- River Stour, Dorset
The River Stour is a 60.5
mile(97 km) long riverwhich flows through Wiltshireand Dorsetin southern England, and drains into the English Channel. It is sometimes called the Dorset Stour to distinguish it from rivers of the same name. The source of the river is at Stourhead, in Wiltshire, where it forms a series of artificial lakeswhich are part of the Stourhead estate owned by the National Trust. It flows south into Dorset through the Blackmore Valeand the towns of Gillingham and Sturminster Newton, where it is joined by the River Lydden. At Blandford Forumthe river breaks through the chalkridge of the Dorset Downs, and from there flows south east into the heathlands of south east Dorset. At Wimborne Minsterit is joined by the River Allen, and at its estuaryat Christchurch it is joined by the River Avon before it flows into the English Channel.
For many miles the river is followed by the route of the now disused
Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway, which bridged the river five times.
Because much of the river's course is across
claysoil, the river's waterlevel varies greatly. In summer, low water level makes the river a diverse and important habitat, supporting many rare plants. In winter, the river often floods, and is therefore bordered by wide and fertile flood plains.
A number of towns and villages in Dorset are named after the river, including East and
West Stour, Stourpaine, Stourton Caundle, Stour Row, Stour Provost, Sturminster Newton, and Sturminster Marshall. Sturminster Newton is famous for its water milland town bridge, which still bears the notice warning potential vandals that damaging the bridge is punishable by penal transportation.
Rivers of the United Kingdom
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