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Cowgrove (Wimborne) SUP

Cowgrove is the ideal SUP location on the river Stour if you want to escape from civilisation and get immersed in the local wildlife.

Cowgrove

≈ Quick Facts:

  • River Name: River Stour
  • What is the distance: 4 miles round trip
  • How long does it take: 3 hours at a leisurely pace
  • Shelter from wind: Any direction if light
  • Best Tide:  Anytime – Not tidal
  • Pay To Park: No
  • Parking Distance: 10 second walk
  • Do you pay to launch: No
  • SUP Rental: No
  • Wildlife: swans, otters, deer, kingfishers & cattle
  • Eat & Drink: No
  • Toilets: No
  • Hazards: Strong current after rain. Wear shoes – Need to wade through shallows

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≈ Location Guide:

Where to park & launch a SUP in Cowgrove?


Road

Map

Drive out of Wimborne on the B3802 Victoria road, turn left at the sign for Wimborne Football Club. Drive for about 1 mile along Cowgrove Road until you see a small car park on the left. In the Winter and offpeak months only the small car park is open. There is only enough space for about 10 vehicles, so get there early!

cowgrove car park

In the summer they open up a second parking area, but unfortunately this one has a hight barrier so I’m out of luck with my high top van! They close it in the winter due to it getting really boggy from the river flooding. (see the satellite image above) You don’t have to pay to park and there isn’t a toilet so bring plenty of hedge tickets! The launch is about as easy as it gets, there is a shallow slipway adjacent to the parking area. Turn right once you have launched, If you turn left you’ll be rattling down a weir.

What is there to see on the river?
Once you have launched on to the river Stour you immediately paddle to the right under the Cowbridge foot bridge (Eyebridge).

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From here onward you will be SUPing past fields full of a variety of livestock. If your’e lucky they will be at the waters edge. They are comical when they see me drift by, they can’t decide whether to bolt or come and say hello, not sure what to make of me on the paddleboard.  I met one very curious Highland Cow who looked very impressive towering over me on the river bank, they are the coolest cow, they look like gigantic teddy bears.

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On this SUP you really are getting away from civilisation, there isn’t any housing on this stretch at all, and after a few hundred yards even the path running along the river comes to an end. Except for the odd kayaker I usually have the whole river to myself, you don’t even get boats on this stretch, it’s way too shallow.

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Watch out for the swans, they take off parallel to the river banks, they look as big as a jumbo jet when flying straight at you! Remember to duck!

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On the subject of wildlife, apparently there are otters in the vicinity but I’ve never seen any. I’ve seen deer coming down to the river’s edge, not frightened of me at all, and usually see numerous kingfishers and the odd buzzard. This stretch of the river stour is ideal for picnicing, there’s loads of small stoney beaches dotted along the river making it very easy to stop off for a 5 minute rest or to have a bite to eat. I had a good old chat with a friendly kayaker at one of these spots.

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You have to be careful to not take your fin off, some parts are not even a half a foot deep, You’ll know if it’s getting too shallow by the white water foaming ahead of you. It’s not a big problem, you’ll have to jump off and walk through until you hit deep water again (it very stoney so advisable to wear shoes on this SUP). After about 2 miles you’ll be stopped in your tracks by a weir alongside the Coventry Arms. There used to be a mill at this point tapping in to the river, I’ve no idea whether it’s still operable.PA150405

The river by-passes this weir to the right but after another few hundred yards you hit a second weir, game over, that’s as far as you can go on this SUP!

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8 Responses

  1. Danny Street says:

    Thank you for finding this route, we paddled it today on two SUPs and it was amazing! On our doorstep and never knew. Current was easy to paddle through, couple of shallow points but beautiful route! Look like they may have made the car park larger now space for 20+ cars but no problem parking.

    • SUP HQ says:

      Awesome news Danny, cheers for that. That’s always been the big negative with paddleboarding this spot, you never know whether you’re gonna bag a space or not. It’s a super popular spot for local dog walkers and the like. Must head up there to have a look!

  2. Paul says:

    AMAZING LOCATION.
    One thing not mentioned in the above comments, is the fact that if the weather has been bad (raining) for a few days, this river swells.
    At no point when we went on Monday 23rd may, was it too shallow to paddle. It took us 2 1/2 hours and was not what i would call a easy paddle.
    The current was SO strong in a lot of places, that no matter how hard you paddle you do not go anywhere (apart from backwards).
    2 hours to get to the weir and only 30 mins on the way back.
    Beautiful scenery and we didn’t see a single person (apart from in the car park).
    I would recommend this route, but you need to choose your days carefully.
    If your looking for a chilled out paddle, go after a stint of good weather. On the other hand if your looking for a picturesque training paddle, go after or during bad weather.
    We both had one HELL of a workout!!

    • SUP HQ says:

      Haha got to laugh Paul, I had the very same experience on my last SUP here. Was going nowhere fast!!! I came unstuck where the river narrows quite a bit just up from the launch spot, caused the flow to increase dramatically. Defo not a place to go after a huge downpour. Many thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. t says:

    SUP’d this today and loved it. Great little route I might never have found, thanks 🙂

    Reeds snagging my fin were a challenge in parts but otherwise all great, just enough water to not have to worry about the bottom and current easy enough o paddle against.

  4. Mark Edwards says:

    Paddled this yesterday reeds were a bit of a challenge stopped me in my tracks once or twice but my touring board does have a long fin. Maybe don’t take your best paddle as you will hit it against the river bed a few times. Fun coming back with the current lots of wildlife

    • SUP HQ says:

      Hi Mark, yes the river tends to be a lower during the Summer months due to prolonged periods without rain. Totally worth the effort though! Glad you persevered 🙂

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