Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
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Waterways of Cambridgeshire

Navigable Rivers and Canals within Cambridgeshire

Hire Boats at March on the Old River Nene.

Burwell Lode

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of the lode is in Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs from Burwell Village to the River Cam at Upware Junction.

History:

Were used by Fen Lighters.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Car Dyke

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

A Roman navigation from Cambridgeshire to Lincolnshire.

Waterway Description:

A channel connecting the Cam at Waterbeach, via Peterborough to the Fossdyke near Lincoln.

History:

Thought to be a Roman navigation and drainage channel, large parts can still be traced.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Counter Wash Drain (Great Ouse)

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of this waterway is within Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

A 3 mile navigation from the junction with the Old Bedford River and the Forty Foot River, at Welches Dam, to Mepal Pumping Station.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

London & Cambridge Junction Canal

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

A canal that was planned to run from Hertfordshire to Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

A proposal to link Bishop's Stortford on the River Stort to Cambridge on the River Cam thus providing a through route from London to King's Lynn. See also Stort - Cam Canal projects.

History:

Authorising Acts were passed in 1812 and 1814 but little or no work was done.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - Bevill's Leam

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of this waterway is within Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs 5 miles, from Angle Corner, the junction with Whittlesey Dyke and the Twenty-foot River, to Mere Mouth where it joins the Old River Nene and Black Ham Drain.

Points of Interest:

The navigation is now blocked by Bevill's Leam Pumping Station.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - Black Ham Drain

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of this waterway is within Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs 3.5 miles from Yaxley to Mere Mouth, where it joins the Old River Nene and Bevill's Leam.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - Forty Foot River

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of this waterway is within Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Vermuyden's Drain is another name for this waterway, which runs 10.5 miles, from Wells Bridge, where it joins the Old River Nene, to Welches Dam Sluice, where it joins the Old Bedford River and Counter Wash Drain.

Points of Interest:

The length between Horseway Lock and Welches Dam Lock is not normally navigable due to low water levels. Special arrangements must be made to navigate this section.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - King's Dyke

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of this waterway is within Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs four and a quarter miles, from the River Nene to the junction with Whittlesey Dyke.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - New Dyke

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of this waterway is within Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs three and a quarter miles from Holme Village to Nightingale Corner, where it joins the Old River Nene.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - Old River Nene

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

For 24 miles from the start of the navigation at Mere Mouth Junction, where it connects with with Bevill's Leam and Black Ham Drain, to Marmont Priory Sluice, where it crosses into Norfolk, the Old River Nene is in Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs 26 miles from Mere Mouth, where it joins Bevill's Leam and Black Ham Drain, to Outwell, the junction with Well Creek.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - Popham's Eau

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The first mile of the navigation from the Old River Nene junction is in Cambridgeshire. The waterway then crosses into Norfolk.

Waterway Description:

Runs 2.5 miles from the Middle Level Drain, although there is no connection at this point, to Popham's Eau End, where it joins the Old River Nene.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - Ramsey High Lode

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of this waterway is within Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs just over a mile from Ramsey to Saunder's Bridge, where it joins the Old River Nene.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - Sixteen Foot River

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

From its junction with Popham's Eau only the first mile of this waterway is in Norfolk, the remainder of its 9 miles length is in Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs 9.6 miles, from Three Holes Bridge, where it joins Popham's Eau, to Sixteen Foot Corner, where it joins the Forty Foot River.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - Twenty Foot River

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of this waterway is within Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs just over 10 miles, from Angle Corner, where it joins Bevill's Leam and Whittlesey Dyke, to Twenty Foot End, where it joins the Old River Nene.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level - Whittlesey Dyke

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of this waterway is within Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs 6 miles, from the junction with the King's Dyke at Whittlesey, to the junction with the Old River Nene.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Middle Level Navigation

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

A collection of waterways in Cambrigeshire and Norfolk.

Waterway Description:

A network of waterways, primarily used for land drainage, between the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse.

History:

Promoted by Acts of 1753, 1793, 1810, 1844, 1848, 1852, 1862 and 1874.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Old Bedford River

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The river is in Cambridgeshire for 5 miles from the start of the navigation at Welches Dam, where it connects with the Middle Level Forty Foot Drain, to a mile before Delph Bridge (the A1101 road bridge to Welney Village), where it enters Norfolk.

Waterway Description:

Navigable for 12 miles, from Welches Dam to Salters Lode Junction.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Old West River (Great Ouse)

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The river is in Cambridgeshire for over 24 miles from its starting point at Hermitage Sluice Lock No 1, where it joins the Great Ouse, to Brandon Creek, where it crosses into Norfolk.

Waterway Description:

This 31 miles of the old course of the Great Ouse from Earith to Denver Sluice has a number of names and is usually called Ten Mile River (from Denver to Littleport), the Ely Ouse (from Littleport to Pope's Corner) and the Old West River (from Popes Corner to Earith).

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Reach Lode

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of the lode is in Cambrigeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs from Reach Village to the junction with Burwell Lode.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Cam

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of the river is in Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs just over 14 miles, from Cambridge to the junction with the River Ouse at Popes Corner. There are also four navigable tributaries.

History:

Promoted by Acts of 1702 and 1813.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Great Ouse

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The river is within Cambrigeshire for 38 miles from A428 road bridge at Eaton Socon, where the river crosses out of Bedfordshire to a mile before Welney Suspension Bridge, where it crosses into Norfolk.

Waterway Description:

The navigation runs 74 miles from Bedford to the Wash.

History:

Promoted under Acts of 1670, 1751, 1795, 1796, 1805, 1810, 1816, 1818, 1819, 1827 and 1830. The locks from Brownshill to Eaton Scocon were rebuilt in the 1930s when this part of the river was restored by the newly formed Great Ouse Catchment Board. Prior to the 1950s the river below Denver was kept clear by the flow from the Great Ouse but since then the relief channel has been built to divert these waters and the bed of the river has risen by about a metre. In 1951 The Great Ouse Restoration Society formed and in 1963 legislation enabled the River Authority to licence boats and charge fees, at last providing money for navigation to a body mainly concerned with drainage. n 1978 The final lock at Castle Mills was completed and navigation to Bedford was restored.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Lark (Great Ouse)

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The river is the boundary between Suffolk and Cambidgeshire from the river's junction with Lee Brook until about a mile before Prickwillow, where it crosses wholly into Cambridgeshire to its end at its junction with the Great Ouse.

Waterway Description:

A tributary of the Great Ouse, originally navigable for 24.5 miles from Bury St Edmunds but now only navigable from Judes Ferry, 10 miles.

History:

Promoted by Acts of 1700 and 1817

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Nene

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

At Wansford, the river crosses into Cambrigeshire from Northamptonshire. For some way between Wisbech and Tydd Gate the river marks the bounary between Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. At Tydd Gate the river leaves both counties and enters Lincolnshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs 91 miles from Northampton, where it joins the Northampton Branch of the Grand Union Canal, to the Wash. The lower 26 miles (from Dog-in-a-Doublet Lock) are tidal.

History:

Promoted by Acts of 1713 (no work done), 1724, 1754, 1756, 1794, 1827 and 1829. Navigation from Thrapston to Peterborough promoted by the 1724 Act and navigation from Thrapston to Northampton promoted by the Act 1756. Navigation from Northampton to Peterborough was opened in 1761.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Nene Stanground Branch

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

A waterway entirely within Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs from the main course of the Nene to Stanground Lock and the start of King's Dyke

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Stort - Cam Canal projects

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

Proposals for a canal from Hertfordshire to Cambridgeshire.

Waterway Description:

Various schemes for linking the River Stort Navigation with the River Cam none of which were authorised or built.

History:

In 1779 the possibility of such a link was being considered by the City of London and Robert Whitworth produced a report in 1780. Other proposals were put forward in 1785 and 1788. Bills were introduced in 1789 and 1811 but not enacted. See also London & Cambridge Junction Canal.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Wicken Lode

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

The whole of the lode is in Cambrigeshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs from Wicken Fen to the junction with Burwell Lode.

Points of Interest:

Wicken Fen and museum are owned by the National Trust and preserved as an example of un drained fen. Wicken Lode is shallow and navigation beyond its junction with Monks Lode is restricted to local inhabitants.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Wisbech Canal

Waterway's place in Cambridgeshire :

A canal that was on the border of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

Waterway Description:

Was a 5.25 mile, 2 lock, broad canal from The River Nene at Wisbech to Outwell where it joined Well Creek.

History:

Authorised by an Act of 1794, opened in 1797, traffic ceased in 1922 and the canal was abandoned in 1926.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

External Web Sites Related to Cambridgeshire Waterways

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Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
Features Contact me Glossary Boats Events List History Local Waterways Help Photo List