Whatever your age, rivers are places where so many happy memories are made.

In the Westcountry – where we are never more than 2 miles from a river – we all have so many tales of time enjoyed by the river. River walks, picnics, paddling, camping trips, river games…

With their flowing water, fascinating wildlife and unique environments, rivers are brilliant settings for games to be played.

In the WRT office, we’ve been discussing some of our favourites…

Elly Greenway

Elly Greenway

Evidence & Engagement

Pooh sticks – the most famous river game of them all

From the moment ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ came into print in 1928, children and adults across the country have been feeling the pull of a game of Pooh sticks each and every time they find themselves crossing a bridge over a river.

In the footsteps of Winnie the Pooh himself, competitors have long been perfecting their stick selection

(Long or short…? Fat or thin…? Rough or smooth…? Beech or oak…?), honing their dropping technique and tirelessly challenging their companions to this legendary game.

The rules are simple: each competitor picks their stick, drops it in the river at an agreed height and time and rushes across the bridge (provided no traffic present) to see whose stick emerges triumphant at the other side.

So popular is this river game, a World Pooh Sticks Championships is held each year in Oxfordshire.

Skimming stones

Few things can be as satisfying as watching a pebble leave your fingertips to dart along the surface of the river. Of course, there is an art to the perfect skim and it all starts with finding the right stone: we say round and flat is best.

Once you’ve made your selection, the secret is to hold the stone between your thumb and index finger, tucking your other fingers in to support the stone below.

With your stone in position, the final step is to flick your wrist back and launch it spinning towards the water surface (it often helps if you get as low as possible to do this).

It does take a little practise but you’ll get there in the end… 88 skims is the record to beat!

What’s under the rock?

For the curious and the intrepid, rivers are a fantastic place to begin your explorations. Beneath the pebbles that line the river bed, countless macroinvertebrates are waiting to be discovered. From the creepy to the crawly, the squirmy to the squishy; there are so many different macroinvertebrates that can be found hidden beneath the surface.

Our favourites are caddisflies, which hide away in distinctive cases created from materials found on the bed, and the monstrous looking dragonfly nymphs.

So, with a magnifying glass in hand, journey down to your local river and see what you can uncover.

What’s your favourite river game…? Let us know…