Canoe Days Out

Dorset - River Stour (Dorset) - Christchurch to Iford Bridge (& return)

This page was submitted by Keith Day (E-mail this submitter)
How to get there - Christchurch is on the south coast, just east of Bournemouth.If you take the A35 from Southampton you will have the added bonus of a drive through the New Forest.

For those with SatNav a nearby postcode is BH23 1JE.

Get a map with driving directions to start (enter the postcode of your starting point at A)

Suggested Launch Site - Park in the public car park in Sopers Lane and launch next to the slipway.

General Description - Set off right. This first part of the river is busy with boats and moorings but as soon as you pass under the road bridge, the charachter starts to change. However, it is never trueley remote.

After passing under a railway bridge and a girder type road bridge, you will pass a small caraval park on the right before moving into the most rural part of this trip. All too quickly you will reach the old bridge at Iford. The modern bridge and shallow weir here mark the limit of the tidal waterway.

Navigation on the non tidal river is disputed but an Act of Parliament of 1796 authorised the creation of a canal from the Stour at Gains Cross, in the Parish of Shillingston Oakford,to the Kennet and Avon Canal at Bradford on Avon. The primary purpose of the scheme was to create a navigable link from the Bristol Channel to the English Channel which demonstrates that the proprietors and the parliament that authorised its construction considered the Stour to be a navigable waterway.

When you get back to the start, if you have time, it is worth continueing past the town quay and exploring the River Avon on the left up to the tidal limit marked by the weir and roadbridge by the remains of the castle. The trip so far is about 5 miles.

You can also explore out into Christchurch Harbour but pick your time. At low tide there are large mudbanks. There can also be very strong tidal flows near the entrance to the harbour (known locally as "The Run").

The photographs have been supplied courtesy of

Comments on this trip

Susan Stockwell
28 Sep 2021
Do you have a copy of or at least the name that I can use at the National Archives to search for the canal act of parliament of 1796 covering the non tidal Iford River

16 Jul 2013
Does the tide affect the river much if leaving from Christchurch quay car park near the sailing club Is the river much faster at low tide here

05 Jul 2013
James actually the when you go past the big bridge with the sign on (New Iford Bridge)you will come to a foot bridge onto the Golf course this also has a sign on and says no canoeists beyond the stone weir. that is in fact the Tidal point of the Stour.

13 Jun 2013
James. Only the river bed and land either side of the river can be owned. The water that flows cannot be owned, and is a public right of way. Permissions may be required where there is a need to get out of the river. There is no excuse or justification for acts of violence by fishermen or bailiffs, and it is a testament to the good nature of most river explorers that those who have been abused by anglers have not pursued them through the courts. Selfdefence on the other hand is legal, and perhaps one day an angler who attacks a canoeist may pick on one who is not so good natured.

09 May 2013
The tidal part of the Avon is actually further up than stated you can carry on beyond the bridge and follow the loop right and back down the Avon again.The Unofficial Tidal line used to be beyond the Bypass bridge and to the shallow rocked Weir but if you head up to there you will end up with an angry bailiff shouting at its best to stay below the Bypass bridge, also if you going under the bridge near the ruins be considerate to any anglers who may be on the Punt.

10 Jan 2013
There is no boating of any kind past the bridge with the big sign saying so !! the area below the wier is a private fishery ! when you reach the bridge you should turn around !! paddle through the likes of Throop not froop at your own risk !! this also is a private fishery ! in basic terms there is no paddling on the stour so stick to the harbour !!

03 Nov 2010
Iv kayaked this part of the river, its a really nice paddle loads of places on the river banks to stop for drinks and food, also if you do go further up that the Iford the weir is cool to get out, walk round, and drop off the weir. Also under Iford bridge has some 'sort of' fast flowing water that is fun to play in. The 'Run' is the channel out of the harbour, no were near the river, don't have to worry about that.My dad has also paddled from froop(the next village the river goes through)to christchurch however alot of it is private land. But can be done.

Nick Walsh
17 Feb 2007
I paddle this section of the Stour and you can actually go further than the bridge without any trouble, I always paddle up to the weir, which is where the fishermens territory begins, either side of the river up to the weir are public foot paths.

David Wilson
05 Feb 2007
As nearly a local to this area (my family all live down there)I would double stress the warning about tidal flows at 'The Run'. On a falling tide, if you get in The Run, you won't be able to return - just go with it, land on the beach to the east and walk back!


Christchurch Harbour
Tide Predictions

Advise me of new trips

The last trip loaded was Great Haywood to Great Haywood (Circular Route) on the River Trent / Trent & Mersey Canal by Peter Robinson