In the beginning
The source of the river Dane is high on the Pennines at Axe Edge Moor, some 26km upstream from this point. At 550m above sea level, the moor receives over 1500mm of rain per year. Rainwater is held like a sponge in the peat bog moorland and is released slowly, keeping the Dane flowing all year round.
The river has an upper, middle and lower course. Each course displays different valley landforms and channel characteristics. Upstream from this site the Dane includes upper course characteristics, such as waterfalls, gorges, V-shaped valleys and interlocking spurs.
The waterfall at Three Shires Head
As the river Dane flows out from the Pennine hills it crosses over sandstone, a resistant rock, which is overlying less resistant shale, which the powerful river flow has eroded faster to form a waterfall.
V shape valleys and Interlocking spurs
In the upper course, the main work of the river is to erode downwards on the bed rather than the banks. This is known as vertical erosion. This process together with weathering of the valley sides creates the V shape valleys we can see on Axe Edge Moor near Allgreave. The upper course of the river also snakes creating spurs of higher land on alternate sides of the valley called interlocking spurs.
The 4m high Havannah Weir was constructed in the 1790’s to power an industrial complex here. The weir allowed the speed of flow of the river to increase at this point, powering mills before the industrial revolution and now, to drive the Archimedes screw that generates electricity.
The Dane’s power comes from the volume of water and the speed of its flow. Tributaries upstream in the Dane’s catchment (see map) increases the volume of water to the hydro scheme. The river’s speed depends on the efficiency of its flow and the gradient of the channel. Where the channel is steep, such as at waterfalls, rapids and weirs, it generally flows faster. Where the water in the channel has more contact with the bed and the banks, or the river has turbulent flow, friction will create a slower flow.
Downstream from Havannah, the middle course of the river has a wider valley and has a flat floodplain. The river channel is wider, less steep and the river meanders. There are river cliffs and slip-off slopes either side of the bends. In its lower course, the Dane joins the river Weaver at Northwich, which then joins the Mersey before discharging into the Irish Sea.
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