River Wylye

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The Wylye at Norton Bavant

The River Wylye (ˈwaɪli) is a little river of Wiltshire; a chalk stream of champagne-clear water flowing over gravel. Consequently, it is popular with anglers keen on fly fishing.[1]

This river is 28 miles long, rising in the White Sheet Downs and ultimately entering the River Nadder at Wilton. It appears to be the river after which Wiltshire is named, for Wilton is named after it and Wiltshire is in turn be named after Wilton. An even earlier name for Wiltshire is a tribal name, Wilsæte[2]', meaning "Wylye settlers".

A half-mile stretch of the river and three lakes in Warminster are a Local Nature Reserve.[3][4]


It rises below the White Sheet Downs just south of Maiden Bradley in Wiltshire, and after flowing through the Deverill valley, forms the southern edge of Warminster. It then heads generally east south east, forming the Wylye Valley, into which the A36 road and the Wessex Main Line are also squeezed. The river passes through the parishes of Norton Bavant, Heytesbury, Knook, Upton Lovell, Boyton, Codford, Wylye and Wilton, near the southern edge of Salisbury Plain, and is fed by ephemeral, winterbourne streams so water flow can vary.[5]

The river forms part of the River Avon catchment. At Wilton it joins the River Nadder and eventually drains to the sea at Christchurch in Hampshire as part of the River Avon.

Wylye Valley

The Wylye valley is a picturesque valley dotted with small chocolate box villages composed of thatched cottages and stone-built pubs.


  • A vineyard is located near the river's source.[6]
  • Both Wilton and Wiltshire (Wilton - shire) are named after the river. There is also a village of Wylye.
  • The Wylye is one of the five rivers referred to throughout the Edward Rutherfurd epic novel Sarum (1987)


The villages located on the River Wylye from the source to its meeting with the River Nadder are:

*Kingston Deverill


  1. "Fishing Breaks". http://www.fishingbreaks.co.uk/chalkstream/wylye.htm. Retrieved 20 November 2007. 
  2. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle  Parker Chronicle (800 rect 802) Ecgbryht feng to Wesseaxna rice; 7 þy ilcan dæge rad æþelmund aldorman of Hwiccium ofer æt Cynemæresforda, þa mette hine Weoxstan aldorman mid Wilsætum; þær wearþ micel gefeoht, 7 þær begen ofslægene þa aldormen, 7 Wilsætan namon sige ("Egbert came to the throne and the same day Æthelmund governor of the Hwicce rode ofer at Kempsford and there governor Weoxstan met him with the Wilsæte. There was a great fight and the governors were slain and the Wilsæte had the victory.")
  3. "River Wylye". Natural England. http://www.lnr.naturalengland.org.uk/Special/lnr/lnr_details.asp?C=0&N=wylye&ID=1480. 
  4. "Map of River Wylye". Natural England. http://magic.defra.gov.uk/MagicMap.aspx?startTopic=Designations&activelayer=lnrIndex&query=REF_CODE%3D%271009632%27. 
  5. "IUCN" (PDF). Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071214171106/http://www.iucn.org/themes/wani/flow/cases/UK.pdf. Retrieved 20 November 2007. 
  6. "W Wilts Tourism". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070928162738/http://www.westwiltshire.gov.uk/index/tourism_and_travel/places-to-visit/other-places-interest/wylye-valley-vineyard.htm. Retrieved 20 November 2007.