About the River Nene

Longboat on the river
The River Nene is an important regional navigation, rising at sources near Bradby, Naseby and Yelvertoft, and becomes navigable at Northampton where these tributaries combine.

Navigation starts at the junction with the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal near Cotton End Lock and extends 147km (91 miles) to the sea. The first experience visiting boaters will have navigating the River Nene is likely to be at Northampton, after passage through the canal systems 17 locks.

Originally a commercial navigation it is now used almost entirely for recreation. Flowing through the Nene Valley, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and bordering Norfolk, the Nene gives contrasting views of eastern England. In Northamptonshire the river meanders through farmland and the industry of Northampton, Wellingborough and Irthlingborough.

Further downstream there are numerous traditional stone villages and quiet country churches to enjoy.

Peterborough dominates the route through Cambridgeshire with the city’s cathedral visible on the horizon across great stretches of fenland.

The Nene was tidal to Peterborough until the construction of a tidal lock and sluice at the Dog in a Doublet in 1937. The tidal Nene flows through parts of Lincolnshire to the once bustling port of Wisbech, with its Dutch style waterfront architecture, and on to the port at Sutton Bridge.

The final leg enters the Wash between two towers known as the “the light-houses”.

Photograph by Neil Cartwright


The picturesque valley of the River Neneis shared by important and historic towns, unspoilt villages and a wealth of wildlife. Learn more about the history of the river here.

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