River Belah

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River Belah
River Belah from Oxendale Bridge - geograph.org.uk - 136558.jpg
River Belah from Oxenthwaite Bridge
EtymologyOld English - Roaring River
Physical characteristics
 - locationMillstone Rigg
MouthBlands Wath
 - location
Great Musgrave
Length13.3 mi (21.4 km)
Basin size17 sq mi (44 km2)
Basin features
River systemRiver Eden

The River Belah is a river in the county of Cumbria in England. Its name derives from the Old English word Belge and means the "Roaring River".[1]

The Belah is formed by the confluence of several small streams or sikes draining most of north and south Stainmore close to the border with County Durham and Yorkshire. It flows north west off the hillside as Bleaberry Beck and tumbles over many waterfalls before meeting the Stow Gill Becks and becoming the Belah.[2] It then flows in a north westerly direction past Oxenthwaite where the river is swollen by Argill Beck at Field Head and the Powbrand Beck near Thorney Scale. Having washed by Brough Sowerby, the Belah combines its waters with those of the River Eden near to the village of Great Musgrave.[3]

The Stainmore Railway crossed the river on the huge iron-girder lattice Belah Viaduct, before it was demolished in 1964. It was the highest bridge in England,[note 1] at 196 feet (60 m) high.[4]


The Belah is designated as having a moderate ecological status by the environment agency.[5] The flow of the river has been sped up by dredging and widening and the river is prone to siltation and bank erosion.[6]


  1. ^ The Crumlin Viaduct in Wales was a few feet taller, at 200 feet (61 m)


  1. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1960). The concise Oxford dictionary of English place-names (4 ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 35. ISBN 0-19-869103-3.
  2. ^ "Belah (Upper)". environment.data.gov.uk. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Belah (Lower)". environment.data.gov.uk. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Engineering Timelines - Belah Viaduct, site of". www.engineering-timelines.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  5. ^ "The Eden catchment: network, status and pressures" (PDF). northsearegion.eu. Environment Agency. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  6. ^ Cooper, David M; Naden, Pamela; Smith, Barnaby; Gannon, Beate (2003). "Siltation in Rivers 2: A Minimum Monitoring Strategy for Two cSAC Rivers" (PDF). national archives.gov.uk. English Nature. p. 57. Archived from the original on 12 June 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)

Coordinates: 54°30′23″N 2°21′23″W / 54.50639°N 2.35639°W / 54.50639; -2.35639