The River Smite, a tributary of the River Devon, flows for 20 miles (32 km) through Leicestershire and South-East Nottinghamshire, England. The source is near the hamlet of Holwell, Leicestershire, and it joins the River Devon near Shelton, Nottinghamshire. The Smite and its tributaries, which include the River Whipling, the Stroom Dyke, and the Dalby Brook, drain an area of 193 square kilometres (75 sq mi) of agricultural land in the Vale of Belvoir.

River Smite
River Smite near Shelton - - 237155.jpg
Smite near Shelton
River Smite is located in Nottinghamshire
River Smite
Mouth of the Smite in Nottinghamshire
CountiesLeicestershire, Nottinghamshire
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ locationHolwell, Leicestershire
 ⁃ location
Shelton, Nottinghamshire
 ⁃ coordinates
52°59′50″N 0°49′25″W / 52.9972°N 0.8235°W / 52.9972; -0.8235Coordinates: 52°59′50″N 0°49′25″W / 52.9972°N 0.8235°W / 52.9972; -0.8235
Length32 km (20 mi)[1]
Basin size193 km2 (75 sq mi)[1]
Progression : Smite—DevonTrentHumber


In the 17th century the river was known as the Snite. This and the modern spelling are thought to derive from the Old English word smita, denoting a foul or miry place. This is linked to another Old English word smitan, which means to daub or pollute. This implies that the Smite was a dirty, miry stream.[2][3]


The river originates from a number of springs near Holwell in Leicestershire, along a spring line that occurs where the local permeable ironstone meets the lower mudstones, on the flank of the Bleak Hills, which form part of the Belvoir Ridge. Although the source of the Smite is also attributed to another spring 1 km to the north, it is often stated as being Holwell mouth, a chalybeate or mineral spring. This lies in a wooded ravine to the north of Holwell, and is now disused, but in the 17th and 18th centuries its water was considered to have healing properties and was laid out with stone seating for those that took the waters. The spring contains iron salts, which gives it a reddish colour, and it is considered to have a distinctive sulphurous taste. The name Holwell is of Saxon origin, meaning "the spring or stream in a hollow".[4][5][6][7]


Various tributary streams that descend from the Bleak Hills join the Smite as it flows in a north-westerly direction, before it turns north-east as it reaches the bottom of the escarpment and the lower-lying Vale of Belvoir. It is spanned by an aqueduct of the Grantham Canal, and then continues in a north-westerly direction to meet Dalby Brook. This tributary drains the south-west of the catchment, rising near Old Dalby, before flowing between Upper and Nether Broughton, and past Hickling to the junction with the Smite. Beyond this confluence the river flows through Colston Bassett and beside Wiverton Hall, where it is joined by the Stroom Dyke. It continues through farmland, until it reaches the A52 where it then passes between the villages of Whatton-in-the-Vale and Aslockton. It is joined by the River Whipling, as it flows past the remains of the motte and bailey of Aslockton Castle. The river continues in a north-easterly direction, beside the villages of Orston, Thoroton, Flawborough and Shelton, where it meets the River Devon.[8]

River WhiplingEdit

The Grimmer and the Rundle Beck, join to form the Whipling

The River Whipling is the main tributary of the River Smite, and is 6 miles (9.7 km) long. The source of the river is the confluence of its two tributaries, the Rundle Beck and The Grimmer, which meet near Granby. The Whipling then flows around the village, before taking a north-easterly course to join the Smite near Whatton in the Vale.

The Whipling and its tributaries drain an area of 52 square kilometres (20 sq mi) of the Vale of Belvoir, and so contribute about a quarter of the catchment area of the Smite.[1][8][9]


  1. ^ a b c "WFD Surface Water Classification Status and Objectives 2012 csv files". Archived from the original on 24 February 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  2. ^ Mutschmann, Heinrich (2012). The Place-Names of Nottinghamshire: Their Origin and Development. Cambridge University Press. p. 124. ISBN 9781107665415.
  3. ^ "A History of Colston Bassett (1942)". Nottinghamshire History. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  4. ^ Harrison, William (1882). Geology of the counties of England and of North and South Wales. Kelly. p. 157.
  5. ^ "Vale of Belvoir – Section 1". Countryside Appraisal. Nottinghamshire County Council. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Holwell Mouth". The Megalithic Portal. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  7. ^ David Mills (20 October 2011). A Dictionary of British Place-Names. Oxford University Press. pp. 244–. ISBN 978-0-19-960908-6.
  8. ^ a b "Water Framework Directive - River Basin Management Plans". What's in your Backyard. Environment Agency. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Water Framework Directive - River Basin Management Plans". What's in your Backyard. Environment Agency. Retrieved 14 November 2014.