I had accepted an invitation to the Apsley Estate near Hurstbourne Priors, for a guided tour of the Bourne. The invitation was to see the stretch of water described by Harry Plunkett Greene in ‘Where the Bright Waters Meet’. My journey West was uneventful except for the SatNav which proudly declared that I had arrived at my destination while waiting at the traffic lights outside Boots in the centre of Winchester !
It was a cold blustery day which was very appropriate as Harry had repeatedly complained about the North East wind that blows down the Bourne Valley. The Bourne Valley is a beautiful place, not part of the normal world. It is quintessentially English, peaceful and oozing charm. I had entered a time warp and felt privileged to be in such a calming environment.
The plan was to visit the places featured in the book and compare the Bourne in 1902 to 2016. The river was in fine, winter condition and I saw several good fish. I walked upstream towards the Iron Bridge where I paused to look over the railings. I can never resist looking over a bridge parapet.
The river at the Sawmill was every anglers dream. A large header pool had been built in the 17th century to provide a constant supply of water for the mill. The pool was calm with rising trout and the mill race was a torrent of white water. Both were very therapeutic.
It was icy cold so we adjourned to the pub for a pint and lunch. We finished the tour with a visit to the Bright Waters just below the viaduct. The Bourne had hardly changed, the eastern arm of the river was a little overgrown but otherwise it could have been 1902.
On the long journey home, the SatNav refused to talk to me. I think it was sulking because I had taken a short cut. When I arrived home my mind was in a whirl of crystal clear water, rising trout and deep pools. The next time I read his book I will recall my visit and know exactly where Harry was standing and how he felt.