The Bourne Rivulet (known simply as 'The Bourne' locally) is a seasonal chalk stream that rises and falls with the natural water table in the area. It usually rises in January and flows until around August each year. It normally runs from the village of Upton and flows through the villages of Hurstbourne Tarrant, St Mary Bourne and Hurstbourne Priors before joining with the River Test near Tufton.
Due to public water extraction above the headwater, the river flows increasingly intermittently above it. However Vitacress Salads Ltd.'s watercress plant, which is situated at the perennial headwaters, augments the flow and allows the Bourne to remain perennial downstream, the flow being maintained by its pumping of water back into the stream.
The Bourne was celebrated in a much loved book by Harry Plunket Greene, "Where the Bright Waters Meet", in which he described it as "unquestionably the finest trout stream in the south of England."
Fans of this book, which chronicles the author's fishing experiences on the Bourne between 1902 and 1912, still come from all over the world to fish here.
The river still produces some large wild brown trout. In the past there has been an unexplained subtle invertebrate imbalance (source: Environment Agency). Since 2007, Vitacress Salads Ltd. has taken measures which have reversed the imbalance (source: Environment Agency 2008), to the extent that restoration works downstream were recently winners in the Wild Trust Trust 2008 Awards.
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