GUIDE TO THE DORSET RIVER STOUR
(Spetisbury to Canford)
NAME OF RIVER: Dorset Stour.
WHERE IS IT?: Spetisbury - Corfe Mullen - Wimborne - Canford, Dorset.
PUT-INS/ TAKEOUTS: Spetisbury Bridge to Canford Weir (Egress)
APPROX LENGTH: Hmmm another 5 odd miles?
TIME NEEDED: In the old days it was a day trip for beginners, so 4 hours?
ACCESS HASSLES: Officially, unknown. Never encountered any problems. Don't argue with the swans that live upstream of Canford bridge...
Sensitivity and no overcrowding at the put in please.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Cowgrove Bridge. Low is below the cross beams, good level on the bottom of said beams, high - what cross beams?
GRADING: 1, dare I say 1+ in flood.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Far from major, but keep eyes peeled as ever. Spetisbury Weir, Corfe Mullen Weir, Cowgrove Weir (wooden bridge immediately before), Canford Weir. Barbed wire. Stakes. Swans. Did I mention the swans? Keep away - for their sake AND yours. The usual.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Access is at Spetisbury Bridge (don't abandon vehicles for a day upstream of here at the weir please!). Parking very limited even here, and is right by the bridge in town. Recommend that you always speak with LAO. Section is flat and meandering as per rest of Stour. Only route finding problem really is the approach to Coventry Arms @ Corfe Mullen (you have passed Sturminster Marshall Bridge) - you will see the road R Right. DON'T END UP IN THE MILL CHANNEL. Going through the mill would be a bad plan. Lunch at the pub would be a very good plan. Route is down the multi-step weir in the middle of the valley (feels miles from anywhere). My only recollection of this is getting utterly stuck in one of the tiny stoppers in the middle of summer in my Corsica S. Everyone laughed so much while sat there eating their lunch I had to get out of my boat IN the 'stopper' and walk the damn thing out. Very embarrassing but there is a lesson there, for those paying attention, regarding grippy stoppers, weirs and sausage shaped boats. I have not seen this weir at high flow. I can imagine at SOME point (medium high???) it might form a nasty. Don't know. Somewhere round here at the back of the Covvy Arms people HAVE unfortunately drowned in the past which serves another big little lesson. Don't get complacent - even on Grade 1. Ever.
Next 'big' thing is Cowgrove weir. Cowgrove is a 2 foot (?) straight drop with SOME RUBBLE (middle from memory?). When the river level is BELOW the cross beams on the wooden bridge to the carpark (River Left) it will be bony and irrelevant. Watch for debris. When the level is JUST ON the beams there is a river wide stopper with a way out in the middle. Haven't had my i3 in there yet but ten year old memories tell me it was much fun in older, bigger boats. River level ABOVE these beams and Cowgrove disappears entirely with a hint of a wave on the way depending on the exact level.
Downstream of here is all much of a muchness with gravel rapids and such, more bridge stanchions to avoid being wrapped around and plenty of curious cows. Egress at CANFORD WEIR by permission or refer to the guide for the lower section!
OTHER NOTES: There is also the confluence of the R. Allen that flows out of Wimborne. I have never paddled UP it (pointless and certainly impossible) but IN WIMBORNE TOWN there is at least ONE PLAYWAVE. I have played it several times. Dredging up the memories; access from a town car park and continue down the Stour. There may be more to be had on the Allen further North onto the Chase but access is likely the problem. Consult LAO, as ever.
CONTRIBUTED BY: David Lloyd.
Off today up to Spetisbury for a bit of a paddle.