(Cecily Bridge to Cuckoo Pound)

NAME OF RIVER: Piddle. Yes, you heard right.

WHERE IS IT?: This is a small rural Dorset river flowing from near Tolpuddle (as in, the Tolpuddle Martyrs) to the Poole Harbour past Wareham. Map.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Cecily Bridge (GR 839929) is a quiet spot south of Bere Regis. Launching is easy upstream of the bridge.

There is a bridge near Cuckoo Pound (GR 865906) which is the finish point to this section. However, the section down to Wareham is much better and carrying on is recommended.

APPROX LENGTH: Who knows? It is about 3 km as the crow flies....but really at least twice that, as the river winds all over the place.

TIME NEEDED: 1-2 hours.

ACCESS HASSLES: The Piddle sees few paddlers and no disputes are known of. However, it passes through plenty of expensive private property so only small discreet groups are recommended. Avoid shallows as you may be disturbing spawning beds.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It is possibly paddleable year-round. However, it is clogged with weed and rather low in summer. Normal winter levels are fine. Avoid high water, as it'd be a horror story, having many low bridges and obstacles.

At Cecily Bridge you should have enough water to float comfrtably under the bridge. If there isn't enough space, it is too high

GRADING: Grade 1 with weirs.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Weirs. Low bridges. Wire fences.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The river below Cecily bridge is rather hard work; it winds all over the place and has many obstacles; several small sluice gates need portaging, there are a couple of low wires (electrified???) to duck early on, and there are several portages around low bridges. In addition there is inexcusable farming junk; broken equipment, smashed bridges and barbed wire fences at the water's edge (I saw a swan get caught in this).

Don't be put off. The trip is pleasant enough, just hard work. The section below is much more appealing though.

OTHER NOTES: Anybody been further upstream?

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.