The river and the beats
Wherwell Priory is an idyllic country estate positioned on a hundred-acre island in the middle of the river Test, the river here flows through a tranquil parkland setting. The distinctive white house is on the site of a Benedictine abbey, founded in 986 by Queen Elfrida, and three other Saxon queens also resided here.
The estate is located in the village of Wherwell, one of the most picturesque villages of Hampshire (click here for more information about the village of Wherwell).
The fishing is divided into two beats: The Park and The Priory. Most of the fishing is from the bank, with some short sections which can be waded. On the banks here you can see some wonderful wildlife including nesting kingfishers, herons, bank voles, little grebes, barn owls, kites and other birds of prey and even the occasional otter. You can also see rare orchids and arum.
Each beat has a comfortable fishing cabin with running water. The Priory fishing cabin has well equipped cooking facilities, and also a loo. The Park beat has its own allocated loo in another building on the estate.
Both beats have a barbeque – a very popular facility!
The river keeper, Terry Snellgrove, has a depth of experience, and is well-known as one of the best on the Test. It is largely thanks to his expertise that we have won the Top Estate prize in the annual River Test One Fly competition.
The on-going restoration bankwork using ‘hazel weave’ faggots has increased the flow, encouraging weed and creating some excellent holding pools. The fishery has a good population of wild brown trout as well as stocked fish.
Wherwell Priory is one of the host beats for the famous River Test One Fly competition which pits the wits of fly fishermen from around the globe against the cunning of the native brown trout. This annual event is a showcase for all that makes the English chalkstreams so very special and Wherwell is a flagship venue. One Fly winners are showered with accolades from across the angling world and Wherwell Priory lifted the Estate Trophy in 2009 and the Leading Angler Award in 2008 and 2011.
The Priory Beat
is the same length as the Park Beat but it is fished from a combination of left and right bank, and it has no overlooking houses – in fact there are some really secluded and wild stretches, the river is really beautiful here. There is also a wading section of this beat. Start from the downstream end with fast deep runs. At the other end of the stretch there is a long, straight section, excellent for sight casting. The final section is shaded from the opposite bank, perfect for fishing either from the bank, or for wading.
The Park Beat
is a very long beat with a lot of variety. At the bottom the river is not deep but wide and fast. Some village houses overlook the river here from the other bank, but they have no fishing rights.. There is a deep, turbulent hatch pool at The Mill, and the garden section beyond is only fished by wading. Our resident fishing guide, Mark Shickle, lives, very conveniently in this section! You proceed towards the fishing hut which is a quaint wooden structure with an awning right beside the river under the shade of a chestnut tree.