There is still a working mill at Sturminster Newton. It is open to the public on selected days during the summer. There is also a free car-park and toilet available. The mill is at the start of an excellent walk along the Stour Valley Way. The walk follows the river and also makes its ways across open country and farmers fields to Fiddleford Mill. Fiddleford Mill and the nearby Fiddleford Manor, are about 2 miles away from Sturminster Newton Mill. This section of the river gives the rambler quiet evenly paced walk. It is mostly well away from roads and traffic noise.
The mill at Sturminster Newton is still active and is regularly used to mill flour. It is now managed and run by Sturminster museum for the benefit of the public.
After passing over the weir bridge you are taken across open fields that roughly follow the path of the river albeit sometimes at a distance. The river bank along this stretch still is home to a highly endangered tree - The Black Poplar. The Black Poplar is now so rare there is a significant risk that within the next 20 years it will become extinct.
There has been a mill at Fiddleford for nearly a thousand years. The first reference to a mill was in William the Conquerers Domesday book of 1087. At that time it is believed that the mill was actually on the site now occupied by the 14th century manor house.
The current mill was in use from the 13th century up to the end of the 20th century but now, sadly is disused.
The land at Fiddleford was originally owned by the Abbots of Glastonbury. It is likely that Fiddleford Manor was originally built by William Latimer in the 14th century. Latimer was the sheriff of both Dorset and Somerset and was one of the most powerful individuals in the South of England. Over the years the manor underwent many major redesigns and enhancements. Today the outline of a lost 16th century wing is marked out on the ground for visitors. Fiddleford Manor has been in the same family ownership for approximately 300 years.
During the latter part of the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries, Fiddleford mill, was used to store contraband. This was shipped up river from the coast. No doubt, much of the French brandy, wine, silk aand cloth smuggled ashore at Hengistbury Head and Stanpit Marsh found its way up the river to Fiddleford Mill. From here it would have been quietly distributed around the local area.
There is, incidentally a car park at the Fiddleford end of the river as well. It is quite possible to walk the Stour Valley Way in either direction from Fiddleford Mill through the Sturminster Newton mill.