Underground rivers are fascinating and very beautiful. They are all around the us, but having the most distinguishable quality of being located underground, we rarely know or think about that fact. Some underground rivers are so large that they are actually navigatable.
There are two main types of underground river systems:
The natural ones, logically, are those that have been created through the natural processes of formation of the planet, while the artificial ones have been created for a variety of purposes by men. Natural underground rivers are often to be found in Central Europe, while Western Europe and England in particular has probably the most artificial underground rivers in the world.
When looking at the list of famous underground rivers in Europe, we will see that there are several countries that stand out on there:
- Czech Republic
Let’s have a look at some of the most notable names and locations:
- Cross Cave, which is also referred to as the Cold Cave under Cross Mountain is to be found in the Loz Valley in Slovenia. In addition to everything else that is interesting about the cave is the fact that it has over 25 underground lakes that most of the time are connected via Exploration of the cave, especially the so called Variegated Passage usually requires boats in order to be explored.
- Punkva river is often mentioned when talking about underground rivers in Czech Republic. It is located in South Moravia and runs for some 29 kilometers. It originates in the Moravian Karst, runs through Macocha Gorge and goes underground in the Punkva Caves. Most of the flow of the Punkva River is underground which makes it one of the longest and most distinguished underground rivers in the country.
- Bievre in France has its source in Guyancourt, département Yvelines and flows to Paris where is flows into the Seine. Due to the urbanization of the country’s capital the last five kilometers are underground, making the Bievre the perfect example of an artificial underground river. One thing that we should point out is that in addition to covering the river, the Bievre had its course changed by the citizens of Paris in order to accommodate the city’s need for irrigation for agricultural purposes, as well as for collecting rain water.
- The largest subterranean river in London is the River Fleet. It starts in Hampstead Heath, descends via sewers underground and runs under Camden Town. It is four kilometers from the ponds in Hampstead Heath to Camden. If you are wondering whether Fleet Street gives its name to River Fleet or vice versa, the right answer is the latter. Being probably the most famous underground river in our capital, River Fleet has been mentioned numerous times in works of fiction. Notable examples include a poem by Jonathan Swift from 1710, features on a number of episodes of Doctor Who, Neil Gaiman’s television serial and novel Neverwhere, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and many others.
- Another English subterranean river that is often mentioned when talking about the subject is The River Team, a tributary of the River Tyne in Gateshead. Like most artificial underground rivers (and the natural ones for that matter too) River Team has portions that run over ground too. Unfortunately, most often than anything else, Team is talked about as one of the most polluted water sources in England. The heavy industry in Team valley and the discharges from Sewage works near Lamesley are cited as the main reasons for that unfavorable fame.