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No. 19 Play Pooh sticks

Children playing Pooh sticks on a bridge over the River Test at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Children playing Pooh sticks on a bridge over the River Test at Mottisfont | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

Pooh sticks is a simple but thrilling sport, first invented by the famous bear of the same name in the stories by A. A. Milne. It also happens to be no. 19 of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities.

What you need

You will need two or more players, each armed with a stick of their choosing. You also need a bridge over moving water.

What to do

  • Stand on the bridge over moving water.
  • Make sure you've already checked which way the water is flowing so that you throw your sticks in on the right side, so that they'll get carried underneath the bridge with the current.
  • On the count of three everyone must throw their Pooh stick into the water below.
  • The stick that floats underneath the bridge fastest wins.
Visitors on the wooden footbridge at Low Wray Campsite, Cumbria
Visitors on the footbridge at Low Wray Campsite | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

What can you spy?

As you cheer your Pooh stick on its way to victory, take some time to watch what’s going on below. What happens as your Pooh stick lands? Does it bob under the water? How does the water flow around your Pooh stick? Can you see anything else under the water as you stare down? Maybe you’ll even see your reflection. You could imagine a topsy-turvy world under the bridge where everyone does everything backwards, and even act it out with your friends.

Top secret tip

Try to choose a place on the bridge above the fastest-flowing water. This way you’ll have an advantage over the other players.

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