GUIDE TO THE DORSET RIVER STOUR
(Blandford to Spetisbury)
NAME OF RIVER: Stour.
WHERE IS IT?: Flowing from North Dorset (Sturminster), past Blandford and Bournemouth to the English Channel at Christchurch, this is a major river.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Start at Blandford. Access and egress is possible (unofficially) on river left at Blandford - from the Ham Car Park near Blandford Bridge.
Or, just go to Spetisbury (the finish) for 'park and play'. Park and change sensibly here, this is a working farm and people need to live there.
APPROX LENGTH: 7 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Unknown.
ACCESS HASSLES: Mark Rainsley (March 2003)...'There have been reports of over-large groups paddling at Spetisbury. There is room for no more than a maximum of 6-8 paddlers at this lovely little playspot. Likewise, the nearby parking is limited and is directly beside residential property. If you arrive and find the weir already being used, you are advised to go elsewhere as it simply cannot support crowds. If you have non-paddlers with you, they should stick to the footpath and behave sensibly. The residents beside Spetisbury weir are extremely friendly, welcoming and patient. Act sensibly and do not abuse this...you're paddling beside their back garden!'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It is paddleable year-round. Spetisbury works for about six months through the winter.
GRADING: Grade 1 with weirs.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Weirs.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the centre of Blandford (launching below the town weir), continue downstream, under a road bridge, through fields and farms towards and past Charlton Marshall. Continue towards Spetisbury. The river forks twice here. All routes are fine so far as I know. To get to Tuffley's wave (Dorset's Premiere Playspot) take the right fork on both occasions. The river proceeds towards a mill-house (now residential). Wave 1 is 200 metres before the mill-house, where the river drops through a gap in the left bank! This is the smaller of the two waves. Continue on towards the mill-house for the other wave. This is formed through a sluice gate (which can be shot) right next to the mill-house. As far as I know the mill-house occupants are 'friendlies', but I haven't spoken to them myself. You can get to these waves by road for a park-and-play session - follow a footpath through a farm - opposite the turning for the village school in Spetisbury.
OTHER NOTES: Of course, you can also carry on downstream.
The River Stour from Canford School to the sea is enjoyable.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Simon Jones, also Mark Rainsley.