Creative Brand Communications


August 26, 2015

Poohsticks – a game of luck or strategy?.

Formula for the perfect Poohstick is revealed by leading scientist to celebrate new Winnie-the-Pooh Poohstickopedia book

  • Dr Rhys Morgan reveals the formula for the perfect Poohstick, disproving the 57% of Brits that believe it’s a game of luck
  • Top 12 Poohsticks-perfect bridges as recommended by VisitEngland, ahead of the August bank holiday
  • To celebrate the release of “The Poohsticks Handbook: A Poohstickopedia” featuring charming new Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations


More than half of Brits (57%) who believe Poohsticks is a game of luck have been proven wrong by a leading scientist as a brand new study puts the quintessential family game under the microscope and reveals it is in fact a game of skill and strategy!

The research, commissioned to celebrate the release of ‘The Poohsticks Handbook: A Poohstickopedia’ (Egmont Publishing), a humorous new book featuring Winnie-the-Pooh and friends written by comedy writer Mark Evans and illustrated by Mark Burgess, reveals the secrets to finding the ‘perfect Poohstick’ according to a leading scientist and names the best places in the country to play the traditional family game.

Egmont Publishing has joined forces with Dr Rhys Morgan (Royal Academy of Engineering) to equip the 39% of us who already take serious time sourcing the perfect Poohstick with the necessary formula to ensure we pick the speediest stick and float us to victory. This comes after a survey of 2,000 British parents also reveal that 41% of players even take the time to personalise their sticks to ensure they know exactly who wins.

Poohsticks first featured in The House at Pooh Corner, published in 1928, and has remained one of the nation’s favourite traditional games alongside Hide and Seek (52%) and It (33%). Poohsticks, which 25% vote as their favourite traditional game, is also revealed to be how 48% of British parents hope to ‘bridge’ the generational gap this summer by heading down to the river to play with their children. To celebrate this, VisitEngland has come up with the top 12 bridges for playing Poohsticks on across the UK.  And as the majority (87%) of parents reveal they’re keen to encourage their children to play outdoors, the list comes just in time for a fun-filled family August Bank Holiday this weekend.


The Perfect Poohstick:

Dr Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering as well as a dad of two and avid Poohsticks player himself, has used his expertise to create a formula for the perfect Poohstick.  According to Dr Morgan, the main variables that need to be considered when designing the perfect Poohstick include: cross sectional area, density/buoyancy, and the ‘drag coefficient’.

PP (Perfect Poohstick) = A x ρ x Cd


The perfect Poohstick = tubby and long, fairly heavy (but not so heavy it will sink to the bottom of the river), with quite a lot of bark to catch the flow of the river like paddles

However, it turns out that only 11% of Brits naturally pick the right sort of stick, with a third of us (30%) heading straight for a long and thin stick, which according to Dr Morgan is only half right.

Parameters for the ‘control’ river

Dr Morgan outlined the parameters for a ‘control’ or ‘perfect’ river. This is rectangular, like a very long bath, and the flow of water is smooth, so the Poohstick would not have to contend with turbulence or whirlpools.

Cross Sectional Area (= A)

(length x width) The greater the area of an object, the more drag it creates. Normally, a large cross-sectional area decreases speed, however when it comes to Poohsticks, drag is key. If more water is able to influence the trajectory of the stick, it will accelerate more quickly. So when it comes to Poohsticks – the tubbier, the better!

Density (= ρ)

The density of the stick affects its position in the water. The fastest part of the stream is below the surface, so theoretically, a waterlogged stick which sinks a bit into in the middle of the stream will go faster than a stick which is floating right on the surface (where it could be slowed down by wind or other external variables).

Drag Coefficient (= Cd)

The drag coefficient describes the shape of stick and roughness of its surface. Generally, a rough stick will create more drag than a smooth stick, so in general, bark is good. However according to Dr Morgan, a certain roughness can make the stick ‘apparently’ smoother, similar to the effect created by dimples in golf balls, so choose carefully.

The Perfect Bridge:

The next step is to find the perfect bridge to put it to the test – VisitEngland has compiled a list of the best Poohsticks bridges across the country, alongside the original Poohsticks Bridge in Ashdown Forest (East Sussex).

Top 12 Poohsticks-Perfect Bridges, as recommended by VisitEngland

  1. Sheepwash Bridge, Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire
  2. Morden Hall Park, London
  3. Heale Gardens, Salisbury, Wiltshire
  4. Packhorse Bridge, Watendlath, Cumbria
  5. Mottisfont, Romsey, Hampshire
  6. Little Wittenham Bridge, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  7. Mathematical Bridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
  8. New Lower Bridge, Boscastle, Cornwall
  9. Bridge over Bourne Eau, Bourne, Lincolnshire
  10. Cantlop Bridge, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
  11. Essex Bridge, Shugborough, Staffordshire
  12. Hutton-le-Hole, Ryedale, North York Moors National Park

The list includes bridges from all over the country, from Cumbria to Cornwall, which have been rated against a strict set of Poohsticks criteria*.

Rebecca Lowe, Head of PR at VisitEngland says: “Poohsticks is a timeless game. From its first mention in A.A. Milne’s 1928 classic, The House at Pooh Corner, to today, it remains a great way for families to spend time together and enjoy England’s great outdoors just like Pooh! Our recommendations of top Poohsticks bridges are just some of the great spots to enjoy the game across the country, and will hopefully encourage families to get out and engage in some friendly competition over the Bank Holiday weekend.”

Mark Evans, author of The Poohsticks Handbook, says: “As The Poohstickopedia summarises: ‘Poohsticks is a game of sticks and rivers and bridges and friends and fun’. But clearly you need more than that to fill a book so it’s also full of hints, tips and general Poohsticky advice (from warnings for Knights to the latest scientific advances in stick selection) as well as the history of the game and, most importantly, the rules – so that young players everywhere can make sure their elders and (supposedly) betters remain Poohsticks-legal and un-cheaty.”

There’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition when it comes to family fun, with 42% of us only entering into a game with the express intention of winning and 43% of parents saying that they would never feign losing – it’s up to the river who wins!

Why not enjoy the fun created by Winnie-the-Pooh and friends in a game of Poohsticks this Bank Holiday weekend?  We would love to see your photos of your favourite Poohsticks bridge or your own personalised Poohsticks – share them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #Poohsticks!

‘The Poohsticks Handbook: A Poohstickopedia’ (Egmont Publishing) is available to buy from all good book retailers – a perfect gift for Winnie-the-Pooh fans of all ages.

For more information on the country’s top Poohsticks bridges, visit



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