The River Kennet has long been regarded as one of England's most important chalk streams. Around 45 miles long, rising near Silbury Hill, it is the largest tributary of the Thames and in summer months contributes up to half of its flow. It runs through the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The River Kennet has been famous for trout fishing since the late nineteenth century and the abundance of trout is directly linked to the quality and quantity of water in the river. A healthy chalk stream has clear, fast flowing water, with healthy ranunculus growth; the Kennet has all this and plentiful hatches of appropriate flies for the fish to eat.
Fishing on the River Kennet is organised by a number of fishing syndicates. These groups contribute towards the cost of employing river keepers who manage the river, keep the banks passable and allow light to reach the river bed.
The winterbournes that feed the top of the river include: the main winter stream originating at Uffcott and running through Winterbourne Monkton; the smaller stream flowing at times from Highway Pennings via Yatesbury to join the larger one just west of Avebury; and the tiny stream starting at Beckhampton pond which runs (albeit rarely) along the A4 into the excavation moat around Silbury Hill.
The River Lambourn rises near the village of Lambourn in the chalk of the the Berkshire Downs. It is approximately 14.5 miles long and flows through the Kennet Valley in a south-easterly direction to Newbury where it joins the River Kennet.
The Lambourn has one important tributary, the Winterbourne Stream, which flows into the Lambourn from the north-east, just upstream of Newbury. The underlying bedrock is chalk, with overlying river gravels.
The catchment is mostly rural, with mixed farming as the main industry, and there are extensive decidous woodlands on the catchment boundary. The river corridor is notable for reed beds and willow stands and the river supports one of the best and most productive fisheries for brown trout in the area, with natural populations of grayling also present.
Chalk streams in Berkshire
River Kennet at Reading, Berkshire
The River Pang, is a tributary of the Thames and one of the safest and cleanest rivers in the region. The River Pang is located in west Berkshire and starts near the village of Compton. It flows south through the village of Hampstead Norreys, and then turns east to flow through the villages of Stanford Dingley, Bradfield, and Bucklebury.
The River Pang is joined by the River Bourne to the east of Bradfield and turns north to flow through Tidmarsh and Pangbourne villages. It eventually enters the Thames between Whitchurch Lock and Whitchurch Bridge.
The River Loddon rises at West Ham Farm, Basingstoke where it is fed by springs and flows in a north-easterly direction to its confluence with the River Thames just west of Wargrave. The Loddon itself is approximately 25 miles long.