NAME OF RIVER: River Avon (Hampshire) - East Mills Weir
WHERE IS IT? It's on the A338.
So from Salisbury follow the A388 South all the way down until you pass the Tudor Rose pub at Burgate. Take the next right, signposted Fordingbridge onto Salisbury Road. Turn immediately right and right again to double back into the lay-by outside of Burgate School. You are parked as close as you can to the put in.
From Ringwood, head North on the A338. Ignore the first Fordingbridge turn off and take the second. Follow directions as above.
The take out car park is a pay and display. From the lay-by, head back onto Salisbury Road (not the A338) and go south into Fordingbridge. At the roundabout, take the first exit, cross the river and turn right. The car park is on your left. Egress is at a public park on your right.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: From the Entrance of Burgate School (lay-by out front) walk 100 m North on the A338. On the opposite side of road is a marked public footpath going through Burgate Manor Farm (owners not paddler friendly). Follow this foot path through a few farm buildings until you see a signpost directing you off to the left. The path will cross the Avon by means of a big white suspension bridge. Access onto the river is from the other side of the bridge or launch straight off the bridge (SU 15472 15529).
Take out is best if you park in the pay and display car park (SU 15090 14051) on the B3078. Here you can exit the river from a public park on river left and walk a short distance to the car park. Also it’s only a 15 min walk to the get in point from here. It is also worth noting that if you only have one car it's quite possible to park at Burgate School, paddle and exit at the A338 bridge, under the dual carriage way up a small foot path to the road. It's around a 500m walk back to the car, proper park and play!
APPOX LENGTH: Park n play...
TIME NEEDED: As long as you want, then go to the pub.
ACCESS HASSLES: Loads ! But DO NOT BE PUT OFF! It's worth reading these forum threads.
GRADING: It's a weir.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The river right weir at Eastmills can get nasty at times i.e. a bit " sticky" , but I've been there a few times now and it's either a small green surfing wave or it's a small hole that can be surfed on.
There are four features on this short section of water. From the put in, paddle upstream 300 yards and branch left to arrive at the bottom of a sluice gate that appears to be in someone’s back garden. Depending on the flow, this small feature can be surfed.
From the branch in the river, continue another 300 yards to a long sloping weir that we have not paddled.
The two main weirs are at East mills, 1.4 miles downstream from the put in. The river splits here, turning river right to weir 1, or continuing straight to weir 2. Choose wisely, if you paddle downstream to look at weir two, it will be extremely difficult to get back up to weir one in a play boat! Have a look down river to East Mills weir (weir two), if you can't see any white water, it's probably best to go to weir one on the right. From there you can always paddle 600 yards down stream to the point where the river merges again and then 100 yards back up stream to return to weir two.
Weir 1 (River right).
This is a small shallow weir under a footbridge that generates a surf-able stopper. It’s fun in lower water but can be retentive as the flow increase. Weir one is best played on in low / slow river levels.
Weir 2 (River left).
This weir, when it works is a lot more fun. Depending on the conditions it is quite possible to achieve many of the more advanced modern moves here. In lower / slower conditions you will probably only be able to surf a small hole or spin around! The feature is highly dependant on flow. When we visited in March 2013, there was a beautiful meter high, steep faced river wide green surf wave, with water entering at a friendly shallow angle. The wave had foamy shoulders and was not easy to get on to, but once on; bliss. Downstream of this wave, the water was turbulent and the eddy line boily.
OTHER NOTES: it Seems to us that the best time to go on to make use of the weir is not necessarily after a lot of rain but if the river is really flowing! The last time we went the EA website said it was at 70cm, a gauge next to the weir said it was at 60 cm. We assume this is to do with the EA opening sluice gates further up stream but as I say it's the flow that creates the fun!
Although this river has quite a lot of access problems with land owners and fishermen incorrectly citing access law and such forth, it is truly one of the best play spots for miles. It is a beautiful stretch of river, with crystal clear water, the more people we can make aware of this section of river the less likely-hood of continuous abuse.
Show respect to fishermen, give them time to wind their lines in, ask them which side they prefer you to pass, then pass quietly and quickly. Having paddled this a few times, I can honestly say that the majority of the fishermen are tolerant. Any hassle is more likely to originate from riparian's.