The River Great Ouse (/ˈuːz/) is a river in the United Kingdom, the longest of several British rivers called "Ouse". From Syresham in central England, the Great Ouse flows into East Anglia before entering the Wash, a bay of the North Sea. With a course of 143 miles (230 km), mostly flowing north and east, it is the one of the longest rivers in the United Kingdom. The Great Ouse has been historically important for commercial navigation, and for draining the low-lying region through which it flows; its best-known tributary is the Cam, which runs through Cambridge. Its lower course passes through drained wetlands and fens and has been extensively modified, or channelised, to relieve flooding and provide a better route for barge traffic. Though the unmodified river probably changed course regularly after floods, it now enters the Wash after passing through the port of King's Lynn, south of its earliest-recorded route to the sea.
|River Great Ouse|
Great Ouse catchment
|Counties||Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk|
|⁃ location||Syresham, South Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire, England|
|⁃ elevation||150 m (490 ft)|
|King's Lynn, United Kingdom|
|0 m (0 ft)|
|Length||230 km (140 mi)|
|Basin size||8,380 km2 (3,240 sq mi)|
|⁃ location||Denver Sluice  Catchment area 3430 km2|
|⁃ average||15.8 m3/s (560 cu ft/s)Catchment area 3430 km2|
The name Ouse is from the Celtic or pre-Celtic *Udso-s, and probably means simply "water" or slow flowing river. Thus the name is a pleonasm. The lower reaches of the Great Ouse are also known as "Old West River" and "the Ely Ouse", but all the river is often referred to simply as the Ouse in informal usage (the word "Great", which originally meant simply big, or in the case of a river long, is used to distinguish this river from several others called the Ouse).
The river has several sources close to the village of Syresham in Northamptonshire. It flows through Brackley, briefly through Oxfordshire and into Buckinghamshire, through Buckingham, Milton Keynes at Stony Stratford, Newport Pagnell, Olney and Kempston in Bedfordshire, which is the current head of navigation.
Passing through Bedford, into Cambridgeshire through St Neots, Godmanchester, Huntingdon, Hemingford Grey and St Ives, it reaches Earith. Here, the river enters a short tidal section before branching in two. The artificial, very straight Old Bedford River and New Bedford River, which remain tidal, provide a direct link north-east towards the lower river at Denver in Norfolk.
The old course of the river passes through Hermitage Lock into the Old West River. After joining the Cam near Little Thetford, north of Cambridge, the course passes the cathedral city of Ely and Littleport, to reach the Denver sluice. Below Denver the river is tidal and passes Downham Market to enter The Wash at King's Lynn.
The river is navigable from the Wash to Kempston Mill, just beyond Bedford, a distance of 72 miles (116 km). This section includes 17 locks which are maintained by the Environment Agency, which is the navigation authority and who attempt to attract more boaters to the river. It has a catchment area of 3,240 square miles (8,380 km2) and a mean flow of 15.7 m3/s (550 cu ft/s) as measured at Denver Sluice.
Its course has been modified several times, with the first recorded being in 1236, as a result of flooding. During the 1600s, the Old Bedford and New Bedford Rivers were built to provide a quicker route for the water to reach the sea. In the 20th century, construction of the Cut-Off Channel and the Great Ouse Relief Channel have further altered water flows in the region, and helped to reduce flooding.
Improvements to assist navigation began in 1618, with the construction of sluices and locks. Bedford could be reached by river from 1689. A major feature was the sluice at Denver, which failed in 1713, but was rebuilt by 1750 after the problem of flooding returned. Kings Lynn, at the mouth of the river, developed as a port, with civil engineering input from many of the great engineers of the time. With the coming of the railways the state of the river declined so that it was unsuitable either for navigation or for drainage. The navigation was declared to be derelict in the 1870s.
A repeated problem was the number of authorities responsible for different aspects of the river. The Drainage Board created in 1918 had no powers to address navigation issues, and there were six bodies responsible for the river below Denver in 1913. When the Great Ouse Catchment Board was created under the powers of the Land Drainage Act in 1930, effective action could at last be taken. There was significant sugar beet traffic on the river between 1925 and 1959, with the last known commercial traffic occurring in 1974. Leisure boating had been popular since 1904, and the post-war period saw the creation of the Great Ouse Restoration Society in 1951, who campaigned for complete renovation of the river. It was re-opened to Bedford in 1978, and is now managed by the Environment Agency.
The Ouse Washes are an internationally important area for wildlife. Sandwiched between the Old Bedford and New Bedford rivers, they consist of washland which is used as pasture during the summer but which floods in the winter, and are the largest area of such land in the United Kingdom. They act as breeding grounds for lapwings, redshanks and snipe in spring, and are home to varieties of ducks and swans during the winter months.
The river has been important both for drainage and for navigation for centuries, and these dual roles have not always been complementary. The course of the river has changed significantly. In prehistory, it flowed from Huntingdon straight to Wisbech and then into the sea. In several sequences, the lower reaches of the river silted, and in times of inland flood, the waters would breach neighbouring watersheds and new courses would develop – generally in a progressively eastwards fashion. In the Dark Ages, it turned to the west at Littleport, between its present junctions with the River Little Ouse and the River Lark, and made its way via Welney, Upwell and Outwell, to flow into The Wash near Wisbech. At that time it was known as the Wellstream or Old Wellenhee, and parts of that course are marked by the Old Croft River and the border between Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. After major inland flood events in the early 13th century it breached another watershed near Denver and took over the channel of the old Wiggenhall Eau, and so achieved a new exit and so joined the Wash at Kings Lynn. Parts of the old course were later used for the River Lark, which flows in the reverse direction along the section below Prickwillow, after the main river was moved further to the west. The original northern course began to silt up, depriving Wisbech of a reliable outlet to the sea, and was kept navigable by diverting the River Nene east to flow into it in the 1470s.
An Act of Parliament was passed in 1600 which allowed Adventurers, who paid for drainage schemes with their own money, to be repaid in land which they had drained. The Act covered large tracts of England, but no improvements were made to the region through which the Great Ouse flowed until 1618, Arnold Spencer and Thomas Girton started to improve the river between St Ives and St Neots. Six sluices were constructed, and Spencer attempted to obtain permission to improve the river to Bedford, but the Act was defeated, despite support from Bedford Corporation. Some dredging was done, and Great Barford became an inland port, but he lost a lot of money on the scheme, and the condition of the river worsened.
Below Earith, thirteen Adventurers working with the Earl of Bedford formed a Corporation to drain the Bedford Levels. Cornelius Vermuyden was the engineer, and a major part of the scheme was the Old Bedford River, a straight cut to carry water from Earith to a new sluice near Salters Lode, which was completed in 1637. The sluice was not popular with those who used the river for navigation, and there were some attempts to destroy the new works during the turmoil of the civil war. A second drainage Act was obtained in 1649, and Vermuyden oversaw the construction of the New Bedford River, parallel to the Old Bedford River, which was completed in 1652. There was strong opposition from the ports and towns on the river, which increased as the old channel via Ely gradually silted up. Above Earith, Samuel Jemmatt took control of the river, and navigation was extended to Bedford in 1689 by the construction of new staunches and sluices.
Between St Ives and Bedford, there were ten sluices, which were pound locks constructed at locations where mill weirs would have prevented navigation. There were also five staunches, which were flash locks constructed near to fords and shallows. Operation of the beam and paddle provided an extra volume of water to carry the boats over such obstructions. On the lower river, a combination of high spring tides and large volumes of floodwater resulted in the complete failure of Denver sluice in 1713. While there were celebrations among the navigators, the problem of flooding returned, and the channel below Denver deteriorated. Charles Labelye therefore designed a new sluice for the Bedford Level Corporation, which was constructed between 1748 and 1750 and included a navigation lock. No tolls were charged on the river below St Ives or on the New Bedford, and those responsible for drainage complained about damage to the sluices and to banks by the horses used for towing boats. An Act of Parliament to regulate the situation was defeated in 1777 after fierce opposition, and it was not until 1789 that a Haling Act was passed, which ensured that tolls were charged and landowners were repaid for damage to the banks caused by horses. These measures were a success, as there were few complaints once the new system was in place.
After the river had been diverted to King's Lynn, the town developed as a port. Evidence for this can still be seen, as two warehouses built in the 15th century for trade with the Hanseatic League have survived. However, the harbour and the river below Denver sluice were affected by silting, and the problem was perceived to be the effects of the sluice. Sand from The Wash was deposited by the incoming tide, and the outgoing tide did not carry it away again. Colonel John Armstrong was asked to survey the river in 1724, and suggested returning it to how it was prior to the construction of the drainage works. John Smeaton rejected this idea in 1766, suggesting that the banks should be moved inwards to create a narrower, faster-flowing channel. William Elstobb and others had suggested that the great bend in the river above King's Lynn should be removed by creating a cut, but it took 50 years of arguing before the Eau Brink Act was obtained in 1795 to authorise it, and another 26 years until the cut was finally opened in 1821. During this time, most of the major civil engineers of the time had contributed their opinions. The original project head and chief engineer was Sir Thomas Hyde Page.
The work was overseen by John Rennie and Thomas Telford and construction took four years. It proved to be too narrow, resulting in further silting of the harbour, and was widened at an additional cost of £33,000 on Telford's advice. The total cost for the 2 1⁄2-mile (4.0 km) cut was nearly £500,000, and although the navigators, who had opposed the scheme, benefitted most from it, there were new problems for drainage, with the surrounding land levels dropping as the peaty soil dried out. The Eau Brink Act created Drainage Commissioners and Navigation Commissioners, who had powers over the river to St Ives, but both bodies were subject to the Bedford Levels Corporation. Although often in opposition, the two parties worked together on the construction of a new lock and staunch at Brownshill, to improve navigation above Earith.
In 1835, King William IV brought a case against the Ouse Bank Commissioners regarding a mandamus writ issued in 1834 about the Eau Brink Cut and possible damages it caused to the King's Lynn harbour.
Denver sluice was reconstructed in 1834, after the Eau Brink Cut had been completed. Sir John Rennie designed the new structure, which incorporated a tidal lock with four sets of gates, enabling it to be used at most states of the tide. Sir Thomas Cullam, who had inherited a part share of the upper river, invested large amounts of his own money in rebuilding the locks, sluices and staunches in the 1830s and 1840s. The South Level Drainage and Navigation Act of 1827 created Commissioners who dredged the river from Hermitage Lock to Littleport bridge, and also dredged several of its tributaries. They constructed a new cut near Ely to bypass a long meander near Padnall Fen and Burnt Fen, but although the works cost £70,000, they were too late to return the navigation to prosperity. Railways arrived in the area rapidly after 1845, reaching Cambridge, Ely, Huntingdon, King's Lynn, St Ives, St Neots and Tempsford by 1850. The river below King's Lynn was improved by the construction of the 2-mile (3.2 km) Marsh Cut and the building of training walls beyond that to constrain the channel, but the railways were welcomed by the Bedford Levels Corporation, for whom navigation interfered with drainage, and by King's Lynn Corporation, who did not want to be superseded by other towns with railway interchange facilities.
A large interchange dock was built at Ely, to facilitate the distribution of agricultural produce from the local region to wider markets. In addition, coal for several isolated pumping stations was transferred to boats for the final part of the journey, rather than it coming all the way from King's Lynn. Decline on most of the river was rapid, with tolls halving between 1855 and 1862. Flooding in 1875 was blamed on the poor state of the navigation, and it was recommended that it should be abandoned, but there was no funds to obtain an Act of Parliament to create a Drainage Authority. The navigation was declared to be derelict by three County Councils soon afterwards. It was then bought by the Ouse River Canal and Steam Navigation Ltd, who wanted to link Bedford to the Grand Junction Canal, but they failed to obtain their Act of Parliament. A stockbroker called L. T. Simpson bought it in 1893, and spent some £21,000 over the next four years in restoring it. He created the Ouse Transport Company, running a fleet of tugs and lighters, and then attempted to get approval for new tolls, but was opposed by Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire County Councils. Protracted legal battles followed, with Simpson nailing the lock gates together, and the County Councils declaring that the river was a public highway. The 'Godmanchester' case eventually reached the House of Lords in 1904, who allowed Simpson to close the locks.
Simpson's victory in 1904 coincided with an increased use of the river for leisure. As he could not charge these boats for use of the locks, the situation was resolved for a time in 1906 by the formation of the River Ouse Locks Committee, who rented the locks between Great Barford and Bedford. Over 2000 boats were recorded using Bedford Lock in a three-month period soon afterwards. Despite pressure from local authorities and navigation companies, the upper river was closed for trade, and a Royal Commission reported in 1909 on the poor state of the lower river, the lack of any consistent authority to manage it, and the unusual practice of towing horses having to jump over fences because there were no gates where they crossed the towing path. The Ouse Drainage Board was formed in 1918, but had no powers to deal with navigation issues, and it was not until the powers of the Land Drainage Act (1930) were used to create the Great Ouse Catchment Board that effective action could be taken.
The Catchment Board bought the navigation rights from Simpson's estate, and began to dredge the river and rebuild the locks. There was an upturn in commercial traffic from 1925, when the sugar beet factory at Queen Adelaide near Ely was opened. They operated six or seven tugs and a fleet of over 100 barges, and three tugs and 24 barges from the Wissington sugar beet factory on the River Wissey also operated on the river. Local commercial traffic continued around Ely until after the Second World War. The sugar beet traffic ceased in 1959, and the last commercial boat on the upper river was "Shellfen", a Dutch barge converted to carry 4,000 imperial gallons (18,000 litres) of diesel fuel, which supplied the remote pumping stations until 1974, when the last ones were converted to electricity.
Below Denver, the situation was complicated by the fact that there were six bodies with responsibility for the river in 1913. No dredging took place, as there was no overall authority. The training walls were repaired in 1930 by the King's Lynn Conservancy Board, and the Great Ouse Catchment Board reconstructed and extended them in 1937. After major flooding in 1937 and 1947, and the North Sea flood of 1953, flood control issues became more important, and the Cut-Off Channel was completed in 1964, to carry the headwaters of the River Wissey, River Lark and River Little Ouse to join the river near Denver sluice. The Great Ouse Relief Channel, which runs parallel to the main river for 10 1⁄2 miles (16.9 km) from here to Wiggenhall bridge, was constructed at the same time. It joins the river at a sluice above King's Lynn, and was made navigable in 2001, when the Environment Agency constructed a lock at Denver to provide access.
The reconstruction by the Catchment Board had reopened the locks to Godmanchester and then to Eaton Socon by the onset of the Second World War. To continue the progress, the Great Ouse Restoration Society was formed in 1951, and successfully campaigned for and assisted with the restoration.
The Restoration Society campaign included the establishment of the Bedford to St. Neots Canoe Race in 1952 which helped publicise the case for navigational restoration. The race continues to this day as the Bedford Kayak Marathon, and is the longest established canoe race in the UK. In 1961 organisers of the 'Bedford Race' agreed to formalise canoeing activities and founded Bedford's Viking Kayak Club.
Since 1996, the river has been the responsibility of the Environment Agency, who issue navigation licences. The upper river was fully reopened to Bedford with the rebuilding of Castle Mills lock in 1978.
The non-tidal reaches of the river are used for leisure boating, but remain largely separated from the rest of the British inland waterway system. Several of its tributaries are navigable, including the River Cam, the River Lark, the River Little Ouse and the River Wissey. Close to Denver sluice, Salters Lode lock gives access to the Middle Level Navigations, but the intervening section is tidal, and deters many boaters. Access to the Middle Level Navigations is also possible via the Old Bedford River and Welches Dam lock, but this route is only open for a few weekends each year, and was heavily silted in 2009. The proposed Fens Waterways Link, which aims to improve navigation from Lincoln to Cambridge may result in this section being upgraded, or a non-tidal link being created at Denver.
There are two more proposed schemes to improve connections from the river to the Midlands waterway network (in addition to the Gt Ouse – Nene link via the Middle Level).
As the water quality has improved, otters have returned to the river in numbers such that fishing lakes now require fencing to protect stocks. Paxton Pits nature reserve near St Neots has hides from which otters are regularly seen. Coarse fishing is still popular, with a wide range of fish in the river, but it is many years since large sturgeon were caught. Seals have been recorded as far upstream as Bedford. Huntingdonshire seems to be the most popular area for breeding animals in recent years.
Tributaries of the River Great Ouse: (upstream [source] to downstream by confluence)
In 1944 the annual boat race between the Oxford and Cambridge universities took place on this river, between Littleport and Queen Adelaide, the only time that it has not been held on the Thames; it was won by Oxford. The Great Ouse is used by three clubs from Cambridge University for the training of rowers, with the Boat Club (CUBC),  the Women's Boat Club (CUWBC)  and the Lightweight Rowing Club (CULRC), all using facilities at Ely. Rowing is popular in several of the towns on the Ouse, especially Bedford, which is one of the most active rowing centres in the UK.
The Great Ouse is a very popular river for canoeing and kayaking, particularly around Bedford which is a regional centre for the sport. Canoe Trail offers people the chance to enjoy the river in Canoe, Kayaks or even Stand Up Paddleboards. Viking Kayak Club organise the Bedford Kayak Marathon with canoe racing held along the Embankment on Bedford's riverside and dates back to the original Bedford to St Neots race in 1952, believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
Bedford also benefits from the presence of weirs and sluices, creating white water opportunities. Viking organise national ranking Canoe Slalom events at the Cardington Artificial Slalom Course (CASC), which was the first artificial whitewater course in the UK, opened in 1982 adjacent to Cardington Lock, in a partnership with the Environment Agency who use it as a flood relief channel. CASC is also the venue each year for the UK's National Inter Clubs Slalom Finals, the largest canoe slalom event by participation in the UK.
Since 1978, the Bedford River Festival has been held every two years, to celebrate the link between Bedford and the coast. In addition to craft often seen on the river, the 2008 festival featured a reconstruction of a 1st-century currach, consisting of a wicker framework covered in cow hide, and capable of carrying ten people.
Media related to Great Ouse at Wikimedia Commons
Bedford is the county town of Bedfordshire, England. The town has an estimated (2017) population of 87,590, whereas the Borough of Bedford had an estimated population of 169,912.Bedford was founded at a ford on the River Great Ouse, and is thought to have been the burial place of Offa of Mercia. Bedford Castle was built by Henry I, although it was destroyed in 1224. Bedford was granted borough status in 1165 and has been represented in Parliament since 1265. It is well known for its large population of Italian descent.Bedford is on the Midland Main Line, with stopping services to London and Brighton operated by Thameslink, and express services to London and the East Midlands operated by East Midlands Trains.Begwary Brook
Begwary Brook in Bedfordshire is a four mile long tributary of the River Great Ouse. Its source is half a mile north of Duck's Cross, and it then flows east to join the Great Ouse in Wyboston. The Environment Agency classes its water quality as good.Begwary Brook is also the name of a nature reserve at the junction of the brook with the river, which is managed by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Gravel extraction has created a small lake and several smaller pools and marshland. The pools are surrounded by willow trees, and plants include common fleabane and marsh woundwort. Dragonflies and damselflies are common over the marsh in the summer.There is access to the site by a footpath from the Wyboston Lakes complex.Bromham, Bedfordshire
Bromham is a village and civil parish in Bedfordshire, England, west of the town of Bedford. It is within commuting distance of London via Bedford railway station.Carlton, Bedfordshire
Carlton is a village in north Bedfordshire in England. It is part of the Carlton with Chellington parish with the adjacent village of Chellington. The River Great Ouse runs just to the north of the village. Nearby places are Harrold, Pavenham, Turvey, Lavendon and Odell.
Carlton was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a parish within the Hundred of Willey. It was for some time spelt Carleton. In 1934, the separate parishes of Carlton and Chellington merged to become one the parish named Carlton with Chellington.
The village has historically been laid out in a rectangular road pattern, the main parts of the village being around the roads of Bridgend and the High Street, with The Moor and The Causeway making up the rectangle's other sides. During the twentieth century the areas in between were filled out with housing along the roads of Rectory Close, Carriers Way, Street Close, and Beeby Way.
Carlton Park is located in Rectory Close and features three swings, a small basketball court, a football pitch and a 1.5 meter slide. It also features one of the main landmarks of Carlton, its giant oak tree.
Carlton's church is Saint Mary the Virgin, dating from 950AD with a font from c. 1150 is sited outside the current village.
Carlton has two pubs, The Royal Oak and The Fox. There is a Post Office and village shop located on Carlton's busiest through road, Bridgend. There is also one school, Carlton C of E primary school. and village hall which is also used as the school's assembly and sports hall. The village has an Emmaus community which includes a busy cafe / restaurant, furniture repair workshop and secondhand shop with furniture, books, china, clothes and bric-a-brac.
The village was struck by an F1/T2 tornado on 23 November 1981, as part of the record-breaking nationwide tornado outbreak on that day.Cold Brayfield
Cold Brayfield is a village and civil parish in the Borough of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. It is about three miles east of Olney, on the Bedfordshire border. Nearby places are Lavendon and Turvey (over the bridge on the Bedfordshire side of the River Great Ouse). It is in the civil parish of Newton Blossomville.
Cold Brayfield is probably the place named as 'Bragenfelda' in a charter of 967. The elements of the name, 'brain' and 'field' are interpreted to mean 'open country on the crown of a hill'. The village name is later recorded in twelfth- and thirteenth-century charters as 'Brauefeld', 'Brawefeld' or 'Brauufeld', and becomes 'Cold Brayfield' towards the end of the sixteenth century. The prefix 'Cold' is believed to refer to the village's bleak location on the banks of the River Great Ouse, however there is no known record for this.
The Church of England parish church is dedicated to St Mary.Downham Market
Downham Market, sometimes simply referred to as Downham, is a market town and civil parish in Norfolk, England. It lies on the edge of the Fens, on the River Great Ouse, approximately 11 miles south of King's Lynn, 39 miles west of Norwich and 30 miles north of Cambridge.The civil parish has an area of 5.2 km² and in the 2011 census had a population of 9,994 in 4,637 households. For the purposes of local government, the parish falls within the district of King's Lynn and West Norfolk. It is part of South West Norfolk parliamentary constituency.
It was an agricultural centre, developing as a market for the produce of the Fens with a bridge across the Ouse. During the Middle Ages, it was famed for its butter market and also hosted a notable horse fair.
The market is now held Fridays and Saturdays on the town hall car park.
Notable buildings in the town include its mediaeval parish church, dedicated to St Edmund, and Victorian clock tower, constructed in 1878. The town is also known as the place where Charles I hid after the Battle of Naseby. In 2004 the town completed a regeneration project on the Market Place, moving the market to the town hall car park. The decorative town sign depicts the crown and arrows of St Edmund with horses to show the importance of the horse fairs in the town's history.
A heritage centre, Discover Downham, opened in a former fire station in 2016.Godmanchester
Godmanchester ( GOD-mən-ches-tər, traditionally GUM-stər) is a small town and civil parish in the Huntingdonshire district of Cambridgeshire, in England. Within the parish its buildings are concentrated at the north end including a section of the south-to-east bank of the River Great Ouse facing the large Portholme flood-meadow at the south end of the town of Huntingdon. The urban-to-suburban core of the area is entirely south of the A14 arterial road.Great Barford
Great Barford is a village and civil parish in Bedfordshire, England, a few miles north-east of Bedford. It lies on the River Great Ouse at grid reference TL129523. It is twinned with Wöllstein, Germany. The village is bypassed by the busy A421 road on the way between Bedford and St Neots in Cambridgeshire, the bypass opening on 24 August 2006.
The village is known for its All Saints Church, with a 15th-century tower, and its similarly ancient bridge. The surroundings and historic buildings make it a favoured destination for canoeing, angling and picnics. Nearby places include Renhold and Blunham.Great Barford Bridge
The early fifteenth century Great Barford Bridge, sometimes called simply Barford Bridge, spans the River Great Ouse at Great Barford, Bedfordshire. It is an arch bridge with seventeen arches, originally built from limestone and sandstone. The bridge underwent significant changes in the 19th century, with a widening project in 1818 that used wood being superseded in 1874 with the use of brick. It is Grade I listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
There is also a Barford Bridge which carries the River Ise over the A43 road between Rushton and Geddington in Northamptonshire.Huntingdon
Huntingdon is a market town in Cambridgeshire, England. The town was chartered by King John in 1205. It is the traditional county town of Huntingdonshire and the seat of the Huntingdonshire district council. It is well known as the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, who was born in 1599 and was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the town in the 17th century. The former Conservative Prime Minister (1990–1997) John Major served as the MP for Huntingdon from 1979 until his retirement in 2001.New Bedford River
The New Bedford River, also known as the Hundred Foot Drain because of the distance between the tops of the two embankments on either side of the river, is a man-made cut-off or by-pass channel of the River Great Ouse in the Fens of Cambridgeshire, England. It provides an almost straight channel between Earith and Denver Sluices. It is tidal, with reverse tidal flow being clearly visible at Welney, some 19 miles (31 km) from the sea.Newport Pagnell
Newport Pagnell is a town in Buckinghamshire, England. In the Borough of Milton Keynes, it is separated from Milton Keynes itself by the M1 motorway, on which is Newport Pagnell services. The Office for National Statistics records Newport Pagnell as part of the Milton Keynes urban area.Olney, Buckinghamshire
Olney (, rarely OL-nee) is a market town and civil parish in the Borough of Milton Keynes in South East England. At the 2011 Census, it had a population of around 6,500 people. It lies on the River Great Ouse, very close to the borders of Buckinghamshire with Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, and equidistant from Northampton, Bedford and Milton Keynes. It is accessed by the M1 at Junction 14 (approximately seven miles), with the closest passenger rail service at Milton Keynes Central and Bedford railway stations (each approximately twelve miles distant). It is a popular tourist destination, perhaps best known for the Olney Pancake Race and for the Olney Hymns by William Cowper and John Newton.Ouse Valley Way
The Ouse Valley Way is a 150-mile footpath in England, following the River Great Ouse from its source near Syresham in Northamptonshire to its mouth in The Wash near King's Lynn. The path begins outside the King's Head pub in Syresham (52.0683°N 1.0807°W / 52.0683; -1.0807 (Ouse Valley Way (Syresham trailhead))) and ends on the Green Quay in King's Lynn (52.7512°N 0.3935°E / 52.7512; 0.3935 (Ouse Valley Way (King's Lynn trailhead))).
There is a long-term plan to complete remaining gaps in the path, meanwhile it is possible to walk the entire route, although in places the footpath and river temporarily part company.
The route passes many interesting places and there is much to see, including attractive countryside, pretty villages, ancient English market towns, churches and a cathedral, and abundant wildlife.
Towns from source to mouth include Buckingham, Milton Keynes, Olney, Bedford, St Neots, Huntingdon, St Ives, Ely, Downham Market, and King's Lynn.
The route is way-marked and maintained by The Countryside Agency who also provide maps and written guides online.
A small section of the Ouse Valley Way is used on the Pathfinder March.Pavenham Osier Beds
Pavenham Osier Beds is a 1.3 hectare nature reserve south of Pavenham, on the banks of the River Great Ouse, in Bedfordshire. It is managed by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.This is a wet meadow next to the River Great Ouse, which has the uncommon flower meadow-rue. Osier is a type of willow which is continually cut, stimulating its growth and supplying material for basket weavers. The Trust is continuing the tradition by planting more osiers.An Osier bed is where historically willows were planted and coppiced to produce withies which were used for basket making, fish-traps, and other purposes. The willow species salix viminalis was typically grown for this purpose. Willow rods (cuttings) would be planted, which root easily in moist ground, and the growth of the willow withies would be cut every one or two years.There is access by a footpath on the left of Mill Lane. There are no footpaths in this small site.River Ivel
The River Ivel is a north-flowing river in the western part of east of England. It is primarily in Bedfordshire; it is a tributary of the River Great Ouse and has sources including in the Barton Hills.River Ouzel
The River Ouzel , also known as the River Lovat, is a river in England, and a tributary of the River Great Ouse. It rises in the Chiltern Hills and flows 20 miles north to join the Ouse at Newport Pagnell.
It is usually called the River Ouzel, except near Newport Pagnell where both names are used. The name Lovat was recorded (in the form "Lovente") in the thirteenth century, a map of 1724 marks the river as "Lowsel R", and a map surveyed in 1765 shows it as "Ouzel River". The modern Ordnance Survey uses only the name Ouzel, except north of Willen Lake where it is marked as "River Ouzel or Lovat".St Neots
St Neots ( NEE-əts) is a town and civil parish in the non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire, England, within the historic county of Huntingdonshire, next to the Bedfordshire county border. It lies on the banks of the River Great Ouse in the Huntingdonshire District, 15 miles (24 km) west of Cambridge and 50 miles (80 km) north of central London. St Neots is the largest town in Cambridgeshire with a population of approximately 40,000 in 2014. The town is named after the Cornish monk Saint Neot, whose bones were subject to translation from the hamlet of St Neot on Bodmin Moor on consecration of the Priory of St Neots circa 980.Pilgrimage to St Neots brought prosperity for the town, and it was granted a market charter in 1130. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the town enjoyed further prosperity through corn milling, brewing, stagecoach traffic, and railways. After the Second World War, the town and its industry grew rapidly as London councils paid for new housing to be built in the town to rehouse families from London. The first London overspill housing was completed in the early 1960s.Turvey, Bedfordshire
Turvey is a village and civil parish on the River Great Ouse in Bedfordshire, England, about 6 miles (9.7 km) west of Bedford. The village is on the A428 road between Bedford and Northampton, close to the border with Buckinghamshire. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 1,225.
River Great Ouse
River Great Ouse, England
(upstream to downstream)
|Major tributaries |
(upstream to downstream by confluence)
|Major bridges |
(upstream to downstream)
Rivers and watercourses of Norfolk
Rivers and watercourses of Northamptonshire