A guide to riverside walks in Wareham...
Wareham is nestled in between the River Frome and the River Piddle which flow through Wareham on their way to Poole Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world. The result is that Wareham’s surrounding riverside and water meadows are areas of outstanding beauty than are really worth exploring.
River Frome walk from Wareham Quay
One of Warehams most popular riverside walks and part of the Purbeck Way…
River Frome walk from Wareham Quay to Redclyffe
Location: The footpath can be accessed over the bridge, opposite the Quay.
The River Frome is one of the most westerly chalk rivers in England and an important breeding for river for Salmon, as well as an attraction for a number of waterbirds and other wildlife. The name ‘Frome’ is an old Celtic river name, first used in the 9th century and probably means ‘fine’ or ‘fair’.
This is one of Warehams most popular riverside walks and part of the Purbeck Way – recognised as an area of ‘Outstanding Natural Beauty.’ The walk is only a 10 – 15 minutes stroll each way and takes you down towards Redclyffe and Ridge.
There are some stunning views of Wareham, overlooking the Priory Hotel gardens and the Priory Church of Lady St Mary. Towards the end of the riverside path you can enjoy looking at the variety of boats moored near the Redclyffe Yacht Club. The Yacht Club was founded in 1933 by Percy F. Westerman, a prolific author of children’s adventure stories. He lived on a barge near the current clubhouse. The pathway is well maintained (can be muddy in the winter) and has some interesting information boards along the route.
Free fishing is available from the town bridge downstream to the marina, with the majority of the fishing on the south bank. Free fishing is also from the Quay car park area on the north bank, by the bridge. This popular spot is well known for catching roach, winter pike, carp, perch and grayling, as well as salmon, trout, mullet, flounder, bass and others.
Only a Rod Licence is required. To reduce the risk to fish while they’re spawning, the traditional close season operates here 15th March to the 15th June. Wessex bye-laws also apply. Enquiries: Purbeck Angling shop, South Street – Tel. 01929 550 770.
Alternative Frome walk on opposite bank…
There is also a marked footpath accessed at the bottom of the graveyard of the Priory Church of St Mary, on the opposite side of the bank. This pathway is not so well maintained and can often be overgrown. Some areas have been laid with planks and wooden walkways. It can be very muddy in winter.
Take the Piddle !
The word ‘Piddle’ comes from the Saxon word word – ‘pidelle’ – which means ‘marsh’ or ‘boggy ground’…
The River Piddle comes from an old English word which means ‘marsh’ or ‘fen’, dating back to at least the 10th century.
A very pretty countryside walk along the River Piddle can be accessed from the North walls. Take the path down to the North Mill near to the North end of Mill Lane. This path takes you to Wareham Common where cattle or ponies can often be found grazing.
Follow the pathway, past the meadow and take the gate next to the river, under the bridge. You will then come to a very pretty area where the river is very shallow, popular for picnics and paddling in the river. There’s also quite a good chance that you’ll see swans floating lazily along, and if you’re really lucky you may see the iridescent blue flash of a Kingfisher! There is an information board by the gate at the end of the field. You can also walk past the farmhouse to the bridge, where you can watch the rushing water of the Weir at Westmill. There are further walks and pathways under the railway bridge.
A good map of this riverside pathway can be found in the Dorset Council, called ‘Two Rivers Walks’. There are two walking options of 1.5 and 4 hours. The short walks takes you along Wareham Common and the long includes some of the walls as well as Bestwall Park, Wareham Meadows and Swineham. Bestwall Park is the site of a former gravel pit which has been filled in to create a lake. The site is also notable for the important archaeological finds here. Both Bestwall Park and Wareham Meadows are an important wetland conservation area that is very popular with birdwatchers.
The Two Rivers Walk map can be downloaded for free from the Dorset Council Website.