River Pang and River Bourne

© Crown copyright and database rights 2017 Ordnance survey

The River Pang and the Sulham Brook lie in the north-eastern area of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) some of the finest landscape in Britain – chalk upland, river valleys ancient woodland and historic sites. These uplands of the Berkshire and Marlborough downs contain areas of fine woodland and remnants of herb-rich chalk grassland.

The Pang is a small chalk stream river in West Berkshire and a tributary of the River Thames. It runs for approximately 36.6 kilometres (22.7 miles) from its source near the village of Compton to its confluence with the Thames at Pangbourne. Though the source is normally near Compton, the exact location varies depending on rainfall and the level of the underlying water table that feeds it. In times of exceptionally high groundwater levels it can be traced back to Farnborough some four miles to the north-west, whilst at other times it may be as far downstream as Hampstead Norreys under low groundwater levels. A similar, but smaller chalk stream trbutary, the River Roden, joins the Pang at Compton which then flows south through Hampstead Norreys and Frilsham before turning east to flow through Bucklebury, Stanford Dingley and Bradfield. It is joined by a number of small tributaries between Bucklebury and Tidmarsh, the largest of which is the River Bourne that flows into the Pang just east of Bradfield. The Pang then turns north flowing through Tidmarsh to Pangbourne where it flows into the Thames. There are records of a watermill at Compton and the mills at Yatterdon, Stanford Dingley and Bradfield are recorded in the Doomsday Book though, in the case of the latter, the current building is Victorian. There is a mill at Tidmarsh, mentioned in 1239, which still contains a working wheel and a mill house at Pangbourne. The mill itself at Pangbourne was demolished in 1929 when the Thames Water Pumping Station was built. Mill houses are where the miller lived. Mills held the grinding equipment.

In previous years the Pang was adversely affected by groundwater abstractions for public water supply which led to an agreement with Thames Water Utilities Ltd. to limit their abstractions. These low flows of past years have meant that the upper reaches of the Pang were unable to support a significant fish population. Since the mid 1990's there has not been any significant amount of groundwater abstraction in the upper reaches of the Pang. Drought, instream barriers to upstream migration and poor water quality are now the primary factors that determine healthy fish populations. Downstream of Stanford Dingley a good trout population can be found, together with some Grayling. Recreation activities on the Pang are informal and largely restricted to walking and angling. Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) have a nature reserve at Moor Copse on the A340 just south of Tidmarsh and there are five SSSI’s in the catchment.

The Berkshire Downs Groundwater Nitrate Vulnerable Zone covers most of the catchment.

The Pang is classified by the Environment Agency as a river and designated Hydromorphologically as not being an artificial or a heavily modified water body. The total catchment area is 170.5 km2 (65.8 miles2).

Environment Agency Classification for the Pang and River Bourne system

  2009 Cycle 1 2016 Cycle 2 Objectives
Water body status overall Poor Good Good by 2015*
Ecological Status Poor Good Good by 2015*
Chemical Status Does not require assessment Good Good by 2015*

*As reported in Environment Agency's WFD Classification Status Cycle 2 v3 data set published 18th May 2017.

As can be seen from the table above in 2016 the Environment Agency classified the Pang and River Bourne system as having both Good Ecological Status and Good Chemical Status. The Ecological Status of only Good was based on its fish element due to the problems discussed above together with the barriers to fish migration along the river from a number of existing old mill weirs. The Physicochemical quality component is also only classified as Good due to the Phosphate element. Both the Ecological and Chemical status of the Pang and River Bourne system are predicted to remain at Good.

You can find out more about the classification of rivers in our catchment by using the Environment Agency’s Catchment Data Explorer

View Projects
Floods 2014
Drought 2017
Berrick Stream
Cholsey Brook
Ewelme Stream
Hamble Brook
Mill Brook
Sonning Eye
Upper Middle Thames
Lower Middle Thames
Upper Wye
Lower Wye
Whole Catchment