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The River Stour is a 60.5 mile (97 km) long river which flows through Wiltshiremarker and Dorsetmarker in southern Englandmarker, and drains into the English Channelmarker. It is sometimes called the Dorset Stour to distinguish it from rivers of the same name. The source of the river is at Stourheadmarker, in Wiltshire, where it forms a series of artificial lakes which are part of the Stourhead estate owned by the National Trust. It flows south into Dorset through the Blackmore Vale and the towns of Gillinghammarker and Sturminster Newtonmarker, where it is joined by the River Lydden. At Blandford Forummarker the river breaks through the chalk ridge of the Dorset Downsmarker, and from there flows south east into the heathlands of south east Dorset. At Wimborne Minstermarker it is joined by the River Allen, and at its estuary at Christchurchmarker it is joined by the River Avonmarker before it flows into the English Channel.

For many miles the river is followed by the route of the now disused Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway, which bridged the river five times.

Because much of the river's course is across clay soil, the river's waterlevel varies greatly. In summer, low water level makes the river a diverse and important habitat, supporting many rare plants. In winter, the river often floods, and is therefore bordered by wide and fertile flood plains.

A number of towns and villages in Dorset are named after the river, including Eastmarker and West Stourmarker, Stourpainemarker, Stourton Caundlemarker, Stour Rowmarker, Stour Provostmarker, Sturminster Newtonmarker, and Sturminster Marshallmarker. Sturminster Newton is famous for its water mill and town bridge, which still bears the notice warning potential vandals that damaging the bridge is punishable by penal transportation.

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