A simply stunning river in Hampshire, the River Itchen is a chalk stream river with plenty to offer in terms of history and wildlife.
Only around 200 chalk streams are known globally, and 85% of these are found in the UK. They are a rare and delicate habitat, home to many species of wildlife and fish.
It is an important chalk stream fishery so anglers protect the River Itchen. And, for this reason, paddlers rarely take to the long stretches of the Itchen.
The river itself runs for 28 miles, through the historic town of Winchester. It touches the edge of the South Downs National Park, before flowing towards the sea. The river becomes tidal below Swaythling, and enters the Solent at Southampton.
Between Winchester and Mansbridge (Gators Mill), sections of the river were once deepened or widened. People paddle the short section between Woodmill Outdoor Centre and Gators Mill is regularly. Woodmill Weir is a popular playspot here.
In terms of flora and fauna, the Itchen Valley and surrounding area has high quality habitats. You can see animals such as the endangered watervole, otter and brook lamprey.
Along the banks of the River Itchen you can see weeping willows and thick, green hedgerows. There are several marinas and boatyards along the way. Further upstream are water mills and old thatched cottages.