Tuesday, 25 December 2018


Rob's car blew up last night. It's a right old banger anyway, and he's had more than his money's worth from it, but choosing to die on a single-carriageway section of the A35 at 10:30pm was a bit naughty. I trundled over in the van and towed him home. At least it was the right side of Dorchester and the traffic was light. So this morning I gave Rob a lift in to work. He's cooking the Christmas lunch menu at The Thimble Inn, Piddlehinton. On the way back through Dorchester I pulled over in order to take a look at the river. It's the River Frome, and regular readers may remember that it provided Rob with his first-ever grayling back in February, though further downstream at Wool...

Rob with our only fish of the day. The 'Beast from the East' was biting hard, which meant the grayling weren't.

The Frome is narrow where it flows through Dorchester, and while it was certainly tanking through at some pace, there was very little colour in it, which I guess is the norm for a chalk stream. I wandered in the drizzle along a riverside footpath until I came across an ancient sluice, took a photo, and then retraced my steps...

I would imagine that a photo taken in the same spot, when those sluice gates were all shiny and new, would likely have featured no houses at all in the background.

The river splits at this point, and as you can tell from the ironwork, there were once a set of sluice gates across the other branch of the stream too. As I stood there in the murk, carefully avoiding a seriously-pancaked dog turd, I surveyed the weathered steel, the remnants of old masonry, and wondered what had once been their purpose. A bit of googling tells me that they were used to divert water from the main river out onto the adjacent water meadows. Regular flooding of the meadows in winter apparently allowed more grass to be grown to feed the local dairy cattle. And if your imagination is vivid enough, you might be able to see a heavily-moustachioed chap in Edwardian flat cap, shirt-sleeves and waistcoat, clay pipe smouldering gently, using a heavy crank to winch open the sluices...

And that's one of the endearing things about rivers. Very frequently you encounter signs of by-gone times, interesting artefacts that give you a glimpse into the past. That's just one of many reasons why I love rivers. Whenever I am beside one, whether standing, sitting or strolling along, I cannot help but be struck by their timelessness.

Hopefully this is something I'll come back to in future posts...


  1. There's a place to live Gav. The river Frome flowing just across the meadow out front.
    Nearest I have is the inch deep River Pinn. It does have fish in there though - minnows of all things have appeared.

    1. I remember exploring that river as kids. It's still the only place I've seen stone loach.