River Avon, Bristol

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The River Avon (pronounced /ˈeɪvən/) is a river in the south west of England. To distinguish it from a number of other River Avons in Britain, this river is often also known as the Lower Avon or Bristol Avon. The name "Avon" is a cognate of the Welsh word afon, "river".

The Avon rises near Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, dividing into two before merging again and flowing through Wiltshire. In its lower reaches from Bath to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth near Bristol the river is navigable and known as the Avon Navigation.



The name "Avon" is a cognate of the Welsh word afon (pronounced [ˈavɔn]), "river", both being derived from the British language abona, "river". "River Avon", therefore, literally means "River River". Several other English and Scottish rivers also have the name "Avon".[1]

The County of Avon that existed from 1974 to 1996 covering the Avon valley, including Bristol and Bath, was named after the river.


The Avon rises near Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, between the villages of Old Sodbury and Acton Turville. Running a somewhat circular path, the river drains east and then south through Wiltshire. Its first main settlement is the village of Luckington, two miles (3 km) inside the Wiltshire border, and then on to Sherston. At Malmesbury it joins up with its first major tributary, the Tetbury Avon, which rises just north of Tetbury in Gloucestershire. This tributary is known locally as the Ingleburn, which in Old English means 'English river'. Here, the two rivers almost meet but their path is blocked by a rocky outcrop of the Cotswolds, almost creating an island for the ancient hilltop town of Malmesbury to sit on. Upstream of this confluence the river is sometimes referred to as the 'River Avon (Sherston Branch)' to distinguish it from the Tetbury Branch.[2]

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