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River Itchen - Woodmill Weir

Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:03 pm
by Mark R

Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:38 am
by Chas C
The Weir has been repaired and is officially open to paddle at low tide, although current higher water levels will make the stopper very sticky, not for the faint hearted.

Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:21 pm
by Chris149
Thought I'd put something down as president at Southampton uni canoe club.

The weir no longer has a spike and is good fun in low to medium water. If water is flowing over the blocks on either side of the channel it can be less pleasant, becoming very retentive in high water and not a fun place.

I paddle there regularly along with most of the club and know people who may be able to give you some more detailed info. Will send a message out to the club mailing list and see if some of the more experienced paddlers can provide some more info.

Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:34 pm
by timrochester
I am also from southampton uni canoe club, there is a little bit more information available from our website here:

Note that this is a wiki maintained by club members so don't treat is as gospel :)

Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:09 pm
by Dwarf
Does anyone have any up to date photos of the weir?

Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:22 pm
by Hedgepig
Not from the last couple of years but as the tides are good next week (low is post work) I could take a camera down and get a few if they're wanted.

Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:44 pm
by geomore
Got a load of photos taken mid summer, on a lowish flow (base summer levels plus a bit of rain). Some are of the sluice round the corner, which we tried to surf for a laugh, and was predictably a waste of time. (I've heard of people who have thought this is the Weir, muppets!) ... ennanigans


The weir hasn't changed much since I've been in southampton (4 years).
Looking at the picture above you can see the green tongue to the left of Tim, and the "pour over" to the right. Just out of view bottom right is an "eddy" behind the block I'm standing on. This feeds gradually into the pour over, and scares freshers. In this flow it is quite safe, but if you swim it is important to swim back into the tongue not this eddy. This is where people go wrong when they have bad stories of this weir. On a good medium flow you this pour over gets quite sticky. As long as the tongue is there, you can use it to flush. As the flow increases, the tongue stops flushing. This happens in solid flow, with water well over both blocks on the sides.

Don't forget the weir is tidal! There is an island below which holds the water at a constant height once the tide goes lower than about 2ft above spring low. The tide is about 45 mins to an hour delay on southampton solent. Get there early especially in high water - You can watch the wave form, and, if you are a bit nervous, ride the wave train to boost confidence first.

Remember the bank support is not existent on medium/high flows (the 1m2 block I'm standing on won't be there) due to the walls each side.

Posted: Sat Sep 13, 2008 10:52 am
by Mark R
geomore wrote:The weir hasn't changed much since I've been in southampton (4 years).
Judging by the pic, it's changed a huge amount since I was last there (6 years?). It used to be pure evil, but in a good sort of way ...

Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 10:53 am
by Hedgepig
The Mighty death gorge has changed massively over the years. When I first arrived at uni (99) the weir was back inside the bridge and would even form a nice play wave with a smaller wave train behind when the conditions were right. In that incarnation the surfers right eddy could be horribly boily and would recirculate a swimmer back into the weir (not one of my favourite experiences!). Everything changed literally in a weekend (I think it was the November Dee tour 2001). With the old weir you used to be able to push the nose of long boats under the sill and into the support of the weir. Eventually someone sent a diver down to have a look at it when cracks started forming in the bridge above and in the centre next door. They found that the weir had become chronically undercut to the point that the bridge was no longer safe. The bridge was closed to traffic and a scaffolding walk way built over it for pedestrians as it was thought to be that unstable (30 tonne lorries had been going over it the day before...). It took around six months for them to rebuild the weir into its current conformation with two concrete blocks projecting a meter or so out from the bridge.

Once the changes had been finished the weir became a pour over to start with and so they put a new wooden sill on surfers left that that seemed to make the situation better. The weir was still "closed" for quite a while after the work was completed as they left chains and between floating barrels across the entrance. Being sensible students we ignored this which lead to the odd upside down encounter with the chains. The weir settled down over the next couple of years before it got "closed" again. This time the reason was that it had become horribly retentive, or at least one of the Woodmill instructors kept swimming in it and therefore declared it dangerous..... What had happened was that the weir had badly undercut again and at the wrong level a swimmer could get recirculated behind the weir face allegedly. Woodmill declared the weir closed for about a year on healthy and safety grounds until work had been done to repair it. As the weir is tidal no one can actually close it so we continued to paddle it and never had any real problems. Recently it was recommend that people didn't paddle it as they found a massive metal spike in the river bed and it needed to be removed (there is a picture of it up in the activity centre once they'd pulled it out).

Currently the weir is much as Georges picture most of the time. If there is a lot of water flowing down the Itchen then it becomes a horrible closed out hole and if the Itchen is in flood then there is a big enough hole to take a minibus. Basically if the water is flowing over the concrete blocks on either side it is likely to be unpleasant. It is always worth going into the Shop to have a chat and see what they say as the guys in there know the weir better than most.

If someone does get into trouble and you can't get them out of the weir then I believe there is a switch in the Outdoor centre that will divert the water through the sluice gate that feeds under the mill and reduce the power of the weir. This may only be a rumour of course.

Chris Vian (perpetual student/ university hanger on)

Re: RIVER ITCHEN (Woodmill Weir)

Posted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:21 am
by Andy Pt
As the weir is tidal no one can actually close it
I've paddled Woodmill for more years than I'd like to admit and in the old days we used to train on the wave train in the Salmon Pool. This was before the Outdoor Centre took ownership. As the pool is tidal we were/are legally allowed access.

Now there are bars hanging from the bridge to prevent access from the tidal river does anybody know why?

Re: RIVER ITCHEN (Woodmill Weir)

Posted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:23 pm
by canoegnu

I've been paddling at Woodmill, off and on for about 15 years, both before and after the centre took ownership of the Salmon Pool (I used to be a member of their Thursday night canoe club). From my recollection, the bars hanging from the bridge have always been there. We used to paddle in the Salmon Pool on a Thursday night, but if they had someone fly fishing there, we always had to wait until they had finished. I know they also used to have a water bailiff, to guard against poaching in the pool. I always assumed that the pool was private property and the centre had the rights for both canoeing and fishing. Until I read your post, it had never occurred to me that, as tidal water, maybe this should be open access. I can only assume that it is one of those exceptions to the rule, like the Beaulieu River.



Re: RIVER ITCHEN (Woodmill Weir)

Posted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:53 pm
by Chas C
The previous manager of the shop (George) told me that the pool base was concrete and that it had subsided and split apart in places such that there is now underwater sumps / caverns hence for some it could be dangerous.

There have been bars hanging from the bridge for at least 15 years when I first paddled the weir, they can be removed from the pool side (done to allow rafts down onto the weir).

Re: RIVER ITCHEN (Woodmill Weir)

Posted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:11 pm
by Andy Pt
Personally, I can't help thinking that it is to secure lucrative fishing fee's by Propagating a myth that exclusion is for our own safety. I asked the centre staff recently but they are unsure of exactly why we are not allowed.
I would paddle it because it is my right, and it can be fun if the tides too high for the weir, but I find arguing spoils your day and as its our only local spot it could become awkward :)

Maybe the centre could explain on here?

Re: RIVER ITCHEN (Woodmill Weir)

Posted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:00 pm
by wakey
Unfortunately the shop/centre has no control over the top pool ( Salmon Pool ) as it is governed by the Southampton City Council. I have asked many times why we can't paddle the top pool and this is the reason why.
But, what's the worst that can happen if you do ?? They ask you to leave..... As long as no-one's fishing, what's the problem.
I do know people who paddle up the river then cut thru an open bank and run the whole lot, altho the drop above the salmon pool can get a bit grabby.
To confirm the other guys query as to open undercuts in the bottom of the regular wier pool, yes there is !! I was involved in the re construction and removal of the metal a few yrs ago and there are massive holes in the concrete on the river bed !!! It is not advised to jump into the wier as some people do !!!
If a proposal of any sort should be put forward it should be that of an electronic ramp being installed similar to HPP, which would create an awesome playspot for us all !!

Re: RIVER ITCHEN (Woodmill Weir)

Posted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:31 am
by Chas C
With reference to my post above, when talking about gaps in the concrete base I was talking about the Salmon Pool - above the weir, not the weir itself although I do recall some comments about the river bed below under the weir being bit dodgy.

Re: RIVER ITCHEN (Woodmill Weir)

Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:45 pm
by tiggy_02
The weir itself is fine, just don't paddle it alone as there is a nasty stopper of the left hand side which you cannot get out of on your own without a lot of luck...
it's like being in a washing machine...

Re: RIVER ITCHEN (Woodmill Weir)

Posted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:43 am
by jmmoxon
Hampshire Council have set up a canoe trail on the river:


Re: RIVER ITCHEN (Woodmill Weir)

Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:44 pm
Has anyone got any more up to date info on the weir? I've been debating it for a month or so now due to rubbish Hurley levels.

Re: RIVER ITCHEN (Woodmill Weir)

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:38 pm
by wakey
No more Info, it is still and will stay for now as all of the above. But don't think to yourself it's anything like Hurley you'll be a bit dissapointed.

Re: River Itchen - Woodmill Weir

Posted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:38 am
by Andy Pt
Itchen Navigation Access

As part of the river access campaign I wrote to my local MP asking him to support and he was kind enough to come to the club to discuss it. Apart from discussing general UK access I had a good moan about the Itchen Navigation, fishing clubs and access. He knew the River well and basically said the signs posted by the fishing club's are a load of old bollocks and it is still a navigable stretch of water because the act of Parliament that created it is still in force and has not been repealed. To this end he had his secretary check the Parliamentary records and write to me to confirm, which she did ( the only caveat is that boats have to pay the lock keeper for passage if they use his lock - the locks were taken out years ago and are now all weirs ).

So basically we can paddle the Navigation from Winchester to Woodmill under the original Act of Parliament ( In theory ).
Unfortunately the Navigation was filled in below Eastleigh water works by a Farmer in the mid 1900's and another stretch above Otterbourne water works now runs through someone's garden. The environment agency has diverted the water flow on some stretches back into the River Itchen so the Navigation is practically dry in some places. ( esp by St Catherines Hill and Shawford ). Which pretty much just leaves two stretches.
1. From the M3 motorway to Shawford - about 1 mile with the Twyford lock in the middle. The locals call it the swimming pool and it's packed with kids and dog's in the summer. It's a small pour over weir of about 1 foot into a pool.
2. From Otterbourne to The Hub playing fields Eastleigh - 2 to 3 miles with two Weirs. The first is the Salmon steps at Allbrook which exit under a low road bridge. I don't know if anybody has run them ( its not really worth the effort ) but local kids swim them. And Withymead lock which you would have to portage due to a low footbridge and tree's in the lock pool. The takeout would be above Bishopstoke lock at The Hub. At really high flows there is a play wave in the Lock. Don't be tempted. It's full of metal. Nobody swims there.

It's probably worth mentioning that the Navigation has any number of interest groups who claim protective custody over it and it is a site of European unique scientific interest ( being one of only a handful of chalk bed rivers in the world ). It's got all of the makings of a huge clash of committee's.

That said, I'm local and paddle the stretch at The Hub and have never had a problem. It's a good way to walk the dog whilst playing around on the water. It's deep enough to practice rolling and there's a good flow for sprint interval training. It's only a ten minute paddle upstream tops and certainly not worth travelling for, but as a local its handy.

Re: River Itchen - Woodmill Weir

Posted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:30 pm
by Andy Pt
Paddled the weir this morning 2 hours before low tide and it's absolutely stonking through from the pool.

Checked the Environment Agency levels for the Itchen and got the following:-

The river level at Allbrook weir is 0.71 metres.
This measurement was recorded at 17:45 on 08/02/2014.
The typical river level range for this location is between 0.16 metres and 0.53 metres.
The highest river level recorded at this location is 0.66 metres and the river level reached 0.59 metres on 25/01/07 ... ionId=1048

Be careful if your going down, it's messy

Re: River Itchen - Woodmill Weir

Posted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 5:41 pm
by Andy:P
Wakeboarding on the Itchen!

Paddled Woodmill today and there were wake boarders using the Navigation. They had a motor tied to the Armco barrier where the river meets the main road pulling a 200m cable with a boarder on the end. Looked great fun and attracted quite a crowd, wonder how the fishermen feel about that?

Re: River Itchen - Woodmill Weir

Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 6:49 am
by Mark Gawler
I you use the wave, please read this: Please vote for a new WW course in Southampton