The Rivers of Huntingdonshire

The River Great Ouse and the River Nene

The Rivers of Huntingdonshire, the Great Ouse and the Nene.


Huntingdonshire has two large rivers, the Nene and the Great Ouse. The main watershed of these rivers is in the higher lands of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, while some of their tributaries rise in the "highland" on the west of the county itself.

The River Nene

The Nene rises in the western part of Northamptonshire and first reaches Huntingdonshire at Elton, from which place it forms the western and northern boundary of the county until it comes to Peterborough. At Stanground sluice, a mile south-east of the city, the river divides into two branches, one going north-east and the other still forming the county boundary for another mile, until at Horsey sluice it turns south-west, and takes a circuitous route through the north-eastern part of the county.

This branch, now an insignificant stream was at one time the main river, its waters finding an outlet into the Wash by means of a junction with the Ouse at Salter's Lode. In its course it passed through the far-famed Whittlesey Mere, and also through Ugg and Ramsey Meres, finally leaving the county near Benwick.

The River Great Ouse

The Ouse rises near Brackley in Northamptonshire, passes through the counties of Northampton, Oxford, Buckingham and Bedford, and enters Huntingdonshire near St. Neots, flowing thence nearly due north to Huntingdon, where it turns and takes an easterly course to St Ives: then, a few miles further, it forms the boundary between Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.

River Great Ouse

The River Great Ouse - A view from "The Thicket" nature Reserve looking towards the spire of All Saint's Parish Church, St Ives

The River Great Ouse - A view from "The Thicket" nature Reserve looking towards the spire of All Saint's Parish Church, St Ives


At Earith sluice it divides into two rivers. One called the West Water, running north towards Chatteris ferry and joining the old course of the Nene near Benwick, is now nearly over grown and obliterated, though in many paces it still forms the boundary between the Isle of Ely and Huntingdonshire. The other, called the Old West river, runs in an easterly direction towards Ely, three miles south of which it receives the waters of the River Cam or Granta,; it then flows on past Denver sluice and Salter's Lode, where it receives the combined waters of the old Nene and the West Water, and then it flows direct to the Wash.

Numerous brooks and watercourses draining the county feed these two rivers. Among others the Billing Brook runs into the Nene near Water Newton, and the Broughton Brook into the old course of the Nene below Ramsey.

The Ouse receives the Kym, the Alconbury Brook, the Ellington Brook, and other smaller tributaries.