Canford Magna to Pamphill SUP
A lush, tranquil SUP with no motor boat traffic, so no messy wakes to deal with! An ideal location for the first time river paddle boarder.
≈ Quick Facts:
- River Name: River Stour
- What is the distance: 2.40 miles each way
- How long does it take: 3/4 hour each way
- Shelter from wind: Any direction if light
- Best tide: Anytime – Not tidal
- Pay To park: No
- Parking distance: 5 minute walk
- Do you pay to launch: No
- SUP rental: Yes – South Coast SUP
- Wildlife: Swans, May Flies & Kingfishers
- Eat & Drink: None
- Toilets: No
- Hazards: Swans in May/June & Steep bank for launching
≈ Location Guide:
Where to park & launch a SUP in Canford Magna?
You will be paddle boarding along the River Stour, launching next to Canford School by the Canford Rowing Club and heading towards Pamphill on the edge of Wimborne. You need to park on Oakley Lane off Canford Magna road in Canford Magna. Look for the brown Canford Parish church sign. Get there early though, there’s only room available for about 10 cars, but parking is totally FREE.
Stunning scenery on Oakley Lane
There are two options for launching at Canford Magna; the first option is to scramble down the river bank next to the small suspension bridge just in front of the Canford Weir. To get there you will need to carry your board across the grass area towards the river. Keep the school and church on your right until you see the CANFORD sign.
At the bottom there is a public footpath which you can access via a wooden gate on the left. You then need to walk about 50 metres until you see a footbridge on the right. There is a sandy path just to the left of this, hidden amongst the trees, that will take you down to the river bank. It’s a bit tricky to launch here as you are dropping the board a few feet down a slippery, muddy bank. The second option is to walk on a further hundred metres along the public path to the Canford Rowing Club and try to sweet talk them in to letting you use their slipway. This would make for a much easier launch. The Club is shut on Sundays, so what you can do is slide your board over the top of the fence and hop over, it’s only about 1.5 metres high. There is a floating pontoon here that you can launch from. Much less hazardous than tackling the muddy bank further up.
What is there to see on the river?
Paddle boarding this stretch of the Stour is a very tranquil experience, it is very lush with a high density of trees and flowers lining the banks. The river is wide and straight, about the same width as the Christchurch end of the Stour.
View from Canford Bridge
The pretty suspension bridge at Canford Magna sets the scene straight away. You can’t paddle to the right of the bridge as you will be blocked by a weir not much further up, unless of course you want to take your SUP for a walk!
Always paddle going left. After a few flicks of the paddle you will pass the Canford Rowing Club on the left.
Canford rowing club slipway
A word of warning, in the Spring swans can be quite protective of their young and will try and take a chunk out of you if you get too close. On one paddle in May we had a swan fly straight at us and proceed to circle above us until we had moved on. They are pretty chilled out later on in the season, the young are almost as big as the parents by August. The only other traffic that you’re likely to encounter are a few people pottering about in green rowing boats rented from a small pontoon located further along the river.
Mike – author
One small negative with this SUP is that there are not many places to stop for a rest. The first is a miniscule beach on your right approximately 1.5 miles, but this is totally overgrown in the Summer. The next is a beach at about 2 miles from Canford Magna situated on the left, accessible all year. Most of the river Stour on this stretch is very quiet but after passing the rowing club you will need to paddle under the A31 Wimborne Bypass bridge which will wake you up a bit, it is surprisingly noisy.
A31 Wimborne Bypass bridge
On the other side of the bridge is Brook Road industrial estate on your right. This area is currently being redeveloped with waterside housing. Not much further up from here is Canford Bridge, a very grand old stone built structure with three large arches, built in the 1800s, at Oakley Hill. This serves the B3073 which takes you in to the Wimborne town center.
You can paddle through the arches and meander past a line of expensive riverside houses situated on your left. Quite often there are people sat at the bottom of their gardens fishing and enjoying the sun. Looks idilic until I heard later that the mozzies can be a real problem around here at night, you literally get eaten alive!
Expensive houses just past Canford Bridge
The next stretch of the river after this is tree lined, kingfisher central, until finally opening out into a collection of livestock fields at about 2 miles. You will then find on your left a very inviting stony beach jutting out in to the river, an ideal spot to have a rest and a cheeky picnic. If you’re lucky you might have a gaggle of sheep waiting to welcome you ashore.
After this rest point it’s not much further to paddleboard to Julian’s Bridge, the nearest point of the river to Wimborne. Word of warning though, the river progressively narrows as you approach the bridge, this can increase the strength of the current running against you, can make it quite challenging, might bring you to a complete standstill. It’s worth the effort though, Julian’s bridge is an impressive sight, and very conveniently there is also a stony beach here where you can sit and take in the whole view. This is where I usually turn back for Canford Magna.
It is a highly enjoyable SUP with plenty to look at along the way. On one memorable SUP I was lucky enough to see my very first Kingfisher. He was sat on a branch, at eye level, over hanging the river. He then suddenly dived for a fish literally a few feet in front of my board! I was amazed as they are apparently very shy!