance inland. Seawards of Fremington, the River Caen joins the river on its north bank. This tributary was made navigable as the Braunton Canal in the early 19th century.

River legacy

The Taw also gives its name to......
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