River Nene: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the River Nene.

  • The River Nene is the 10th longest river in the UK, at 161 km long. It flows from its source in Arbury Hill in Northamptonshire, to the Wash in Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

  • In April 1998, heavy rain caused the Nene to flood. In 2002 in Northampton, flood walls were built and a siren warning system installed, to protect and alert residents.
  • The Nene Way is a long distance footpath, following the banks of the Nene for much of its length. Walkers on the trail can explore sites associated with Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • The River Nene is navigable for most of its length, from its junction with the Grand Union canal to the Wash. Boats up to 23 metres long can safely use the river.
  • Northampton is one of the largest towns in England. It was once an important centre for shoe making, and much of the town was destroyed by fire in 1675.
  • Several watermills are on the banks of the Nene. Hardwater Mill is almost 1,000 years old and was used as a hiding place by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the 12th century.
  • Watling Street passes over the River Nene, close to its source. The ancient trail stretched from Canterbury to Hadrian’s Wall, and was used by the Romans.
  • The Nene Washes is a specially protected area of 15 square km along the river. In winter, thousands of birds nest here on their way south, including owls, lapwings and swans.
  • Not far from the River Nene is the Nene Valley Railway. Restored steam trains run on the 20 km line and it has featured in over 100 films and television programmes.
  • The city of Peterborough is one of the sunniest and driest places in the UK. A green metal railway viaduct crosses over the River Nene, designed by the famous engineer, Joseph Cubitt.

What next? Discover more facts about rivers by visiting our rivers resources page.

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