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

Wimborne Minster sup b

≈ 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.

P1090048bStunning 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.

P1090079bCanford School at the bottom of Oakley Lane

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.

DSC00359bThe pontoon at the Rowing Club

looking at a sup locationWhat 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.


river bView 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!

Canford Foot Bridge

Always paddle going left. After a few flicks of the paddle you will pass the Canford Rowing Club on the left.

Canford Rowing Club Ramp bCanford 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 - canford magnaMike – 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.

SUP under A31 Wimborne Bypass bridge bA31 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.

SUP to Canford Bridge bCanford Bridge

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!

SUP past posh houses bExpensive 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.

SUP Rest PointBeach

The view from the field above the beach is impressive, you can see the Wimborne Minster in the distance with a scattering of properties on the edge of the town.

wimborne minster close up bView from the rest point towards Wimborne Minster

This is also a great spot to take a dip if you’re starting to melt in the mid Summer heat!!! 

Stour swim break

mike swimming in stour mike swimming in stour 1 Andy swimming in stour Andy swimming in stour 2

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.

Julians Bridge Wimborne SUP1Julian’s Bridge

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!

IMAG0445bJo looking out for Kingfishers, we weren’t disappointed!


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12 Responses

  1. David says:

    Did this paddle last summer (2016) and it is a great scenic paddle and a good choice when winds make the coastal paddles a bit of a pain. Best to stay out of the way when they are rowing and you get a cheery thank you from them. The only issue we had was “swan central” on the meander where the big houses are. We had to very gingerly paddle through this bit on our knees. There had to have been a few dozen irate swans but they were better on the return journey.

  2. Hol says:

    Total paddle board newbie… I have a question. On the way down to Julian’s bridge do you go against the current of the river and when you turn you ride back with the current?

    • SUP HQ says:

      Hi Holly, the only time I’ve experienced any kind of current issues here is when there has been a lot of rain the previous few days. All that water has got to go somewhere. 🙂

  3. Richard Stroud says:

    Did this for the first time after finding your site last week and have now completed it 4 times! I do have a full time job and a family too…
    New to this and really enjoying it. Kids like to come out and have a go too. They use their kayaks and occasionally hijack my SUP.
    I’m the one on the Welsh SUP, you’ll know it if you see it.
    I would say there are three sections that need a bit of a manic paddle to get past to get to the bridge but maybe that’s because i’m new…

    • SUP HQ says:

      Hi Richard, Great to hear that you’re finding our website so useful! I have been in discussions with Dreamboats today. They have just confirmed that they are happy for paddleboarders to launch from their pontoon providing that it is for personal use and NOT for business purposes. Great news, it can be a tad perilous entering via the slippery river bank!!

      • Richard Stroud says:

        Thats great, I have launched from there before and they seemed fine. It was a weekend so the staff were present and were friendly.
        I prefer to launch from canford area for the route as it is more of a – ‘there and back again’ but to be honest having tackled the mud the other day to get out by the suspension bridge I’m getting a bit put off by it..especially with the added risk of my isup getting a puncture from bits of wood sticking out from the bank!

  4. David says:

    Just a quick question. I was talking to someone today and they said that there had been problems with someone who owned one of the riverside houses upstream from Canford Bridge. The owner said that they were trespassing and shouldn’t be paddling there. To my knowledge this section is free to paddle right the way up to Julian’s bridge (so I guess navigation rights?). I personally think he just gets a bit miffed with people going past and wants to try to stop people. I have never had a problem so wondered if anyone else knew the legal situation or had a problem there?

    • SUP HQ says:

      Hi David, haha that sounds like a serious case of nimbyism by the householder to me. We’ve as much rite to use that stretch of water as they have to glare at it. Strange one though I have had some of those same properties wave to me as I pass by, I wonder what provoked them to react in such a way. All I can suggest is to just give them a wide berth when you pass by. 😉

      • David says:

        Yeah, I have had no problem but I put my happy head on and say hello to everyone. It doesn’t give them chance to be grumpy.

  5. Dean says:

    Great site and really useful with all the routes added, look forward to trying some out ( paddleboard newbie).
    Quick question, can you get out at Julian’s bridge? Is there a way to walk up to the road? Cheers

    • SUP HQ says:

      Hi Dean, many thanks for getting in touch. I believe that it is private land on both sides of the bridge so you could potentially be trespassing to attempt to launch your SUP from the bridge. Please chip in people if you have any useful info on this. cheers 🙂

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