The River Dun, Hampshire
Depending on the amount of winter rainfall, the River Dun usually rises between the villages of East and West Grimstead in Wiltshire. At this point, the Dun is only 2.5km away from the River Avon of Frank Sawyer fame, but it flows almost due east for 13km to join the River Test at Kimbridge. I am aware of four day ticket beats on the Dun - working upstream from the Test they are at Mottisfont, Dunbridge, School Farm and The Blue Pool. I chose to fish the Dunbridge beat.
The hamlet of Dunbridge is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as land belonging to a Gilbert de Bretteville. A wonderful insight into the elaborate feudal structure of the age, the survey recorded two villagers, a plough, a meadow and woodland, and a two swine render. It placed a value on the land of 1 pound 5 shillings. Almost a millennium on, Dunbridge isn't much larger today, but it now has a train station and a pub.
The beat itself is just upstream from Dunbridge. To reach it I crossed the Test at the famous Kimbridge Estate, where I momentarily stopped my car on the single lane bridge and watched the venerated waters flow beneath me. I was in some of the finest trout real estate in the world.
Dunbridge is quite simply a slice of chalkstream heaven. From the designated car park, I walked about 100m through a meadow, and with each step on the freshly mown path I felt ever more captured by the tranquil clutch of the river and private setting. The hut is sited near the top of the beat, and what a well appointed and immaculately clean hut it was! You roll the dice with fishing huts, and my experience is that most are dusty old relics nearing firewood status. This one could be lived in at a squeeze. It even had the luxury of a cafetière to make a proper cup of coffee with!
It was the 1st of May and opening day on this beat, and the catch return book in the hut had been opened to a new page, pleasingly blank. I hoped it meant plenty of naïve trout in the water, in something of a state of carefree reverie.