Lewis traces the course of the Severn from its source, past the village of Llandinam, the Roman station of Caer-Sws and Newtown from where it is possible to see Montgomery Castle, birthplace of George Herbert. (Herbert wrote religious poetry but you can imagine him looking at the river when he wrote in ‘The Storm’: ‘If as the windes and waters here below / Do flie and flow, / My sighs and tears as busy were above; Sure they would move / And much affect thee..’ )
From there, Lewis continues, the river passes Powis Castle and becomes navigable at Welshpool, flows by Llandrinio and the Breiddin Hills and then leaves Wales for the plain of Salop. He notes the striking landscape at Loton mansion, White Abbey and then describes the course of ‘Severn’s ambient wave’ through Shrewsbury. This memorable phrase comes from a poem by William Shenstone: ‘Admired Salopia! that with venial pride / Eyes her bright form in Severn's ambient wave, / Famed for her loyal cares in perils try'd, / Her daughters lovely, and her striplings brave.’
Near Shrewsbury is Meole Brook, a trout stream where the fisherman who taught Izaak Walton fly-fishing, Thomas Barker, grew up. Memorable buildings follow: Haughmond Abbey, Attingham Hall (designed by Athenian Stuart), the Roman remains at Wroxeter, Cound Hall, Leighton Hall and Buildwas Abbey. The industrial landscape of Coalbrook Dale comes next, followed by Apley with notable views to be had from the drive of Apley Terrace. Still in Shropshire, the Severn flows through Bridgenorth and past Quatford church on an eminence above the river. To Dudmaston woods, Alveley, Higley and then the river enters a small part of Staffordshire.
Flowing on into Worcestershire, at Stourport it receives the Stour. Lewis mentions Thorngrove villa, the seat of Lucien Bonaparte during his stay in England, and Hallow where the scientist Sir Charles Bell is buried. At Worcester there are picturesque views of the Malvern hills and more noteworthy views further downriver at Severn-Stoke church. Upton is ‘described in poetry by Mr Cottle “- Many stately trees, and many cots, / And villages, o’erspread the country round…’’'
The rocky scenery of Mythe is the next notable landscape feature on the river’s course. Then, after Tewkesbury, the Severn divides temporarily in two and forms the Isle of Alney, with Gloucester on the eastern channel. Having received another river, the Froome, it makes a horse-shoe bend with great views from Newnham to Cotswolds and Forest of Dean. Finally, Lewis brings his description to the estuary: Sharpness Point, Lydney, and the meeting place of the lower Avon, flowing from Bristol.
The Severn seen from Gloucestershire, 2008