VisitEngland’s guide to the best Poohsticks bridges
Poohsticks, made famous by Winnie-the-Pooh, is a game that everyone loves and one that many of us have played on the iconic Poohsticks Bridge in Ashdown Forest. It combines spending sunny days in the great outdoors and hanging out with family and friends. So, to make the most of the last bank holiday of summer, we’ve teamed up with Egmont Publishing, the publisher of the classic Winnie-the-Pooh stories, to round-up 12 more bridges that are perfect for a game of Poohsticks.
Words: Rishika Sharma.
Sheepwash Bridge, Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire
Traditionally used by locals for washing their sheep, today the pen at Sheepwash Bridge is much better for catching a rogue Poohstick or two. Located in the chocolate box village of Ashford-in-the-Water, the sky scraper trees and multi-coloured Peak District National Park offer plenty of adventures for curious little minds. After all that playing, make sure you head downstream to Bakewell and refuel on the town’s eponymous puddings and tarts. Bridge: free entry.
Morden Hall Park, London
Swirly, white and hidden under weeping willows, Morden Hall Park’s bridge is fitting of a fairy-tale. Transporting you far from the red buses and crowds of London, this serene oasis, at the end of the Northern Line, is the city’s real-life secret garden. A game of Poohsticks here could go on all day as the park is home to whole host of fascinatingly distracting wildlife, including deer, kingfishers, dragonflies, damsels and voles. Bridge: free entry.
Heale Gardens, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Overlooking trout-filled streams, apple and pear trees and a quaint Japanese tearoom, the crayon-coloured Nippon bridge at Heale Gardens is picture-perfect for playing Poohsticks on, but that’s not all; in fact, the gardens make great ground for hide and seek as the site remains vastly unchanged since the 1600s, when King Charles II used this Wiltshire wonderland as his very own secret shelter. Have a snoop and see what other mysteries you can uncover there. Entry to Heale Gardens costs £6 per adult and £3 per child.
Packhorse Bridge, Watendlath, Cumbria
Surrounded by emerald hilltops and peridot landscapes, the beautiful Packhorse Bridge is located in the National Trust owned Hamlet of Watendlath. Originally used to transport work horses across Watendlath Beck, nowadays it’s put to much better use as a playground for Poohsticks. A day out should include a walk following the lapping waters down the valley as they cascade to create the beautiful Lodore Falls. Finish your trip with a picnic in Derwentwater, home to red squirrels, red deer and peregrine falcons. Bridge: free entry.
Mottisfont, Romsey, Hampshire
With not one but three bridges to try your luck on, it’s no wonder that playing Poohsticks at Mottisfont is one of the garden’s most popular activities. Continue your outdoor escapades by following one of the family trails across the luscious grounds, or venture indoors to discover the history of Mottisfont Abbey. The house also hosts various summer theatre productions and activity weekends. Entry to Mottisfont costs £12.60 per adult and £5.85 per child.
Little Wittenham Bridge, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Arching over the River Thames, Little Wittenham Bridge is a snow-white bridge located in the old market town of Abingdon. It’s the original home of the World Pooh Sticks Championships, making it a legendary spot for a game or two. This Cotswold gem provides a fun-filled base to some of the area’s charming attractions, including the Didcot Railway Museum and Pendon Museum’s model village. Bridge: free entry.
Mathematical Bridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Don’t worry, there’s no numeracy involved here, the name ‘Mathematical Bridge’ refers only to the tangent design of this wooden bridge. Hanging over the River Camb, make sure to watch out for punters below when throwing your sticks into the water! Connecting two parts of Queen’s College, once the competition is over, why not visit the city’s famous University, or sight-see on a river tour - just beware of the Poohsticks players above. Entry to Queen’s College and the Mathematical Bridge costs £3 per person.
New Lower Bridge, Boscastle, Cornwall
With Boscastle’s outstanding natural beauty as a backdrop, New Lower Bridge is located next door to Cornwall’s most quirky attraction, the Museum of Witchcraft (so there’s always magic to blame if you lose your game of Poohsticks). A visit here is incomplete without a stop off at the mystic Tintagel Castle, said to have belonged to King Arthur himself. Bridge: free entry.
Bridge over Bourne Eau, Bourne, Lincolnshire
The zig-zagged Bridge over Bourne Eau makes for an extremely pretty spot for Poohsticks. The crooked bridge and the ancient water springs of this Anglo-Saxon settlement make this site a joy to explore. North of the market town, visitors can escape to Capability Brown landscaped gardens and a medieval deer park at Grimsthorpe Castle. Bridge: free entry.
Cantlop Bridge, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
Protected under the wing of English Heritage, the cast iron Cantlop Bridge spreads over the gentle Cound Brook. Instrumental to the history of Shropshire, perhaps this bridge will prove good luck for your Poohstick too. Extend your day out with a visit to Shrewsbury. There’s the castle, now Shropshire’s Regimental Museum, Mount House, and the birthplace of Charles Darwin to see. Bridge: free entry.
Essex Bridge, Shugborough, Staffordshire
Said to be the longest remaining packhorse bridge in England, this bridge fits the brief for a full-on Poohsticks tournament. Don't be fooled by the name however, Essex Bridge is miles from Essex, and can instead be found in the Staffordshire village of Hayward, near to the historic Shrugborough Estate and stunning Cannock Chase forest. Bridge: free entry.
Find out more about the area...
Hutton-le-Hole, North York Moors National Park village
This quintessentially English village, with red pantile roof cottages and country roads where the sheep roam freely is home to the equally pretty Hutton-le-Hole wooden bridge. Based in the North York Moors National Park, Hutton-le-Hole makes a postcard-like, picturesque backdrop for a game of Poohsticks. Also close by is the Ryedale Folk Museum which takes visitors on a journey to uncover what local life was like in centuries past. Bridge: free entry.
If we’ve missed one of your favourites, be sure to tell us in the comments below, and always remember that falling into the water is SAD (Silly And Daft), so be careful and read the safety guidelines below.
Parents, please note the safety criteria for the bridges and playing Poohsticks:
- Bridges are pedestrianised
- Bridge side barriers are of a safe height, with no large gaps
- Structurally sound bridges
- Bridges over slow-flowing water
- Parents should not allow children to lean out over the sides of the bridge
- Children to be supervised at all times by an adult
- Young children to have their hand held by an adult
- Only sticks should be used as Poohsticks. Nothing else should be thrown into river
Find out more about Poohsticks, check out the new book ‘The Poohsticks Handbook: A Poohstickopedia’ (Egmont Publishing), available in stores now.