- River Stour at Christchurch, Dorset
There are a number of options on this beautiful river. You can paddle up to Iford Bridge, and beyond to the weir, from any of these locations:
Alternatively, you can paddle the Christchurch Loop… to be covered in another route article.
Distance & time (approx)
- 45 minutes to Iford Bridge, further 30 minutes to get to the weir hours, relaxed paddle
- 20-25 minutes back due to the flow of the river
Parking & Launching
- Mayors Mead – use the slipway to launch, then turn right..
- Tuckton Tea Gardens – park on the roadside, be aware of parking along residential streets, as some of the residents do not enjoy the sound of pumps or deflating boards, so please be respectful. There is a slipway on the other side of the cafe, near the boat hire.
- Riverlands Car Park, Tuckton – free to park between 1st Nov and 1st April. You can walk easily to the river from here and depending on the water level, and how many boats are moored, you can drop into the river here, keeping your feet dry, or walk along the path towards a little beach near the Wick Boat Ferry. Once on the water, go left.
- This river does require you to have a license to paddle. However, if you paddle regularly you should consider becoming a member of British Canoeing.
- The river is tidal and although this does not affect your paddle, it may affect where you get onto the water. It is sometimes windy and the river can flow fast after a lot of rain. If the river is flowing fast, it is not advisable to go beyond Iford Bridge.
Rider ability level
- all levels – this is a relaxed paddle, take it at your own speed.
Details of the paddle
- During the summer months, you will encounter people hiring boats. These can cause wash and wake, so do beware, however, they are not allowed all the way up the river so you will be able to have a quiet paddle up to the bridge.
- When you arrive at Iford Bridge you can stop on the left, just scramble up a few rocks, and enjoy a rest and the view. Alternatively, when the tide is low, there is a shingle bank you can stop at.
Points of Interest
- There are beautiful riverside properties, with their own moorings, including a beautiful red brick house with a huge chimney. This was once the site of the Free Age Press, known to have printed publications by Tolstoy. Built in 1857, it was once a waterworks, but today it is a private residence.
- Look out for swans, kingfishers, and the resident heron.
- Iford Bridge is a beautiful stone and brick bridge, which is a great opportunity to take photos. Take photos of your friends from overhead as they paddle through the arches.
Places to stop apres paddle
- Tuckton Tea Gardens – lovely tearoom, plenty of room outside to leave your board in view and sit outside for a coffee or snack.
- Captains Club – smart hotel, if you are parking at Mayors Mead, it would be recommended to put your board away and remove wet clothes and then pop into this riverside hotel for a beverage or lunch.