'Dangerous' River Severn warning given to children

The River Severn near Fretherne, taken by Chris Witts The Severn has strong and unpredictable currents

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Parents are being urged to warn their children about the dangers of playing near the River Severn.

A police warning has been sounded after officers were called to a 'den' found in an "extremely dangerous location" near Fretherne, Gloucestershire.

The hideout, which appeared to be made from pallets and boulders, was reported to police by a concerned resident.

Other agencies have echoed the warning, saying the Severn is one of the most dangerous rivers in Britain.

PC Kelly Akers said the 'den' had been built in "an extremely dangerous location".

"We don't want to see any young people being injured, or worse, and as such we would urge parents to remind their children about the dangers of playing in or near the river," she said.

'Deceptively cold'

Shaun Brown, the Canal and River Trust's waterways supervisor for the River Severn, said: "The currents are very strong, unpredictable and the water is often very deep compared to other rivers.

Start Quote

Anyone in that river when the tide comes in, there's no way you would get out”

End Quote Chris Witts

"It can also be deceptively cold and there may be objects under the water that are hazardous."

That view is shared by Geoff Dawe, from the Severn Area Rescue Association, who said the speed of the tide was "quite phenomenal".

"You could get swept away very quickly and the chance of survival is very slim. "

Chris Witts, from Gloucester, has been studying the river for 55 years and believes it is the most dangerous river in Britain.

"I talk to children at their school, or at the Waterways Museum at Gloucester Docks, and I always warn them of the dangers of the river," he said.

"It has the second highest rise and fall of tide in the world, so you can imagine the speed that tide comes in - it is unbelievable.

"The tide comes in in the matter of an hour and it fills that river up. Anyone in that river when the tide comes in, there's no way you would get out."

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