Watercress and Winterbournes

Watercress and Winterbournes

River Itchen © Linda Pitkin/2020VISION


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.

Email the team

Upcoming events


Nature and Storytelling in the Test Valley
28 September, 7.30 - 8.30pm
Join storyteller Amanda Kane-Smith as she explores how local legends help us connect with the natural world.
Book ticket

Photographing Chalk Streams: A Two Year Story
19 October, 7 - 8pm
Hear how photographer Dick Hawkes captured rare wildlife and habitats, and see some of his amazing images.
Book ticket

News and blogs

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