River Wear

river in North East England

The Wear is a river in northeast England. It starts in Wearhead, County Durham and opens up into the North Sea at Sunderland.

Durham castle.jpg
The Wear flows past Durham Castle and Cathedral, beneath Framwellgate Bridge and over a weir.
River Wear.png
Map of the Wear
County•County Durham (historic and ceremonial) •Tyne and Wear
Major settlementsWolsinghamBishop AucklandWillingtonDurhamChester-le-StreetWashingtonSunderland
Physical characteristics
 - locationWearhead
 - coordinates54°45′00″N 2°13′21″W / 54.750°N 2.2225°W / 54.750; -2.2225
 - elevation340 m (1,120 ft)
 - locationNorth Sea
 - coordinates54°54′58″N 1°21′28″W / 54.916°N 1.3577°W / 54.916; -1.3577Coordinates: 54°54′58″N 1°21′28″W / 54.916°N 1.3577°W / 54.916; -1.3577
 - elevation0 m (0 ft)
Length96 km (60 mi)

Industrial pastEdit

Much of the River Wear shows the history of the Industrial Revolution. Its upper end runs through lead mining country, until this gives way to coal seams of the Durham coalfield for the rest of its length. As a result of limestone quarrying, lead mining and coal mining, the Wear valley was amongst the first places to see the development of railways. The Weardale Railway continues to run occasional services between Stanhope and Wolsingham.


The upland area of Upper Weardale has a flora which survives from the end of the last Ice Age. After the Ice Age, the Wear valley became thickly forested. During the Neolithic period and increasingly in the Bronze Age, the forests were progressively cleared for agriculture.


  • Natural Environment Research Council, Institute of Geological Sciences, 1971, "British Regional Geology: Northern England" Fourth Edition, HMSO, London.
  • Johnson, G.A.L. & Hickling, G. (eds.), 1972, "Geology of Durham County", Transactions of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne, Vol.41, No.1.
  • 'Wear River', "Encyclopaedia Britannica", 17th Edition, 1990.