watercourses are on private land and there are few public
viewing sites. The river is unsuitable for boating although it
has been tried by canoe.
The River Axe, from the Cheddington area to Seaton,
forms the southernmost boundary of the parish. It has a large catchment
area and a fall of only about fifty feet over three miles. The Jurassic
soils through which it flows are very soft and variable which makes for
much meandering. South of the Wild Flower Nursery this almost forms an
ox-bow as it turns back on itself. The river is subject to rapid
flash-flooding, especially over the road below Winsham bridge.
Trout used to be regularly seen underneath this road
bridge and salmon have been released further up. Carp have been washed
out of the main lake, as have goldfish out of garden ponds. Minnows are
at times plentiful and lampreys have been seen. The many small brooks
and streams that join the river throughout its length must carry the
usual population of small fish. Growing along the river banks are some
fine plants of angelica, Indian balsom and hemlock.
The main parish stream system cuts diagonally NE/SW.
Starting from the springs beside the road, the Purtington stream flows
under the road and to the old water mill pond below Purtington House.
This pond, now overgrown, was used for the water wheel that powered a
saw for timber cutting. From here it flows into a boggy ten acre area
called Water Mead, now an SSSI. Here the marsh orchids grow to over two
feet tall over the peat and a great number of water plants, from
marigolds to mares tails and great willow herb, supports numbers of
birds, amphibians and insects. At its lower end is an interesting area
of greater tussock sedge. Piped underneath this section is the channel
that took another stream to the top pond at Cricket that was used to
power the main hydraulic ram for the estate.
This second stream rises below Windwhistle Farmhouse.
It flows through a small, soggy area known as 'the weir' that once
powered another ram. This area was noted for its golden saxifrage, marsh
marigolds, figwort and mares tails. Willow tits nested there. Also seen
here is the freshwater shrimp and eels. Then it entered a magnificent
ancient woodland, now replanted, known as pool Copse. The pond was a
home for mallard, teal and moorhens as well as frogs, toads and eels.
Thirty years ago an escaped beaver caused havoc by blocking the exit so
that Purtington Lane was repeatedly flooded. The old piping is now
destroyed so that both streams join to form the lake system for the
Cricket Wildlife Park.
Emerging from the park below the old heavy horse
centre the stream crosses underneath the private road (public footpath)
between Chalkway and Hollowells. Then under the bridge at Hollowells and
down past the old mill, under the road at Whatley Bottom, on to the
bridge in Leigh Lane, at the lower end of a watery meadow. On to another
bridge below Ammerham and down to the Axe.
Amongst the other streams that join the Axe id the
Court Street brook that starts from a spring near the pond below
Stuckeys Farm off High Street. It flows down near the nursery, gathering
some unusual plants, until it 'disappears' down a sink near the
Malthouse. It resurfaces further along the road to flow under the garden
at 'Wings', down parallel with Wynyards Lane, under the road to the Axe.