The Test downstream of Sadler's Mill, Romsey
River Test highlighted in red, shown in South East England
|• location||Ashe, near Overton, Hampshire, United Kingdom|
|• elevation||90 m (300 ft)|
|Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom|
|0 m (0 ft)|
|Site of Special Scientific Interest|
River Test at Tufton
|Area of Search||Hampshire|
|Area||438.0 hectares (1,082 acres)|
|Location map||Magic Map|
The River Test is a river in Hampshire, England. It has a total length of 40 miles (64 km) and it flows through downland from its source near Ashe to its estuary at Southampton, where it converges with the River Itchen to form Southampton Water. In its upper reaches it is a chalk stream, and is used for fly fishing for trout. Much of the river's course is followed by the Test Way.
The river rises near the village of Ashe, 10 km to the west of Basingstoke (at grid reference ), and flows west through the villages of Overton, Laverstoke, and the town of Whitchurch, before joining with the Bourne Rivulet at Testbourne and turning in a more southerly direction. It then proceeds through the villages of Longparish and Middleton to Wherwell and Chilbolton, where the Rivers Dever and Anton join.
From Chilbolton the river goes through the villages of Leckford, Longstock, Stockbridge and Houghton to Mottisfont and Kimbridge, where the River Dun joins the flow. From here the village of Timsbury is passed, then through the grounds of Roke Manor before reaching the town of Romsey. On the western edge of Romsey, Sadler's Mill, an 18th-century watermill, sits astride the River Test.
South of Romsey, the river passes the country house of Broadlands, and then Nursling, once the site of a Roman bridge. Finally the river is joined by the River Blackwater and soon becomes tidal, widening out into a considerable estuary that is lined on its northern bank by the container terminals and quays of the Port of Southampton. The Test estuary then meets that of the River Itchen and the two continue to the sea as Southampton Water.
Between Chilbolton and Redbridge, the river was once paralleled by the Andover Canal, which was itself converted to a railway in 1865, and then in turn abandoned. Most traces of the canal have disappeared, although the remains of a stretch can still be seen between Timsbury and Romsey.
This chalk stream has one of the richest fauna and flora of any lowland river in England. More than 100 species of flowering plant have been recorded along its banks and 232 invertebrate taxa in the river. It is also important for wetland birds, with breeding species including kingfishers, grey wagtails and little grebes.
When the Watership rabbits are pursued by an enemy force, one rabbit carries out a plan which leads to their successful escape down the Test on a punt. In the text, we are told that this plan would not have been possible on most rivers, but the Test's smooth-flowing, weed-free nature makes it an exception. The punt becomes lodged on a low bridge, and the surviving rabbits are forced to swim under the bridge to the riverbank.
- Tanners Brook
- Wimpson stream (historically, due to the extension of the docks it now merges with Tanners Brook just before it reaches the Test)
- River Blackwater
- River Dun
- Wallop Brook
- River Anton
- River Dever
- Bourne Rivulet
- River Swift
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- Ordnance Survey (1995). OS Landranger Map 185 – Winchester and Basingstoke. ISBN 0-319-22185-7.
- Burgess, Lawrence (1982). The Streams and Watercourses Of Southampton. Friends of Old Southampton. p. 4.
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