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River Itchen, Hampshire


River Itchen, Hampshire


The Itchen near Avington
Country England
County Hampshire
 - left Candover Stream
 - right Cheriton Stream
 - location New Cheriton, Hampshire, England
Mouth Southampton Water
 - location Southampton, Hampshire
Length 45 km (28 mi)
Basin 400 km2 (154 sq mi)
Discharge for Riverside Park [1]
 - average 5.3 m3/s (187 cu ft/s)
 - min 1.75 m3/s (62 cu ft/s) 14 August 1995
Discharge elsewhere (average)
 - Highbridge, Hampshire 5.4 m3/s (191 cu ft/s)
 - Easton, Hampshire 4.3 m3/s (152 cu ft/s)
Wikimedia Commons:

The River Itchen (previously also known as the River Alre[2][3]) is a river in Hampshire, England. It flows from mid-Hampshire to join with Southampton Water below the Itchen Bridge in the city of Southampton. The river has a total length of 28 miles (45 km), and is noted as one of the world's premier chalk streams for fly fishing,[4] especially using dry fly or nymphing techniques. The local chalk in the earth provides excellent filtration and thus watercress thrives all along the Itchen valley in its once pristine, crystal clear waters, now affected by pollution by some farming practices. It is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is noted for its high quality habitats, supporting a range of protected species including the endangered water vole,[5]otter, brook lamprey[6] and white-clawed crayfish.

The river is managed by the Environment Agency, whilst the Port of Southampton is the navigation authority for the tidal section below Swaythling.

During Roman Britain, the river may have been associated with the Celtic goddess Ancasta.


  • Etymology 1
  • Course 2
  • Pollution 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The origin of the name is thought to be very ancient and pre-Celtic; the meaning is unknown. The settlement of Itchen Abbas on the river is given as Icene in the Domesday Book of 1086.[7]


'The Weirs' on the Itchen in Winchester.
The tidal river – the Itchen Bridge can be seen in the distance.

The source of the Itchen is situated just south of the village of Cheriton. Initially the river flows north, through the villages of Cheriton and Tichborne, before joining up with its tributaries the River Alre and the Candover Brook, just below the town of New Alresford. The river then flows west down the upper Itchen Valley passing the villages of Avington, Itchen Stoke, Itchen Abbas, Martyr Worthy, Easton, and Abbots Worthy. Before entering the historic city of Winchester it crosses Winnall Moors.[8]

The river flows in several different channels through the city of Winchester, some of which come close enough to Winchester Cathedral to have caused serious problems to the building's foundations in earlier years. The main channel flows through Winchester City Mill and to the east of the city's Roman walls, along a promenaded reach known as 'The Weirs'.

The river then heads south, through a series of water meadows, passing the Hospital of St Cross, the villages of Twyford and Shawford, between the town of Eastleigh and the village of Bishopstoke and through Itchen Valley Country Park before reaching the northern suburbs of Southampton at Mansbridge. Between Winchester and Mansbridge, sections of the river were once deepened or widened as part of the long disused Itchen Navigation, and the former towpath forms part of the Itchen Way.[9]

Monks Brook flows into the Itchen at Swaythling, and the river then passes under Woodmill Bridge and becomes tidal. Four further bridges cross the river before its confluence with the River Test estuary in Southampton Water:

Between the latter 2 bridges, the river passes St Mary's Stadium, the home of Southampton F.C. As the river joins onto Southampton Water it passes the major mixed-development on the eastern side of the river in Woolston, called Centenary Quay.


In recent years there have been attempts to reduce possible phosphate pollution from commercial watercress businesses such as Vitacress Salads and the Watercress company. There is an ambition for compliance by 2016.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Marsh, T; Hannaford, J, eds. (2008). UK Hydrometric Register (PDF). Hydrological data UK series. Wallingford, Oxfordshire: Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.  
  2. ^ Knight, Charles (1867). Geography: The English Cyclopaedia, Volume IV. London: Bradbury, Evans. p. 631. 
  3. ^ Camden, William (1586). Britannia. 
  4. ^ Taylor, Howard. "Upstream Dry Fly Fishing". Ringwood BH24 4HS, United Kingdom: Dry Fly Fishing Ltd. Archived from the original on 1 February 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2012. The pristine rivers of Southern England offer the world's premier trout fly fishing ... We consider ourselves very fortunate to have access to the most beautiful and quintessentially English private estate fly fishing beats on the famous river Test, the river Dever, the river Itchen and the Hampshire Avon. 
  5. ^ "Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust" (PDF). 2008. 
  6. ^ "Fact file on the River Itchen" (PDF). Environment Agency. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 February 2006. Retrieved 7 February 2006. 
  7. ^ Mills, David (2011), A Dictionary of British Place-Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-960908-6 (p. 259)
  8. ^ Ordnance Survey (2004). OS Explorer Map 132 – Winchester, New Alresford & East Meon. ISBN 0-319-23601-3.
  9. ^ Ordnance Survey (2004). OS Explorer Map OL22 – New Forest. ISBN 0-319-23616-1.
  10. ^ Holt, John; Anne Cole (February 1992). A bend in the River. Southampton: Bitterne Local History Society. 
  11. ^

External links

  • Map source for the and
  • River Itchen Archaeology Project Home Page
  • Pictures from around the river itchen from source to its mouth

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