Watercress and Winterbournes

Watercress and Winterbournes

River Itchen © Linda Pitkin/2020VISION

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The Rivers Test and Itchen are iconic features of the Hampshire landscape, but the chalk streams that give them life are some of the greatest hidden treasures in the county. These beautiful waters go by many names in our area, from brooks and rivulets to sources and headwaters. Those that only flow during the wet winter months have another name again - winterbournes.

With only around 200 existing worldwide, and most of those in England, chalk streams provide an ecologically rare home for a whole host of wonderful wildlife. Here in Hampshire their cool, oxygenated, alkaline waters provide a uniquely perfect habitat for species like water vole, brown trout, southern damselfly, water crowfoot, and endangered white-clawed crayfish.

Our streams also have another story to tell: that of a landscape shaped by centuries of human activity. Adjacent fields are marked with patterns from old water meadows, while mysterious riverside structures speak of trades ranging from gin distilling to paper production. Today many of these historic industries continue, with our area being famous for watercress growing and fly fishing.

With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Watercress and Winterbournes is telling the story of this vibrant past and building a bright future. This five-year Landscape Partnership Scheme brings together local communities and 16 organisations to restore and celebrate the Bourne Rivulet, Candover Brook, Cheriton Stream, Pillhill Brook, River Arle, Upper Anton, and Upper Test.

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Historic building on the Upper Test

Historic building on the Upper Test

Upcoming events

We're taking a short break at the moment to prepare for our numerous Open Chalk Stream events in August. Please check again soon!

News and blogs

Learn about our streams what we've been up to. You can also read more of our news and more of our blogs.