River Chew - A Somerset Stream
"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Source And Upper Chew
THE RIVER CHEW rises at Chew Head in Chewton Mendip, Somerset, emerging from the hillside in Dumpers Lane. The spring - along with a smaller one located a few yards to the south - is supplied by water draining from Chew Down to the west of Chilcompton.

The source of the River Chew at Chewton Mendip, Somerset These two outlets create a small brook that flows west underneath the main A37 Bristol to Wells road towards Litton via a small settlement at Ford. The river here is fast flowing and shallow, crossed by numerous small bridges and fords. Occasionally, the river disappears underground through culverts and pipes, re-emerging further down the hill.

At Litton the River Chew turns north to feed two medium sized Bristol Water reservoirs - Upper and Lower Litton - which have supplied drinking water to the region for over a century. The top lake is very deep and covers an area of 11 acres, while the lower water is 7 acres in size and much shallower. A large dam and spillway separates the two lakes, creating a dramatic landscape. Litton Reservoir is regularly stocked with Trout and features two angling lodges and boats which are available for hire.

Sunset at Lower Litton Reservoir Once clear of Lower Litton dam and the village of Sherborne, the Chew becomes a modest brook once again, winding its way to the villages of Coley and South Widcombe boosted along its journey by three small tributaries.

Here the valley is wider and the flow less frantic. There are deeper pools throughout this stretch where flood waters have carved out the river bed, creating ideal conditions for fly fishing.

The stream then meanders north westwards through lush pasture for another mile, further bolstered by another large Mendip-fed tributary rising in the hills above East Harptree near Priddy.

The upper River Chew ends its first phase as it enters Herriots Pool, an Avon Wildlife Trust nature reserve, which in turn feeds the South West's largest reservoir - Chew Valley Lake.

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Related Articles, Maps & Further Reading
The source of the River Chew at Chewton Mendip
The source of the River Chew
at Chewton Mendip

The second spring, Chewton Mendip
The second spring,
Chewton Mendip

The young River Chew
The young River Chew

The River Chew, Litton
The River Chew, Litton

Upper Litton Reservoir
Upper Litton Reservoir

The upper dam, Litton Reservoir
The upper dam,
Litton Reservoir

Upper Reservoir spillway, Litton
Upper Reservoir
spillway, Litton

The young River Chew, South Widcombe
The young River Chew,
South Widcombe

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