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Seas, Rivers and Lakes / Моря, реки и озера

Great Britain is surrounded by great body of water all around. The eastern coast of Great Britain is washed by the North Sea. The western coast is washed by the Atlantic Ocean. There is the Irish Sea between Ireland and Great Britain. The southern coast is washed by the English Channel or La Manche ("la manche" is a French word which means "a sleeve") and the Strait of Dover or Pas de Calais.

The Strait of Dover is 32 kilometres wide and is the narrowest part of the English Channel. It separates Great Britain from the continent of Europe. The Channel Tunnel ("Chunnel"), a great tunnel which is constructed under the English Channel, now links the UK with France. Thanks to this tunnel it is possible to travel by train from Paris to London which is extremely convenient.

All the seas around Britain are shallow and are good for fishing.

Great Britain has many rivers but they are not very long. The main rivers and estuaries are the Thames, the Severn, the Clyde, the Tweed and the Humber estuary.

The Thames is the most popular and the most important river. It is suitable for navigation. Large ships can get up to London Bridge which is 50 miles away from the sea. The river Thames is also famous for many notable cities which are situated on its banks. Among them are London and Oxford.

There is one annual event connected with the river Thames — it is called Swan Upping.

Swan Upping is the ceremony which takes place in the third week in July on the river Thames and is in fact a census of swans. Swans are counted and marked on a 70-mile, five-day journey up the River Thames. The Queen’s Swan Marker accompanied by the Swan Uppers catch and check the health of the swans and mark all new cygnets with the same mark as their parents. Swan Upping dates from medieval times, when the Crown claimed ownership of all swans at the time and when swans were considered a tasty ceremonial dish. The swan has had its royal status since the 12th century.

The Severn is the longest river of Great Britain. It flows along the border between England and Wales. Its tributary is the river Avon. Stratford-upon-Avon is located on its bank and is the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

The Tweed flows between Scotland and England. The woolen fabric "tweed" is made in this region and it got its name from this river.

The Clyde is the main river in Scotland. Such rivers that flow down swiftly from the hills into the valleys are called "dales".

If we compare long English rivers with the big rivers of the world, they seem rather short. But still not many countries have such useful streams as England does.

The mouths of the majority of British rivers form good harbours. They are joined by canals so that it is possible to travel by water from one end of Great Britain to another.

The UK is known for its beautiful lakes. Most of them are in Scotland and north-west of England. Scottish valleys are filled with lakes. These lakes are called "lochs". There are two kinds of lakes — lakes with fresh water like Loch Ness and lakes like Norwegian fjords.

One of the most favourite British resorts is the Lake District in northern England with its beautiful lakes, valleys and hills. This district is a historical place for English literature, it is connected with the name of William Wordsworth (1770–1850), the founder of the Lake School. This school represented the romantic trend in the English literature at the beginning of the 19th century. The Lake School was actually a group of poets, the majority of whom lived in the Lake District.


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