River Penk

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River Penk upstream at Penkridge - geograph.org.uk - 1443825.jpg
The Penk at Penkridge, with Penkridge Viaduct in the background.
Country England
Physical characteristics
  location Penk Rise, Tettenhall Wood, West Midlands
Confluence with the Sow
52°48′12″N2°04′55″W / 52.80333°N 2.08194°W / 52.80333; -2.08194 Coordinates: 52°48′12″N2°04′55″W / 52.80333°N 2.08194°W / 52.80333; -2.08194
Length36 km (22 mi)
Basin size356 km2 (137 sq mi)
  location Penkridge [1]
  average2.27 m3/s (80 cu ft/s)
Basin features
Progression SowTrentHumberNorth Sea
  leftMoat Brook, Whiston Brook, Pothooks Brook, Rickerscote Drain
  rightWatershead Brook, Saredon Brook, Deepmoor Drain

The River Penk is a small river flowing through Staffordshire, England. Its course is mainly within South Staffordshire, and it drains most of the northern part of that district, together with some adjoining areas of Cannock Chase, Stafford, Wolverhampton, and Shropshire. It flows into the River Sow, which is a tributary of the River Trent, so its waters flow ultimately into the North Sea via the Humber Estuary.

Staffordshire County of England

Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England. It borders with Cheshire to the northwest, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwickshire to the southeast, West Midlands and Worcestershire to the south, and Shropshire to the west.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

South Staffordshire Non-metropolitan district in England

South Staffordshire is a local government district in Staffordshire, England. The district lies to the north and west of the West Midlands county, bordering Shropshire to the west and Worcestershire to the south. It contains no towns of major size, and many of the settlements within the district are considered dormitory villages for Stafford, Telford, and the West Midlands conurbation.



The name "Penk" is actually a back-formation from the toponym Penkridge. [2] This was understood to mean "ridge by the Penk"; hence the river was assumed to be the Penk. In reality the settlement name is from Celtic roots: pen crug, signifying the crest of a hill, or a main mound or tumulus. [3] From this was derived the name of a Roman fort in the area, Pennocrucium, from which the present town takes its name. Margaret Gelling has proposed a precise location for the mound, now destroyed by ploughing, that gave both the town and the river the names. [4]

In etymology, back-formation is the process of creating a new lexeme by removing actual or supposed affixes. The resulting neologism is called a back-formation, a term coined by James Murray in 1889.

Penkridge town in South Staffordshire, United Kindom

Penkridge is a market town and civil parish in Staffordshire, England, which since the 17th century has been an industrial and commercial centre for neighbouring villages and the agricultural produce of Cannock Chase.

Margaret Gelling English toponymist

Margaret Joy Gelling, OBE was an English toponymist, known for her extensive studies of English place-names. She served as President of the English Place-Name Society from 1986 to 1998, and Vice-President of the International Council of Onomastic Sciences from 1993 to 1999, as well as being a Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, and member of both the Society of Antiquaries of London and the British Academy.

Sketch map of the course of the Penk Penk Sketch Map.png
Sketch map of the course of the Penk


The general course of the Penk is a descent from the mid-Severn sandstone section of the Midlands Plateau to the Cheshire-Shropshire-Staffordshire plain. Along much of its length, the Penk is shadowed to within a few miles by the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.

Mid Severn Sandstone Plateau

The Mid Severn Sandstone Plateau is a rural landscape and one of the natural regions of central England, straddling the border between the counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire. It stretches from the western fringes of the Birmingham conurbation to Telford in the north and Kidderminster in the south. The major feature of the plateau is the valley of the River Severn, which cuts through it from north to south. It consists of Permian and Triassic-age New Red Sandstone getting older as one goes west until one reaches Silurian and Carboniferous-age siltstones and coals west of the river.

Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal canal in the West Midlands, England

The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal is a navigable narrow canal in Staffordshire and Worcestershire in the English Midlands. It is 46 miles (74 km) long, linking the River Severn at Stourport in Worcestershire with the Trent and Mersey Canal at Haywood Junction by Great Haywood.

The Penk rises in Tettenhall Wood east of the village of Perton, South Staffordshire, approximately three miles west-north-west of Wolverhampton OS grid reference SO878999 at an altitude of 148msl (est). The Penk itself flows entirely within Staffordshire, skirting around the Wolverhampton suburbs of Tettenhall and Pendeford, although it is joined on its right by a number of streams from within Wolverhampton, as well, on the left, the Moat Brook, which drains Oaken, Codsall and Bilbrook. It flows through the village of Coven and is then joined by a major tributary, the Saredon Brook, which drains the area around Cheslyn Hay and Great Wyrley.

Perton a village located in South Staffordshire, United Kingdom

Perton is a large village and civil parish located in Staffordshire, England. It lies to the south of Codsall, and to the west of the city of Wolverhampton. Perton is named such as a derivative of 'Pear Town' due to the number of pear trees that were once there.

Wolverhampton City and Metropolitan borough in England

Wolverhampton is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England. At the 2011 census, it had a population of 249,470. The demonym for people from the city is 'Wulfrunian.'


Tettenhall is a historic village within the city of Wolverhampton, England. The name Tettenhall is probably derived from "Teotta's Halh", Teotta being a person's name and Halh being a sheltered position. Tettenhall became part of Wolverhampton in 1966, along with Bilston, Wednesfield and parts of Willenhall, Coseley and Sedgley.

It then flows north to the market town of Penkridge, where it turns east and is joined by the Whiston Brook - a tributary which drains a substantial area, stretching out into Shropshire. Turning north again, it flows across the plain, past Acton Trussell and into a marshy area, where numerous drains have been constructed and brooks canalised to contain flooding. Passing on to Baswich on the outskirts of Stafford, it joins the River Sow, which itself soon empties into the River Trent - a major river which will empty ultimately via the Humber into the North Sea.

Acton Trussell village in United Kingdom

Acton Trussell is a village in the English county of Staffordshire. It is known as Actone in the Domesday Book. Located around 4 miles southeast of Stafford, it is an affluent village, with many large homes but few local amenities. Residents in this village have excellent views of Staffordshire farmland and Stafford Castle in the distance. Its close proximity to the M6 motorway makes it a very convenient location for commuters. The majority of commuting from the village takes place to the areas of southern Staffordshire, eastern Shropshire and the West Midlands conurbation.

Baswich village in United Kingdom

Baswich is an estate on the south eastern side of Stafford. It is part of the civil parish of Berkswich and is located in Staffordshire, England. It is situated next to Weeping Cross, which is also part of the civil parish.

River Sow river in the United Kingdom

The River Sow is a tributary of the River Trent in Staffordshire, England, and is the river that flows through Stafford.


The river contains many species of fish including Chub, Trout, Perch, Pike and, reportedly, Barbel. The Penk is perhaps at its most beautiful between the villages of Brewood and Penkridge. Here the river meanders gently through the picturesque Staffordshire farmland and plays host to a variety of waterfowl and mammals.

Brown trout species of fish

The brown trout is a European species of salmonid fish that has been widely introduced into suitable environments globally. It includes both purely freshwater populations, referred to as the riverine ecotype, Salmo trutta morpha fario, and a lacustrine ecotype, S. trutta morpha lacustris, also called the lake trout, as well as anadromous forms known as the sea trout, S. trutta morpha trutta. The latter migrates to the oceans for much of its life and returns to fresh water only to spawn. Sea trout in Ireland and Britain have many regional names: sewin in Wales, finnock in Scotland, peal in the West Country, mort in North West England, and white trout in Ireland.

European perch species of perch found in Europe

Perca fluviatilis, commonly known as the common perch, European perch, redfin perch, big-scaled redfin, English perch, Eurasian perch, Eurasian river perch or in Anglophone parts of Europe, simply the perch, is a predatory species of perch found in Europe and northern Asia. The species is a popular quarry for anglers, and has been widely introduced beyond its native area, into Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. They have caused substantial damage to native fish populations in Australia and have been proclaimed a noxious species in New South Wales.

Northern pike species of fish

The northern pike, known simply as a pike in Britain, Ireland, most of Canada, and most parts of the United States, is a species of carnivorous fish of the genus Esox. They are typical of brackish and fresh waters of the Northern Hemisphere.

The Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve is situated on the Penk to the north of Pendeford, within South Staffordshire but owned by the City of Wolverhampton. A 24-hectare area of lakes, wetland, ancient grass meadow and woodland, it occupies a part of the site of a large former country estate, Pendeford Hall, which possessed an osier bed and watermill, and dated to the 13th century. It was developed by Wolverhampton council after 1976 and is now host to a wide range of wildlife, particularly birds. An environmentally-sensitive area on the edge of a conurbation, it is open to the public only by advance booking or on specific open days.


The main tributaries of the Penk, travelling south from its confluence with the Sow, are:

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  1. "28053 - Penk at Penkridge". The National River Flow Archive. Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  2. John Ayto and Ian Crofton, Brewer's Britain and Ireland, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005, ISBN   0-304-35385-X, p.864.
  3. Hooke, Della. "The Landscape of the Staffordshire Hoard". finds.org.uk. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  4. Margaret Gelling, Place-Names in the Landscape, London: J.M. dent, 1984, ISBN   0-460-86086-0, p.138