Looking after the River Test at Mottisfont

A stretch of the River Test at the Oakley Beat, on the estate at Mottisfont, Hampshire

The River Test, which flows through Mottisfont, has shaped the estate through the centuries, binding the history of the house and its people to the landscape.

The River Test is a fantastic example of a chalk stream. The water enters the river through chalk springs, giving us beautifully pure, clean water, that maintains relatively stable temperatures and flow rates.

Managing habitats

To tend the river that surrounds our property we have a specialist River Keeper, the only role of its kind within the National Trust.

Our river keeper can be found in the water during weed cut season
River Keeper at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Follow our River Keeper on Twitter to get a peek behind the scenes of river management.

Providing that they are well managed, chalk streams provide wonderful habitats for a huge variety of species. Lush marginal fringes provide habitat for all manner of terrestrial insects and are vital in the reproductive cycle of river flies, which in turn provide food for the fish.

Abundant weed growth in the river itself gives young fish a safe place to hide and overhanging trees and bushes provide cover for larger fish.

The results of the work are clear to see both on the banks and in the river; otters, water voles, kingfishers, grebes and the rare southern damselfly all thrive here.

Numbers of juvenile salmon have increased dramatically, alongside a stable population of wild brown trout and at least 11 other freshwater fish species from tiny minnows and bullheads to huge pike.