The Blackbridge Brook flows north into the Solent through Wootton Mill Pond and the intertidal estuary of Wootton Creek. The upper reaches of the Brook consist of a number of small tributary streams that arise from the foot of the chalk downs and from small sand and gravel aquifers perched on the underlying Tertiary clays that dominate the catchment.
A series of farms mark the location of the chalk springs at the head of catchment, the largest of these being at Combley Farm that feeds into Deadman’s Brook and Duxmore Farm that forms the Chillingwood Brook. At the foot of the chalk downs the Blackbridge Brook and its tributaries develop the character that dominates much of its catchment as the Brook flows through a landscape of wet meadows and extensive areas of ancient woodland. The complex of hedged fields, meadows and woodlands creates a landscape of high wildlife value. The Brook is essentially a woodland stream throughout most of its catchment. Even where it flows through the meadows it is lined with old hedgerows or belts of woodland so that there are few sections of the Brook that flow in the open.
The three main tributaries meet near Havenstreet before flowing through Greatwood Copse at the head of Wootton Mill Pond. Here the Brook flows through an almost natural landscape with a flood plain that shows a complete transition from wet freshwater meadows, through brackish marshes to saltmarsh. These a flanked by valley sides clothed with further areas of ancient woodland forming low valley side bluffs and river cliffs.
Wootton Mill Pond is marked at its northern end by Wootton Bridge and its tidal sluices. These are operated to regulate the flow of saltwater upstream into the Mill Pond at high tide and form a major constriction to the flow of freshwater into the fully estuarine environment of Wootton Creek.
The outer reaches of Wootton Creek are lined with relict patches of saltmarsh and small shingle spits although these are heavily disturbed and fragmented by small scale marine industrial activity, urban developments and the ferry port at Fishbourne. The banks of the Creek support further fragments of suburbanised ancient semi-natural woodland.
The technical bits
The Blackbridge Brook is currently classed as ‘Moderate’ quality within the Water Framework Directive. This means it is failing, and the aim is to improve. The objective set is ‘Good’ by 2021, which is optimistic. It is a heavily modified waterbody (HMWB) because of the sluice. Click for a fuller discussion.
Wootton Creek is classed as ‘Moderate’ quality and it is unlikely to improve before 2017. Click for further details.
In 2014 we mapped all the issues we were aware of with regards to the rivers in Ryde. This map can be viewed here . Please let us know if you know of other issues.
More recently we’ve carried out a photographic survey of the brook which you can see below (the map also shows other watercourses we’ve surveyed)
For information about this and other East Wight Rivers East Wight Watercourses Report December 2012
For information about the landscape and character Blackbridge Brook Final Report
For information about the ecology, and possible restoration projects Blackbridge Brook and Monkton Mead River Restoration Scoping Report