Monday, May 25, 2015

Up the River Stour, Christchurch

Christchurch lies at the confluence of the Rivers Stour and Avon, just east of Bournemouth along the Dorset coast.   With a secure harbour and easy inland access up the river, the town (originally known as Twynham) has always been an important trading, smuggling, and defense point.
I usually see the town only on side view as I zip past on the A338 to Ringwood.  Occasionally, if meandering towards the New Forest parks, I'll stop at Mudeford Quay, straddling the entrance to Christchurch Harbour, for crab sandwiches or stormwatching,
I'm overdue for a good exploration of the town, so took advantage of the Bank holiday and a walking map in Dorset Magazine to spend time walking.  The areas along the rivers and harbour are nicer than the town itself, which seems crowded and common with the flea market dominating the main road.
A good walk begins at the Priory: the most visible landmark, an 11th-14th century monastery established where the rivers flow into the tidal estuary at Place Mill.  The church is one of the larger ones built in England, and (with help) I followed the architectural changes where the nave was extended an additional story, and the addition of the Lady Chapel.
  
Outside, there is a nice walk along parks bordering the River Stour.  It's mostly high-end homes and boats along the north side, boardwalks through the southern marshlands are accessible via the Wick Ferry.

   
It became a walk/sit, walk/eat, walk/read, walk/coffee sort of 'casual morning, relaxed and warm.  I fiddled with improving the light and composition in my photos, 'took some notes for the upcoming week.

On second visit, I'm most likely to explore further upriver, renting one of the kayaks and getting either further into the tidal marshes or up past the main bridge, where homes and sailboats give way to woodlands and wildflowers.

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