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The River Chew is a small river in Englandmarker. It merges with the River Avon after forming the Chew Valleymarker.

The spring from which the Chew rises is just upstream from Chewton Mendipmarker. The river flows North West from Chewton Mendip through Littonmarker, Chew Valley Lakemarker, Chew Stokemarker, Chew Magnamarker and Stanton Drewmarker. The river passes under the A37 at Pensfordmarker almost making the old church and pub garden into an island. The river then flows through the villages of Publowmarker, Woollardmarker, Compton Dandomarker and Chewton Keynshammarker before joining the River Avon at Keynshammarker. For much of the Chew's route the Two Rivers Way footpath is alongside, the same route for part of its length is also part of the Monarch's Way long distance footpath. In total the Chew flows for some through the North Somerset countryside.

The name 'Chew'

The name 'Chew' has Celtic origins, but its exact meaning isn't certain, however there have been several explanations, including "winding water", the EW being a variant of the French EAU meaning water. The word CHEWER is a western dialect for a narrow passage and CHARE is Old English for turning. Many believe that the name CHEW began in Normandy as CHEUX, and came to England with the Norman Conquest during the 11th century.

However, some people agree with Ekwall’s interpretation that it is derived from the Welsh "cyw" meaning "the young of an animal, or chicken", so that "afon Cyw" would have been "the river of the chickens".

Other possible explanations suggest it comes from the Old English word cēo ‘fish gill’, used in the transferred sense of a ravine, in a similar way to Old Norse gil, or possibly a derogatory nickname from Middle English chowe ‘chough’, Old English cēo, a bird closely related to the crow and the jackdaw, notorious for its chattering and thieving. According to Robinson it is named after the Viking war god Tiw.

Roman use

"Pigs" (ingots) of lead from the Charterhouse Roman Town on the Mendips were brought to the river to be transported to Sea Millsmarker on the Avon for transshipment overseas.

Floods of 1968

The river suffered a major flood in 1968 with serious damage to towns and villages along its route, including sweeping away the bridge at Pensfordmarker.

On 10-11 July a storm brought heavy rainfall to the Valley, with falling in 18 hours on Chew Stoke, double the areas average rainfall for the whole of July.


Fishing rights for the Millground and Chewton sections of the river are owned by Keynsham Angling Club. The Mill Ground stretch of the River Chew consists of the six left-bank fields (looking downstream) from Chewton Place at Chewton Keynsham to the Albert Mill, Keynshammarker. The water is home to a good stock of sizeable Chub, Roach, European perch and Rudd, along with good numbers of Gudgeon, Dace and Trout. In the Chewton section waters are much more 'wild' than the Mill Ground, with overhanging trees and fast-flowing runs, leading to deeper eddies and pools. Not all swims are fishable and some will need hacking out before angling, but this is a classic roving river. Trout, Grayling and Chub lurk in the shady, meandering stream, along with a good showing of Dace, Roach and Eel.

Any Flood alerts for this river are available from the Environment Agency River Chew from Chewstoke to Keynsham page


External links

For further information, visit the dedicated River Chew website at


File:Pensford bridge.JPG|Bridge at Pensfordmarker.File:Publow bridge.JPG|Bridge at Publowmarker.File:Bridge at stanton drew.JPG|Bridge at Stanton Drewmarker.

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