The River Tyne is formed by the confluence of the Rivers North and South Tyne, which meet near Hexham at Warden Rock.
The North Tyne is formed from the confluence of the Kielder and Deadwater Burns which rise on the Scottish Boarders. The burns meet just north of, and then flow into Bakethin Reservoir, which in turn flows into Kielder Water Reservoir, Europe’s largest manmade water body. Kielder Water is also fed by a number of other burns, notable the Lewis Burn which drains a large area on the western side of the reservoir. Kielder Water is surrounded by Kielder forest, a primarily of coniferous woodland and the largest planted forest in Europe. The upper reaches of the catchment consists of a mixture of heather, rough grasslands and blanket bog. Flow in the North Tyne is maintained by regulated releases from Kielder Water, and flows on into more productive agricultural land with pasture on the floodplain and rough grazing on higher ground. The nature of this catchment limits the farming to livestock rearing, primarily sheep and herds of suckler cows, and is sparsely populated. The North Tyne has many tributaries including The River Rede and numerous burns of varying sizes.
The South Tyne rises on Alston Moor in Cumbria which lies in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The area is characterised by expansive moorland with large areas of blanket bog in the upper reaches with traditional hay meadows on the lower valley slopes and some ancient woodland. The area is rich in minerals and as such has been heavily influenced by mining, particularly for lead. Downstream, traditional pasture gives way to more mixed and arable farming. Arable agriculture dominates the floodplain whilst semi-improved pasture and mixed woodland is found on the slopes. The South Tyne has a number of tributaries including the River Allen and River Nent and numerous burns.
Once the two rivers meet to form the River Tyne, the flow continues generally eastwards to meet the North Sea at Tynemouth. Along this section of the river the floodplain is dominated by large arable fields and intensively grazed pasture. We abstract for drinking water supply just to the east of Ovingham but water from the Tyne can also be sent to our more southern operating area via the Tyne-Tees transfer system.
The Whittle Dene reservoir system also sits within the River Tyne catchment and can supply both Whittle Dene and Horsley Water Treatment Works. It consists of a series of reservoirs linked by an aqueduct system of pipes, tunnels and open channels.
River water quality
Given the agricultural nature of much of the Tyne catchment there is a risk of diffuse water pollution from agriculture (DWPA). Historically, a number of pesticides have been found in the raw water at our Horsley and Whittle Dene Water Treatment Works, including metaldehyde, the active ingredient in slug pellets. Removing these substances requires additional chemicals and energy, and can therefore increase the cost of treating drinking water.
We work with all relevant stakeholders in the catchment, including Tyne Rivers Trust, Natural England, the Environment Agency, local farmers and landowners, with the aim of reducing the amount of pesticide, nitrate, phosphate and sediment running off the land and into the river.
Events, training and advice
We offer free training, advice and one to one farm visits on a range of topics, such as fertiliser and pesticide handling and management, sprayer and pellet spreader calibration, biobed installations and agri-environment schemes.
Your catchment advisor
Hazel Thompson is Northumbrian Water’s Catchment Advisor. Hazel comes from a farming family and grew up on a dairy farm near Guisborough, Cleveland. She has an MSc in Environmental Science and Management from The University of York, is FACTS qualified, and has experience working at Natural England in the Humber Land Management Team.