About The River


Much of the River Wear is associated with the history of the Industrial Revolution. The upper reaches run through ex-lead-mining country whilst the middle and lower reaches pass through the reclaimed sites of the coalfields of Durham County. The Western catchment area of the Wear is now largely rural and is dominated by agricultural industry such as sheep farming and Grouse moors.

Much of the length of the Wear Valley, as a result of limestone and dolerite quarrying, and mining for lead and coal, was one of the first places to see the development of railways. The Beecham era saw the closure of many of the local lines but recently the Wear Valley Railway has been re-opened to provide a local transport link and a tourist attraction. Nowadays most of the area is of outstanding beauty and little remains of the industrial past.

For anglers, the fish populations of the Wear and its tributaries are generally of a high quality, with a good distribution of Trout and Migratory Fish throughout its length and Coarse Fish in the middle and lower reaches. Declared Sea Trout catches have followed a similar pattern to Salmon, with the greatest numbers being seen in the 21st. Century.

River Facts and Figures

The Wear is the smallest of the North East's three major rivers, being approximately 100km. from source to sea. Rising in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the West it flows Eastwards to the estuary in the City of Sunderland. From Stanhope in the Upper Reach, to Bishop Auckland in the Middle Reach, it is followed by the Weardale Railway. Bishop Auckland is the site of Auckland Castle, the official home of the Bishop of Durham. A short distance downstream, below the confluence with the R.Gaunless, can be found Binchester Roman Fort. Here you can see the remains of an impressive Roman Bathhouse with under-floor heating! About ten miles further downstream, after passing under the A167, the Wear is joined by another major tributary, the R. Browney. The next site of interest is Durham City, a U.N. World Heritage Site and home to Durham Cathedral and Durham University. From here the River becomes more sedate as it enters the Lower Reach. At Chester le Street it is overlooked by the Lambton Estate, Lumley Castle and The Riverside, home of Durham County Cricket Club.

Below Chester le Street the river becomes tidal for several miles and eventually enters the North Sea after passing between Roker Pier and South Pier at Sunderland.

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Who looks after the river

The Wear Rivers Trust was created in January 2009, through the merger of The River Wear Environmental Trust and The Weardale Environmental Trust, to further advance the work of these two organisations.

The Trust is a member of the Association of River Trusts and works with the local community throughout the catchment of the Wear to protect, restore and improve the River and its tributaries. A key aim of the Trust is to advance the education of the public, and all statutory and voluntary organisations, on the understanding of rivers, including their fauna, flora, economic and social activity and the need for conservation, restoration and improvement of rivers, streams and stillwaters.

Local angling clubs, riparian owners and the Environment Agency are also involved in ensuring that the Wear continues to provide excellent fishing for all major species and encouraging the public to partake in responsible angling in this wonderful river.