Chalk Streams

Letcombe Brook is a chalk stream rising from springs in Letcombe Regis and Letcombe Bassett and flowing north until it joins the Childrey Brook and on into the River Ock. The upper stretch of the Brook flows through the North Wessex Downs AONB.

Chalk streams are extremely rare and precious habitats and are some of our most beautiful rivers. Their pure, clear, water fed from underground chalk aquifers and springs are rich in biodiversity and have been declared Priority Habitat by Natural England. The UK has 85% of the world’s 215 chalk streams, most of which are concentrated in the South East of England.

Letcombe Brook is a prominent and attractive feature running through both urban and rural landscapes and is much loved by local people. The Brook supports a diverse and specialised range of wildlife, some of which are endangered. The brook contains three County Wildlife Sites, along with protected species such as brown trout, bullhead, otter and water voles.

There are diverse habitats along the Letcombe Brook corridor including farmland, chalk-down land, cress beds, reedbeds, small copses, veteran willow trees, urban gardens and important areas of community green space.

Water from the aquifer feeding Letcombe Brook has been abstracted to supply drinking water locally for many years. Due to the damage caused by such abstraction, the brook has been augmented by water pumped across the West Berkshire Downs and into the headwaters of the brook. Thames Water is due to stop abstraction from the Childrey Warren borehole in early 2020. The augmentation will also stop and the brook will return to natural flow for the first time in many years.