River Avon, Hampshire

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Coordinates: 51°20′56″N 1°56′53″W / 51.349°N 1.948°W / 51.349; -1.948

River Avon
River Avon at Salisbury - geograph.org.uk - 31013.jpg
The River Avon in Salisbury
River Avon, Hampshire is located in Wiltshire
River Avon, Hampshire
Source of the west headwater of this Avon
EtymologyBrittonic Celtic meaning river
Location
CountryUnited Kingdom
Country within the UKEngland
CountiesWiltshire, Hampshire, Dorset
Physical characteristics
Source 
 • locationVale of Pewsey, Wiltshire
 • coordinates51°20′56″N 1°56′53″W / 51.349°N 1.948°W / 51.349; -1.948
 • elevation124 metres (407 ft)
MouthEnglish Channel
 • location
Christchurch, Dorset
 • coordinates
51°20′56″N 1°56′53″W / 51.349°N 1.948°W / 51.349; -1.948
Length96 km (60 mi)
Basin features
Tributaries 
 • leftBourne
 • rightNadder, Ebble
Designation
Official nameAvon Valley
Designated2 February 1998
Reference no.926[1]

The River Avon (/ˈvən/) is in the south of England, rising in Wiltshire, flowing through that county's city of Salisbury and then west Hampshire, before reaching the English Channel through Christchurch Harbour in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole conurbation of Dorset.

It is sometimes known as the Salisbury Avon or the Hampshire Avon to distinguish it from namesakes across Great Britain. It is one of the rivers in Britain in which the phenomenon of anchor ice has been observed.[2] The Avon is thought to contain more species of fish than any other river in Britain.[3] Long-farmed pastures and planted, arable fields line much of the valley; an indication of the wealth these brought to landowners is in ten large listed houses with statutorily recognised and protected parks. Many prehistoric sites and broader "landscapes" exist on either side of the river, the largest being the World Heritage Site zone of Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, followed by, upstream, the Old Sarum knoll fortification and the "Thornham Down prehistoric and medieval landscape".

Etymology[edit]

The start of the lower half, near Fordingbridge.
Angling at the Royalty fishery, Christchurch in March 2017.
Longford Castle from the air
Breamore House, view from south

The river's name is a tautology: Avon is the Proto-Brythonic word meaning "river".

Course[edit]

The Avon begins as two separate rivers. The western Avon rises to the east of Devizes, draining the Vale of Pewsey, and the eastern Avon rises just east of Pewsey adjacent to the Kennet and Avon Canal. These two merge at Upavon, flowing southwards across Salisbury Plain through Durrington, Amesbury and Salisbury. To the south of Salisbury it enters the Hampshire Basin, flowing along the western edge of the New Forest through Fordingbridge and Ringwood, meeting up with the River Stour at Christchurch, to flow into Christchurch Harbour. The harbour opens into the English Channel past a cluster of small mouths of brooks from the New Forest and a broad sandbank, which is all built up as the Mudeford part of the harbour.

All the significant direct and indirect tributaries of the Avon, including the Nadder, Wylye, Bourne and Ebble, converge within a short distance around Salisbury.

A short distance north from the river's western source is Morgan's Hill, which marks the hydrological triple divide of Great Britain, where rainfall drains into the English Channel (via this River Avon), the Atlantic Ocean (via the Bristol Avon and Severn Estuary) and the North Sea (via the Kennet and Thames).

About half of the river is in Wiltshire; the rest is split between Hampshire and Dorset. The river is briefly used for the latters' demarcation today but none lay in Dorset before 1974 changes.

As two Avons drain parts of Wiltshire, the river is popularly known as the Hampshire Avon or the Salisbury Avon (and the other as the Bristol Avon).

Path[edit]

The Avon Valley Path follows the river between Salisbury and Christchurch.

Rights of way[edit]

Canoeists seeking lawful passage as high as Salisbury have a long-forgotten, unrepealed Act in their favour, "for making the River Avon navigable from Christchurch to the city of New Sarum" in 1664, the fourth year of Charles II's factual reign.[4]

However, the Act was subject to enabling works, most which were never completed, hence the right is disputed. Responsibility for delivery was given to private undertakers in the names of Hodges, Bennett and Dennett, who were to fund the canalisation between the places. They were allowed to charge their investment at 10% interest rate and could take full commercial advantage, which Tripartite agreements from 1684 and 1685 evidence. The House of Commons journal of 31 January 1699 records that the freeholders, inhabitants and residents of Ibsley and Fordingbridge petitioned the House on the fact that they could not comply with the 1664 Act and were never likely to do so. The House sided with them and effectively declared its view of the law, the finality of which, lacking Royal Assent, the law of rights of way is unclear on but makes more likely the view of the Act became voidable as the works to canalise the Avon were never implemented. Undecisive court cases were brought in 1737 and 1772 to enforce the alleged but not exercised right (to benefit barge owners).[5][6]

Landowner's houses with parkland[edit]

The valley from north to south has these houses with large listed parks and gardens (linked), significantly funded in their original form by the rich, mixed agriculture from the little-wooded upper valley plains and sides:

Scheduled ancient monument landscapes[edit]

The largest of this type is England's main World Heritage Site of this category, which includes Stonehenge.[17]

Others include massive earthworks at Old Sarum,[18] and across the larger, separate Thornham Down area.[19]

Settlements[edit]

Wiltshire
Upper Avon Valley:

Woodford Valley:

Salisbury:

Wiltshire watermeadows:

Hampshire:

Dorset:

Designations[edit]

In 1993 the Avon valley in Hampshire between Bickton (downstream of Fordingbridge) and Christchurch was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).[20]

In 1996 almost the entire river, from Patney (Wiltshire) to Christchurch, together with its tributaries the Wylye, Nadder, Bourne and Dockens Water, was designated as the River Avon System SSSI.[21]

Conservation initiative[edit]

A four-year project called STREAM began in September 2005. This £1 million project was designed to benefit the habitats of species such as water-crowfoot, Atlantic salmon, brook lamprey, sea lamprey, bullhead, Desmoulin's whorl snail, gadwall and Cygnus columbianus (Berwick's swan).[22] A sister project called Living River ran from 2006 to 2010, aiming to providing better access and recreation, as well as aid biodiversity.[23] Both these projects were shortlisted for the 2009 Thiess International Riverprize, competing against four other projects: the Yellow River in China, Lake Simcoe in Canada, the Polochic Basin in Guatemala and the Lower Owens River in the USA. The prize for 2009 was awarded to Lake Simcoe.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Avon Valley". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ Hoodless, W.A. (2010). Christchurch Curiosities. The History Press Ltd. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7524-5670-6.
  3. ^ Wright, John (2003). Discover Dorset, Rivers and Streams. Wimborne, Dorset.: Dovecote Press. p. 41. ISBN 1-904349-10-2.
  4. ^ "1664 Law Could Prove Right To Row". BBC News. 23 February 2007.
  5. ^ Cross, Donald Alfred Edgar (1970). "The Salisbury Avon Navigation". Industrial Archaeology. David & Charles. VII (2): 121–135.
  6. ^ The National Archives. "Material for the History of Wiltshire Canals: Salisbury Avon Navigation". Your Archives. The National Archives. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  7. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1001229)". National Heritage List for England.
  8. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1000469)". National Heritage List for England.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1001237)". National Heritage List for England.
  10. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1001235)". National Heritage List for England.
  11. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1000440)". National Heritage List for England.
  12. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1000424)". National Heritage List for England.
  13. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1001244)". National Heritage List for England.
  14. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1000298)". National Heritage List for England.
  15. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1000329)". National Heritage List for England.
  16. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1001583)". National Heritage List for England.
  17. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1000097)". National Heritage List for England. Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
  18. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1015675)". National Heritage List for England. Old Sarum schedule ancient hillfort
  19. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1010219)". National Heritage List for England. Thornham Down Scheduled ancient landscape
  20. ^ "Designated SSSI Avon Valley Bickton to Christchurch". Natural England. 2017.
  21. ^ "SSSI detail: River Avon System". Natural England. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  22. ^ Stream project website
  23. ^ Living River Project Website
  24. ^ 2009 International Theiss Riverprize

External links[edit]

Media related to River Avon, Hampshire at Wikimedia Commons