Observing the River Test, from Source to Sea

Observe: Watch, See, Record

Our chalk streams are one of the United Kingdom’s under appreciated treasures. This project is to observe and capture a year on the river Test in Hampshire.

Rivers are in the news constantly with reference to pollution and abstraction; a terrible sign of the times. It is easy to forget the beauty and richness of the chalk streams in England; they support a diverse and unique ecosystem and hold an abundant history.

Over 85% of the world’s chalk streams are found in England. They are unique to England, France and Denmark. They are as internationally rare and ecologically as important as coral reefs or rainforests.


What is Observing the River Test from Source to Sea all about?

The south of England is home to a significant percentage of the world’s chalk streams. This project is to encourage everyone to take note of one river, the river Test, one of the best known of the chalk streams in Hampshire, and southern England.

There are various organisations and charities that monitor the water quantity and quality, wild flowers, trees, the insect life and other animals. This project is a more holistic approach – what do you notice when you are by the river? This can be recorded in words, images, photographs, film, drawings, paintings, music or something else that observation of the river Test inspires you to record.

The more you look, the more you will see. This is an opportunity for citizen observation.

How should you go about this observation?

There are very few rules but it is important that they be followed.

  • Do not trespass on private land
  • Do not break the law
  • Do not leave any trace of your visit, leave it as you found it, no litter, close gates etc.
  • Be safe
  • Carefully record date, time and place

Beyond the above you can approach the project in any way you wish. You can start at the source of the river and finish at the sea, or you can go to one place only. No particular order is necessary. The rules are the ones you impose on yourself, for example one self-imposed rule could be going to the river in places where there is public access, no private access – up to you.

We would love to hear about what you are up to, whether you are working alone, or with a group, if there is a special reason you want to embark on this project, and possibly a bit about yourself.

There is no limit to how many times you visit the Test, once, twice, or multiple times.

The time frame is from 1st June 2023 to 1st September 2024. This window is slightly more than a year, however, try to restrict yourself to a year.

The aim is to gather the information from all who take part and put on an exhibition late 2024

Useful/ interesting links

What Next?

If you would like to register your interest in the project that would be very helpful for me. I will send out any information that is necessary. I am open to suggestions about ways to organise the year.

My river visits will be numerous to paint, draw and whatever. Mostly I will be alone but occasionally I will drag someone along with me.

I suspect a Facebook/Instagram page might be the easiest way to share but any other suggestions would be gratefully received. I think it would be very interesting to know date, time, and place of peoples’ visits, even if they just sit and stare.


Register an interest in Observing the River Test from Source to Sea


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