The river is crossed by a number of historic bridges including one at Tenbury Wells that was rebuilt by Thomas Telford following flood damage in 1795.
The River Clun flows into the Teme at Leintwardine in north Herefordshire. The River Corve flows into the Teme just outside Ludlow and the Ledwyche Brook flows into the Teme at Burford on the Herefordshire/Shropshire border. The Kyre Brook flows into the Teme at Tenbury Wells, and the River Rea flows into the Teme at Newnham Bridge, Worcestershire, a few miles south of Cleobury Mortimer, a small Shropshire town.
The Teme falls nearly 500 metres during its length from a height of 506 metres above sea level at its source to just 14 metres above sea-level at its confluence with the River Severn.
The Teme has in recent times often bursts its banks. June and July 2007 saw serious floods in a number of areas, including Leintwardine, Tenbury Wells and Ludlow although the watercourse that flooded the latter location was a tributary, the River Corve.
It is the 14th longest river in the United Kingdom; top-10 for England and Wales.
Leisure boats have long been used on the river and rowing boats can still be hired at The Linney Park, Ludlow. An annual coracle regatta is held on the Teme. In June 2005 it was held at Leintwardine. In June 2006, the 12th regatta was held at Mortimer's Cross.
A Countryside Agency report in September 2003 entitled Improving access for canoeing on inland waterways: A study of the feasibility of access agreements stated:
There is no doubt that the final from Powick bridge and Mill to its confluence with the river Severn that the Teme is (or was) navigable. There was a coal wharf near Powick Bridge, belonging with the mill, whose owner had the right to use a towing path to the river Severn. In the 18th century, pig iron was brought up the river to Powick forge (as the mill then was).
There are two opposing views as to whether the river Teme was navigable by boats carrying cargo above Powick Mill for more than short distances or as ferries. Undoubtedly, navigation would have been very convenient for the ironmasters at Bringewood Ironworks, Herefordshire, but the proponents of navigation have not been able to bring forward any unequivocal documentary or archaeological evidence of its use. They allege that there were flashlocks to enable vessels to pass mill weirs, as on the river Thames, but adduce no evidence of any, or of actual voyages.
An 1810 book states "The Teme is also navigable for barges from its junction with the Severn near Powick upwards to a small distance above Powick Bridge. The river having considerable declivity its navigation is soon interrupted by shoals and shallows"
Maxwell Fraser writing in 1939 in the Companion into Worcestershire, "comment on the River Teme", states "... half it course lies in Worcestershire, and the most easily navigated part is wholly in that county.
In 1999 Colin Green claimed that traffic on the Teme began in Roman times and 'continued in Norman times, when it is known the stone for the mill at Ashford Carbonel was brought from Caen in the 14th century, using water transport all the way'. However no earlier published source for this claim has been provided.
William Sandys (who improved the Avon) was at the same time also authorised to improve the Teme, but there is no evidence that he did so, perhaps due to his having used up all his resources on the Avon. Having failed to recover the Avon after the Restoration, Sir William Sandys and his son undertook work on the Wye and Lugg.
One indication of commercial use of vessels above Powick is a newspaper advertisement in 1750 that the miller at Stanford on Teme had a boat for sale, capable of carrying 10 tons. Unless locks had been installed, this could not have operated over any great distance, as a boat of this size would have been unable to pass mill weirs. Evidence that has been offered in support of navigability at Ludlow consists of certain paintings (thought to date from c.1830) which show a river with boats. It is not clear if these paintings show Ludlow as it actually was, or if they were at least partly derived from the artist's imagination.
Other commercial vessels included the ferry at Rochford, the ferry at Cotheridge and the ferry at Clifton on Teme.
In an article published in March 2006 in the Journal of Railway and Canal Historical Society, Pat Jones, reviewing the evidence, asserts that the Teme was navigable above Powick. However in an article published in the same journal in July 2006 Peter King refutes this and writes that evidence of substantial commercial use of the river as a navigable waterway above Powick is minimal.
In valleys of springs of rivers By Ony and Teme and Clun The country for easy livers The quietest under the sun