The word Nadder is said to be derived from two Celtic words nydd, to twist or wind, and dwr, meaning water - literally ’winding water’. The old Saxon word nadra, was used to describe the adder or viper, both of which are apt descriptions of the characteristics of our river.
The Nadder is the odd one out of the five rivers that meet in Salisbury. Although very close to the Wylye, this river cannot be considered a chalk stream although in parts it displays many of the characteristics.
It rises in Greensand very close to the Donheads near Shaftesbury and is quickly joined by the Sem at Wardour, west of Tisbury.
It then meanders down the valley with some large oxbow bends through pastoral sheep meadows and old country estates, including Wilton House, the home of the Earl of Pembroke. In the manicured gardens the river flows beneath the magnificent Palladian Bridge before being joined by the river Wylye just outside the park walls and eventually joining the Avon near the cathedral in Salisbury.
The celebrated fly fisherman G.E.M Skues spent some of his last days on the Nadder just on the outskirts of Wilton and writes of “The Iron Lattice Bridge” where he would examine the flies caught in the cobwebs between the lattices.