The Stour Valley way exits Wimborne on the Western side just before you reach Julians Bridge on the B3078. The origins of Julians bridge date back to the 17th century but it was extensively modified in the 19th century to be more-or-less what there is today. Unfortunately the amount of road traffic crossing the bridge is quite heavy. A pedestrian needs to take care. There is no pavement and you may well need to make use of one of the refuges on bridge while crossing it. But you do not need to actually cross the bridge! As the Stour Valley Way diverts along the river bank just to the side of a new (in 2021) housing development.
When I recently did this walk I crossed Julian's bridge and walked up along side the B3078 to the roundabout with the A31 which was about a mile. Then I cut back down one of the pathways of the Stour Valley Way over Eye meadow. The walk along the B3078 to the A31 was a long uninteresting walk with noisy traffic. In effect I ended up doing this walk the “wrong way” round. Consequently I’ll do my best to describe it here in “reverse” to what I did. Starting at the Wimborne end and ending at the A31 towards Corfe Mullen.
There is a gate just before Julians bridge that takes you alongside the river Stour and towards Eye Bridge along a new SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space). The creation and maintenance of this SANG was a requirement of the planning permission granted for the new build directly to it’s right. Unfortunately, I believe that due to an administrative failure by Dorset Council the actual river bank on the the side of this SANG was ceded back to the developer by accident/default. Which is a shame (to put it mildly). The SANG itself has been named Rivers Edge and provides a couple of walks of around a mile. It is quite popular with dog walkers.
First you come to a small parking area and slipway. I believe this once was Eye ford which is I understand now disused. Road access here is from Cowgrove Road. There is parking for 20 or so cars. I am unsure as to how much (if any) of the river is navigable at this point (TBD) but there is a weir immediately downstream from the slipway/ramp which bodes ill.
A little further on over a stile, you come to Eye Bridge. In Saxon times an “Eye” (or “Ieg”) was a small island. Back around 1000 years ago the river must have formed a small island in its centre at this point. Originally Eye Bridge was a Iron structure but over time it failed and was in part washed away. It was replaced by the existing wooden structure.
After crossing Eye bridge you have a couple of choices. You can follow the river to the right which appears to take you up the the A31 near the Petrol station. My walk was to go straight ahead (remember I did this the wrong way round!). There is a small bridge over a seasonal water course which feeds into the river Stour and then you finally come out near the roundabout where the A31 and the B3078 join. Next time I do this route I’ll start at the “right” end and follow the river round. Although the trek across the fields is fine, I’d rather walk nearer to the river.