Environmental management – guidance

River Great Ouse: bridge heights, locks, overhead power lines and facilities

Information for boaters on the River Great Ouse.

The River Great Ouse and its tributaries, the Rivers Cam, Lark, Little Ouse, and Wissey provide approximately 255 kilometres of navigable waterway.

Visit the Inland Waterways Association website to see the Fens Waterways map and about the Waterways Link project.

Read the recreational byelaws for Anglian waterways.

River Great Ouse bridge heights

When approaching a bridge, ensure there’s enough space between your boat and the roof of the bridge to allow your boat to pass safely. Headroom is usually indicated by a gauge board on the bridge.

Bedford Ouse: Bedford to Hermitage

Location Headway (metres) Headway (feet)
Bedford Lock Footbridge 2.1 6’11”
Footbridge 2.1 7’0”
Road Bridge 2.7 8’10”
Footbridge 2.9 9’6”
Railway bridge 2.3 7’6”
Road and Pipe Bridge 2.7 8’10”
Sewage Works Bridge 2.6 8’8”
Railway Bridge 2.6 8’8”
A421 Road Bridge 6.2 20’4”
Footbridge 4.4 14’5”
Road Bridge (GT Barford) 3.0 9’9”
Footbridge 4.5 14’9”
Tempsford Old Road Bridge 3.1 10’1”
Tempsford New Road Bridge 3.7 12’
A428 Road Bridge 6.1 20’
Eaton Socon Lock Footbridge 2.7 9’
St Neots Town Bridge 2.8 9’2”
St Neots Paper Mill Bridge (B1041 Road Bridge) 2.9 9’5”
Offord Lock Bridge 2.5 8’1”
Railway Bridge 4.8 15’9”
A14 Road Bridge 5.5 18”
Huntingdon Bridge 3.4 11’2”
Hemingford Lock Bridge 2.7 8’10”
St Ives Town Bridge 2.7 8’10”
A1096 Road Bridge 4.1 13’5”
Rail Bridge 3.8 12’5”
Hermitage Lock 3.4 11’1”

Old West: Popes Corner to Hermitage Lock

Location Headway (metres) Headway (feet)
Railway Bridge 3.6 11’9”
Wicken Road Bridge 3.2 10’6”
Green End Road Bridge 3.5 11’5”
Lazy Otter Road Bridge 3.2 10’6”
Cambridge A10 Bridge 3 9’10”
Twentypence Road Bridge 3.3 10’8”
Aldreth High Bridge 4 13’1”
Willingham Flat Bridge 3 9’10”
Hermitage Lock Road Bridge 3.4 11’1”

Ely Ouse

Location Headway (metres) Headway (feet)
Ten Mile Rail Bridge 4 13’1”
Hilgay Road Bridge 4 13’1”
Littleport A10 Road Bridge 3.4 11’1”
Sandhills Road Bridge 3.45 11’3”
Queen Adelaide Road Bridge 3.16 10’4”
Queen Adelaide Rail Bridge - -
Potters Road Bridge 3.4 11’1”
Potters Foot Bridge 3.5 11’4”
Railway Bridge d\s of Ely, Willow Walk 3.1 10’1”
Loveys Road Bridge 3.25 10’8”
Railway Bridge u\s at Ely 3.06 10’
Ely High Bridge 3.19 10’5”
Newmarket Railway Bridge 3.15 10’4”

River Cam: Popes Corner to Jesus Lock

Location Headway (metres) Headway (feet)
Dimmocks Cote Road Bridge 3.7 12’1”
Dimmocks Cote Road Bridge 3.1 10’2”
Clayhithe Road Bridge 3.4 11’1”
Baitsbite Lock 3 9’10”
A14 Road bridge 4.9 16’
Stourbridge Footbridge 3.2 10’6”
Elizabeth Road Bridge 4.9 16’
Midsummer Common Foot Bridges x2 3 9’10”
Victoria Road Bridge 3.2 10’6”
Jesus Lock 4 13’1”

The Lodes

Location Headway (metres) Headway (feet)
Upware Lock and Road Bridge, Reach Lode 2.7 8’10”
Wicken Lode Foot Bridge 2.7 8’10”
High Bridge, Burwell Lode 2.7 8’10”
The Anchor Road bridge, Burwell 2.5 8’2”

River Lark: Ely Ouse to Judes Ferry

Location Headway (metres) Headway (feet)
Branch Bridge 3.4 11’1”
Railway Bridge, Prickwillow 3.1 10’2”
Prickwillow Road Bridge 3 9’10”
Isleham Lock 2.65 8’69”
Judes Ferry 3.2 10’6”

Little Ouse: Ely Ouse to Brandon

Location Headway (metres) Headway (feet)
Brandon Creek A10 Road Bridge 3.1 10’2”
Little Ouse Village Road Bridge 3.1 10’2”
Redmere Farm Road Bridge 3 9’10”
Hockwold Sluice 3 9’10”
Railway Bridge d\s Brandon 2.7 8’10”
Brandon Lock 2 6’6”

River Wissey: Ely Ouse to Whittington

Location Headway (metres) Headway (feet)
Railway Bridge 2.7 8’10”
Hilgay A10 Road Bridge 2.6 8’6”
Hilgay Old Road Bridge 2.6 8’6”
Wissington Foot Bridge 3 9’10”
Wissington Beet Factory Pipe Bridge 3.2 10’6”
Wissington Beet Factory Old Road Bridge 3.5 11’5”
Wissington Beet Factory New Road Bridge 4 13’1”
Stoke Ferry Sluice 3 9’10”
Stoke Ferry Road Bridge 2.5 8’2”
Whittington Road Bridge 2.9 9’6”

River Great Ouse locks

There are 22 locks on the River Great Ouse and its tributaries.

Lock dimensions

Name Lock length (metres) Lock length (feet) Lock width (metres) Lock width (feet) Lock depth (metres) Lock depth (feet) Lock headroom (metres)
Bedford lock 29.7 97’ 5” 3.3 10’ 9” 1.1 3’ 7” 2.05
Cardington lock 28.5 93’ 6” 3.15 10’ 3” 1.15 3’ 9” 2.75
Castle Mills lock 29.5 96’ 9” 4 13’ 1” 1.2 3’ 11” 4.3
Willington lock 29.5 96’ 9 4 13’ 9” 1.3 4’ 3” -
Roxton lock 26 85’ 4” 4 13’1” 1.15 3’ 9” 2.75
Great Barford lock 29.5 96’9” 4 13’ 1” 1.2 3’ 11” 4.55
Eaton Socon lock 31.5 103’ 4” 3.3 10’ 9” 1.6 5’ 2” 2.7
St Neots lock 32.9 177’ 1” 3.3 14’ 1” 1.05 3’ 11” 3.2
Offord lock 30.5 100’ 3.4 11’ 1” 1.2 3’ 11” 2.5
Brampton lock 31.7 104’ 3.4 11’ 1” 1.45 4’ 9” 2.8
Godmanchester lock 30.5 100’ 4 13’1” 1.1 3’ 5” 2.75
Houghton Lock 37.5 90’ 3” 3.65 11’ 11” 1.5 4’ 11” 2.75
Hemingford lock 28 91’ 10” 3.85 12’ 7” 1.5 4’ 11” -
St Ives lock 31.3 102’8” 3.35 10’ 11” 1.5 4’ 11” -
Brownshill lock 30 98’ 4 13’ 1” 1.5 4’ 11” 3
Hermitage lock 30.5 100’ 4 13’1” 1.5 4’ 11” 2.75
Bottisham lock 29.8 97’ 7” 4.5 14’ 7” 1.5 4’ 11” -
Upware lock 18.7 61’ 3” 4.3 14’ 1” 1.3 4’ 2” -
Isleham lock 26.8 87’9” 4.55 14’ 9” 1 3’ 2” -
Brandon lock 12.4 40’ 6” 3.7 12’ 1” 1.4 4’ 5” -
Denver lock 39.5 96’ 7” 5.4 17’ 7” 2.04 6’ 6” -
Relief channel lock 30 98’ 4” 4.6 15’ 2 6’ 5” 2.75
Jesus lock* 32 104’ 9” 3 9’ 8” 1.4 4’ 5” -
Baits bite lock* 32 104’9” 4.3 14’ 1” 1.2 3’ 9” -

Distances between locks

Name Distance to next lock downstream (kilometres) Distance to next lock downstream (miles) Cruising time to next lock downstream (minutes) Facilities
Bedford lock 5 3.1 45 -
Cardington lock 2 1.24 30 -
Castle Mills lock 4.5 2.79 40 -
Willington lock 1.5 0.93 25 -
Roxton lock 8 4.97 1hr 30 -
Great Barford lock 3 1.86 35 water tap
Eaton Socon lock 3.2 1.99 40 -
St Neots lock 6.5 4.04 1hr -
Offord lock 3 1.86 35 -
Brampton lock 2 1.24 30 -
Godmanchester lock 6 3.73 50 -
Houghton Lock 2.5 1.75 30 -
Hemingford lock 3 1.86 35 -
St Ives lock 8 4.97 1hr 30 refuse disposal
Brownshill lock 3.5 2.17 40 -
Hermitage lock 23 14.29 4hr 10 refuse disposal, toilets, showers, water tap, lock keeper
Bottisham lock 15 9.32 1hr 30 -
Upware lock 4.6 2.86 60 -
Isleham lock 16 9.94 2hr 30 -
Brandon lock 22 13.67 4hr -
Denver lock and Complex 18 11.18 4hr water tap, lock keeper
Jesus lock* 25 15.53 3hr pump out, refuse disposal, water tap
Baits bite lock* 21 13.05 2hr 15 -

*Jesus lock and Baits bite lock are managed by Conservators of the River Cam.

Speed limits

All speed limits are indicated on the River Great Ouse and its tributaries.

Speed limits on the Great Ouse vary between 4 mph (6.4 kmph) to 7 mph (11.2 kmph). On the tidal section of the river the speed limit is 15mph (24.1 kmph).

There is a speed indication system on the Ely Ouse to make the river safer. Two transit posts have been installed on the riverbank and serve as speed markers. When travelling between the 2 posts it should take at least 30 seconds or longer. If it takes less time than this then you’re speeding and must slow down.

Overhead power lines

There are headroom restrictions from overhead power lines on the River Great Ouse.

Because river levels change and overhead power line heights vary, we cannot provide the heights of power lines.

Some network operators specify exclusion zones around power lines, depending on the voltage being transmitted. This is to prevent electricity arcing or jumping from a transmitting wire to a boat mast, for example.

If your vessel has raised masts, radio aerials or booms you should contact the local electricity network operator before using the waterway.

For more safety advice see the Energy Networks Association guide ‘Safety information for watersports’.

Strong stream advice

Locks on the rivers Nene and Great Ouse are ‘reversed’ during floods and high flows. This closes the affected locks to navigation. The Environment Agency recommends that you don’t navigate during these periods. When strong stream advice is in force, signs along the river are activated and some marinas and boat clubs display red flags.

Call the floodline information service to find out whether the strong stream advice is in active.

Telephone: 0345 988 1188
Select option 1
River Nene quick dial number: 032112
River Great Ouse quick dial number: 033211

Mooring

Read the Anglian waterways guide for information on mooring.