River Wylye

Coordinates: 51°04′45″N 1°51′45″W / 51.07917°N 1.86250°W / 51.07917; -1.86250
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River Wylye
River Wylye at Norton Bavant
CitiesMaiden Bradley, Warminster, Codford St Peter, Wilton
Physical characteristics
SourceRodmead Farm
 • locationMaiden Bradley, Wiltshire, England
 • coordinates51°07′25″N 2°18′11″W / 51.12361°N 2.30306°W / 51.12361; -2.30306
 • elevation148 m (486 ft)
MouthConfluence with River Nadder
 • location
Wilton, Wiltshire, England
 • coordinates
51°04′45″N 1°51′45″W / 51.07917°N 1.86250°W / 51.07917; -1.86250
 • elevation
69 m (226 ft)
Length45 km (28 mi)
Basin size470 km2 (180 sq mi)
 • locationChitterne Brook
 • average0.3 m3/s (11 cu ft/s)
 • minimum0.1 m3/s (3.5 cu ft/s)
 • maximum0.6 m3/s (21 cu ft/s)
Basin features
ProgressionNadder, Avon, English Channel
 • leftChitterne Brook, River Till

The River Wylye (/ˈwli/ WY-lee) is a chalk stream in the south of England, with clear water flowing over gravel. It is popular with anglers for fly fishing.[1] A half-mile stretch of the river and three lakes in Warminster are a local nature reserve.[2][3]


The river at Kingston Deverill

The Wylye rises below the White Sheet Downs just south of Maiden Bradley in south-west Wiltshire, then flows north through the Upper Deverills. A tributary which feeds the man-made Shearwater lake joins near Crockerton.[4] On the southern edge of Warminster the river turns to head generally east south east, running through the Mid Wylye Valley, into which the A36 road and the Wessex Main Line are also squeezed. The river passes through or touches the parishes of Bishopstrow, Norton Bavant, Heytesbury, Knook, Upton Lovell, Boyton, Codford, Stockton, Wylye and Wilton, near the southern edge of Salisbury Plain. At Wilton, it comes to an end, running into the River Nadder, which itself flows into the Hampshire Avon. That eventually drains into the English Channel at Christchurch.

The Wylye forms part of the River Avon drainage basin and is fed by several winterbournes, which commonly dry up completely in the summer, so that the water flow in the river can vary greatly according to the time of year.[5]


Two SSSIs are associated with the river:[6] Steeple Langford Down and Wylye and Church Dean Downs. The Wylye Valley Vineyard is at Crockerton, near the river's source.[7]


Wilton, and hence Wiltshire (which was originally Wiltonshire), are named after the river. There is also a village of Wylye.[citation needed]

In literature[edit]

The River Wylye is one of the five rivers mentioned in Edward Rutherfurd’s novel Sarum.

Water quality[edit]

The Environment Agency measures the water quality of the river systems in England. Each is given an overall ecological status, which may be one of five levels: high, good, moderate, poor and bad. There are several components that are used to determine this, including biological status, which looks at the quantity and varieties of invertebrates, angiosperms and fish. Chemical status, which compares the concentrations of various chemicals against known safe concentrations, is rated good or fail.[8]

Water quality of the Wylye in 2019:

Section Ecological
Length Catchment Channel
Wylye (Headwaters)[9] Poor Fail Poor 19.035 km (11.828 mi) 87.746 km2 (33.879 sq mi)
Wylye (Middle)[10] Moderate Fail Moderate 40.013 km (24.863 mi) 122.421 km2 (47.267 sq mi)
Wylye (Lower)[11] Good Fail Moderate 15.775 km (9.802 mi) 21.74 km2 (8.39 sq mi)


Villages on or near the Wylye include (source to confluence):


  1. ^ "Fishing Breaks". Retrieved 20 November 2007.
  2. ^ "River Wylye". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England.
  3. ^ "Map of River Wylye". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England.
  4. ^ "Wylye (Headwaters)". Environment Agency - Catchment Data Explorer. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  5. ^ "IUCN" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2007.
  6. ^ "English Nature". Retrieved 20 November 2007.
  7. ^ "Fine wine...from Wiltshire vineyards". Wiltshire Times. 19 May 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "Glossary (see Biological quality element; Chemical status; and Ecological status)". Catchment Data Explorer. Environment Agency. 17 February 2016. Text was copied from this source, which is available under an Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.
  9. ^ "Wylye (Headwaters)". Catchment Data Explorer. Environment Agency.
  10. ^ "Wylye (Middle)". Catchment Data Explorer. Environment Agency.
  11. ^ "Wylye (Lower)". Catchment Data Explorer. Environment Agency.
  12. ^ "The Village of Sutton Veny, Wylye Valley". Retrieved 13 June 2008.