The beautiful River Teme flows eastwards from its source to the River Severn just south of Worcester. On its way it passes through just three towns: Knighton, Ludlow and Tenbury Wells.
This remote and exceptionally beautiful river valley is rich in wildlife, history and heritage. Today it is a tranquil area to explore but it has not always been so. Throughout history the river has been exploited for industry and commerce. Its valley formed a major access corridor and thoroughfare for traded goods into the heart of mid-Wales. The upland rim and valley bottom have attracted settlement since at least 5000 BC. Long before the Norman Conquest opposing cultures met and clashed. In the middle ages mighty Marcher Lords built castles and ruled with a rod of iron.
The river Teme is one of the fastest flowing rivers in Europe. Turbulent and given to flooding in bad weather the Teme spends much of its time quietly confirming its course over the sandstones, mudstones, and hard limestones of the valley floor. It is a site of special scientific interest along its entire length. Otter populations are increasing and many species of fish live in its waters. The large number of brown trout indicate the overall quality of the water. The river is botanically rich with aquatic plants. On the its banks purple and yellow loosetrife and wood club rush grow and kingfishers, sand martins, common sandpipers, dippers and grey wagtails look for food.
Borderlands and crossing places
Collecting water from the rivers that run down from the Clun Forest, the Teme acts first as the border between England and Wales and then between the South Shropshire Hills - designated an area of outstanding natural beauty and the hills of north Herefordshire. The hilltops are open and exposed, the valley sides steep and wooded and the valley bottom flat and farmed intensively.
The river that changed its course
Before the last ice age the river flowed south from Leintwardine towards the river Wye. The melting waters found their way blocked and were forced to cut a new route over what is now Downton Gorge - it flowed on towards Ludlow.
Turning south and skirting Clee Hill the river flows through an area where three counties meet. The valley is planted with hops and bush orchards clothe the lower slopes of the valley sides.
On into Worcestershire; and travelling south. The steep slopes that fall from the gently rolling plain above are wooded and dissected by streams and dingles. The valley bottoms are narrow but rich and fertile. Traditional hay meadows are giving way to more intensive farming but the standard orchards once so characteristic of the lower hillsides of the valley can still be seen south of Tenbury Wells.
Osebury rock at Knightwick forces the river once more to change its course. Views of the Malvern Hills and the lower slopes of the Suckley Hills (all part of the ANOB) remain in sight long after the river has started its trek across the Severn Vale to join the River Severn.
Get the most from your visit
Whenever possible leave the car behind. Take a walk - even a little one. Enjoy the fresh county air. Sit on a churchyard seat and enjoy the view. Get close to nature. Smell the blossom in springtime. Look for, but do not pick or damage, flowers, grasses, ferns, mosses, and lichens. Take binoculars and a magnifying glass, your camera and your paints. Listen to the sound of the birds and the wind whistling in the trees. Watch it ripple through the corn. Taste and enjoy the fresh produce of the countryside.
Train: Contact 08457 48 49 50
Bus: Contact the local Tourist Information Centres
Worcester Tourist Information Centre: 01905 726311
Tenbury Wells Tourist Information Centre: 01584 810136
Ludlow Tourist Information Centre: 01584 875053
The Offas Dyke Centre Knighton: 01547 528753
Many churches have a file of local information
The Mortimer Country Consortium: 01547 540441