The source of the River Stour is a collection of pools at the historic estate of Stourhead in Wiltshire, just north of the Dorset/Wiltshire border.
From Stourhead the Dorset Stour heads in a southerly direction towards the villages of Zeals and Bourton. At Bourton the river starts to head south southeast, passing the village of Silton, flowing down the western flank of Milton-on-Stour, and then continuing on into the town of Gillingham.
The Dorset Stour leaves Gillingham from the south, initially heading southwest past the villages of Eccliffe and Bugley before winding its way south between the villages of West Stour and East Stour, then on past the villages of Stour Provost and Fifehead Magdalen.
The River Stour then meanders its way near Henstridge Airfield and the village of Henstridge Marsh which sit in the neighbouring county of Somerset. The river then heads south past the large sprawling village of Marnhull, just downstream the River Lydden joins the flow and the Dorset Stour continues on past the village of Hinton St Mary.
The next settlement on the River Stour is the village of Sturminster Newton, the river flows down its western flank as far as the village of Newton which lies just south, it then heads northeast, this time running along the southeastern edge of Sturminster Newton.
As the river leaves Sturminster Newton it starts to head southeast for about half a mile before heading northeast, its course takes it between the villages of Manston and Hammoon after which the Dorset Stour starts to wind its way in a southerly direction once again.
The next settlement on the banks of the Dorset Stour is the village of Child Okeford, after which the river flows past the villages of Shillingstone, Stourpaine and Durweston.
The town of Blandford Forum is next to be graced by the River Stour. The town offers everything an angler needs for a weekend fishing break, including fishing tackle, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, pubs, restaurants and some great cafeterias.
After leaving Blandford Forum the River Stour heads southeast, passing the villages of Lower Blandford St Mary, Langton Long Blandford and Charlton Marshall. Just downstream of Charlton Marshall the river splits into two channels, one of the channels passes the village of Tarrant Crawford on the eastern bank, about half a mile downstream the river comes back together at the village of Spetisbury.
From Spetisbury the river heads in an easterly direction to the village of Shapwick, from there it winds its way southeast to the northern edge of the village of Sturminster Marshall, the river then heads northeast briefly before taking a south southeasterly course for about a mile and a half, it then heads northeast on to the town of Wimborne Minster.
At Wimborne Minster the river heads southeast running down the western flank of the town, then with the village of Oakley sitting on the southern bank, the river heads in an easterly direction absorbing another tributary, the River Allen. The river then loops around the Oakley Country Club's golf course and winds its way further east. Next on the northern bank is the town of Ferndown, the river then heads southeast with the outskirts of Bournemouth sitting on the southwestern bank and the village of West Parley on the eastern bank.
Downstream of West Parley the river heads northeast for about a mile before heading southeast once again. The next settlement on the southern bank is Holdenhurst Village, after which the river meanders its way south for a while before heading in a more southeasterly direction with the town of Bournemouth on the western bank and the town of Christchurch sitting on the eastern bank. The river then meets up with the River Avon
and ends its journey by flowing into the English Channel.