River Nene: bridge heights, locks and facilities

Information for boaters on the River Nene.

The River Nene links the Grand Union Canal to the River Great Ouse via the Middle Levels. Originally a commercial navigation, the Nene is now used almost entirely for recreation.

The Environment Agency navigation starts at the junction with the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal near Cotton End Lock. It extends 91 miles to the sea, ending at Bevis Hall just upstream of Wisbech.

Read the recreational byelaws for Anglian waterways.

You need to register your boat with the Environment Agency if you want to take your boat on this stretch of the River Nene.

If you are visiting the River Nene from the Grand Union Canal you can buy your visitor registration and navigation key from the Environment Agency marina at Northampton.

River Nene bridge heights

Location Headway (metres) Headway (feet)
Billing Bridge 2.4 7.87
Whiston Farm Bridge 2.8 9.18
Doddington Road Bridge 2.6 8.53
Wollaston Footbridge 2.6 8.53
Mills Road Bridge 2.6 8.53
Ditchford Bridge 2.7 8.86
Higham Ferrers Farm Bridge 2.9 9.51
Irthlingborough Bridge 2.6 8.53
Ringstead Bridge 2.75 9.02
Woodford Old Rail Bridge 2.9 9.51
Denford Farm Bridge 2.6 8.53
Pipes Viaduct 3.0 9.84
Islip Road Bridge 2.7 8.86
Islip Footbridge 2.2 7.2
Thrapston Footbridge 2.5 8.2
Titchmarsh Farm Bridge 3.0 9.84
Thorpe Bridge 2.6 8.53
Achurch Footbridge 2.6 8.53
Ashton Footbridge 2.5 8.53
Cotterstock Bridge 2.7 8.86
Fotheringhay Bridge 2.1 6.89
Elton Footbridge 2.8 9.19
Wilgar Bridge 2.6 8.53
Nene Valley Rail Bridge 3.3 10.83
Bluebell Footbridge 2.8 9.19

Speed limit

The navigation has a speed limit of 11.2 kmph (7mph).


There are 38 locks between Northampton and Peterborough. Typical lock dimensions are 26 metres long and 4.6 wide. Most locks have pointing doors at the upstream end and vertical guillotine gates at the lower end.

You’ll need an Environment Agency navigation key to operate the guillotine gates and a windlass to fit 2.6 centimetres square to operate the paddles.

You can get navigation keys along with registrations and pumpout tokens from:

  • Northampton Marina 01604 604344 (maps and electricity cards are also available)
  • Peterborough Visitor Information Centre 01733 863775
  • Dog in a Doublet lock 01733 202219


The Environment Agency hasn’t got any permanent moorings on the River Nene.

Boats must not be moored within 36 metres (118 foot) of any lock, sluice, weir or water intake expect when navigating a lock.

At the Dog in a Doublet lock, Bedfore Sluice lock (Northampton) and Weston Favell, (Northampton), you can’t moor for 100 metres on both sides of the structure.

You can’t use the landing stages either side of the lock for overnight mooring.

Tidal passage

The river is tidal for 45 kilometres downstream of the Dog in a Doublet lock. Registered craft can pass through the lock every day from 7.30am until sunset.

Call 01733 202219 before you arrive to arrange passage.

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.

You can also call the floodline information service to find out whether the strong stream advice is active.

Telephone: 0845 988 188
Select option 1
River Nene quick dial number: 032112
River Great Ouse quick dial number: 033211


Environment Agency sanitary facilities (water, pump out, chemical toilet disposal) are available at Northampton Marina and Wellingborough Embankment. The pump outs at both these locations are token operated. Tokens are £10 each and can be purchased from the Environment Agency (telephone 03708 506 506) and at Northampton marina (telephone 07867 580129).

Find out about call charges.

There are also water points at:

  • Thrapston Nine Arches mooring
  • Wadenhoe
  • Upper Barnwell lock
  • Yarwell lock

Water is free at all Environment Agency sites.

Published 1 April 2014
Last updated 1 September 2016 + show all updates
  1. Removed a link.
  2. Reference to Gayton marina removed as they are no longer agent for the Environment Agency.
  3. Some small updates
  4. New information added.
  5. First published.