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Rivers

Scottish rivers and burns can be truly wild. Even in our cities they’re a reminder of the power of nature.

Our geological history has shaped our modern river systems, with the current drainage pattern first set more than 23 million years ago. Short, steep rivers descend the mountains of the west coast, while longer, larger rivers drain the eastern side of Scotland’s watershed.

A river’s ‘work’ is to transport sediment and water. The volume and speed of the water flowing down our rivers and burns controls what rocks, stones and silt they can transport. Moderate river flows can carry smaller, lighter grains of clay and silt. Strong flows are needed to move coarse sands, gravels, cobbles or boulders.

From fast and furious steeply flowing burns to wide meandering rivers, our great range of rivers and burns is fascinating. Such a variety of river types provides Scotland with a great diversity of river habitats and landscapes.