River Blyth, Suffolk

The River Blyth is a river in east Suffolk, England. Its source is near Laxfield[1] and it reaches a tidal estuary between Southwold and Walberswick on the North Sea coast.[2]

River Blyth - geograph.org.uk - 101018
The River Blyth near Wenhaston.
River Blyth, Suffolk is located in Suffolk
River Blyth, Suffolk
Location of the river mouth within Suffolk
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ coordinates52°17′58″N 1°20′23″E / 52.2995°N 1.3398°E
 ⁃ elevation58 m (190 ft)
MouthNorth Sea near Walberswick
 ⁃ coordinates
52°18′48″N 1°40′30″E / 52.3133°N 1.675°ECoordinates: 52°18′48″N 1°40′30″E / 52.3133°N 1.675°E
 ⁃ elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length30.5 km (19.0 mi)


The course of the river passes through agricultural land between Laxfield and Halesworth, flowing through the estate of Heveningham Hall and the village of Walpole before being crossed by the A144 road and the East Suffolk Line to the south of Halesworth. East of Halesworth the river is canalised in places and has a clear flood plain with land being used as grazing marsh. At Blythburgh it is crossed by the A12 trunk road before entering the estuarine section of the river.

The estuary mouth forms the main harbour area of Southwold and is still an active fishing harbour. The estuary is central to the plot of Peter Greenaway's film Drowning by Numbers, being the scene of the final drowning. The river can be crossed by pedestrians by a public footbridge called the Bailey Bridge about a mile upstream from the sea or by the Walberswick rowing boat ferry.


The Blyth Navigation canal was opened in 1761 running 7 miles (11 km) from Halesworth to the Blyth estuary, leading to the canalisation of the river east of Halesworth. It was insolvent by 1884, partly due to attempts to reclaim saltings at Blythburgh, which resulted in the estuary silting up and partly due to the opening of the Southwold Railway in 1879. The navigation was used sporadically until 1911, and was not formally abandoned until 1934.


The river gives its name to the settlements of Blyford, indicating a formerly important ford over the river, and Blythburgh. The river's name itself comes from an Old English word blithe meaning "gentle or pleasant".[3]


  1. ^ "blythweb.co.uk - Source". Archived from the original on 16 April 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  2. ^ "blythburgh.net - Tidal". Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  3. ^ A. D. Mills. A Dictionary of British Place Names. Oxford University Press.

Not to be confused with: Blyth Haven (south end of the town of Southwold), and Blythburgh, on the same river, further east, halfway between Halesworth and Southwold.Blyford (formerly known as Blythford) is a village and civil parish in the Waveney district of Suffolk, England, about 3 miles (5 km) east of Halesworth and separated from Wenhaston by the River Blyth, Suffolk to the south. It is in the civil parish of Sotherton.

Population in 1801 was 163 and by 1840 had risen to 223. In 1861 the population was 193.In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Blyford like this:

Blyford, formerly Blythford, is a parish in Blything district, Suffolk; on the river Blythe, 2½ miles E by S of Halesworth r. station. Post Town, Halesworth. Acres, 947. Real property, £1,548. Pop., 193. Houses, 41. The living is a donative in the diocese of Norwich. Value, not reported. Patron, the Rev. Jeremy Day. The church, made of mainly flint, has two Norman doors and a perpendicular English tower, but is mainly decorated English.

On 9 August 2010, BBC Radio Suffolk reported at the 14th/15th century thatched Queen's Head Inn. The inn sign features St Etheldreda as the Queen. Chickens are located at the inn. The thatched roof was replaced in 1988 after a fire.

The church is just across the road from the inn with rumours of a smugglers' passage being located there.

The church was built in 1088, with a 13th-century font added.

River Blyth

River Blyth is the name of several rivers in England.

River Blyth, Northumberland

River Blyth, Suffolk

Shield of Suffolk Rivers and watercourses of Suffolk


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