A Paddle up the Piddle

It had to be. If a river deigns to be called Piddle, it is certainly worthy of exploration.The Piddle flows through Puddletown, Tolpuddle, Affpuddle and Briantspuddle before meandering through Wareham and into Poole Harbour. There must be a certain titillation about its name, for it has obviously been adjusted so as not to embarrass the gentle folk of Dorset. In Wikipedia the suggestion was made that this was to avoid the mortification of Queen Victoria. However, the inhabitants of Puddletown must be less sensitive as they held on to the name Piddletown until the 1950s. The river’s identity can be further refined, by referring to it as the Trent.As usual, we had no concrete plans for our trip, but we did know the time for high water. Using our OS map and our abilities to navigate ‘map to ground’, we set off from Hamworthy to the opposite shore of Poole Harbour and identified our exact position. After a break for lunch, we paddled up Wareham Channel and when level with Gigger’s Island, headed north into the broad entrance of the Piddle. At times we had to ‘feel’ our way into the main channel of the river. However, once away from the mouth, we were in an idyllic environment of clear waters, dancing damselflies and towering vegetation, which hid the calling wild fowl from sight. A pair of swans with their twin cygnets slowed our progress, barking and hissing aggressively, until they took refuge in the shelter of a meander.


Along the banks are jetties, their construction alluding to bygone times. Our conversations turned to smugglers and poachers and illegal activities.


This was a real journey of discovery and we are wondering whether we can paddle further up the Piddle beyond Wareham.

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