(Pronounced “NEN” from source down to Peterborough and “NEEN” from Peterborough to the sea)
The River Nene is the tenth longest river in the United Kingdom. From its source at Arbury Hill to Northampton the river falls a total of 300 feet (91 m) in 17 miles (27 km). For the remainder of its course, the Nene falls less than 200 feet (61 m). It has a catchment area of 631 square miles (1,630 km2) and a mean flow of 328 cubic feet (9.3 m3) per second. The final 88 miles (142 km) from Northampton to the Wash is navigable.
From Northampton, the river flows along a broad valley, formed by the enormous amount of water released by the melting ice during the Ice Age, towards the east coast. The Nene now meanders through this wide, flat valley with flood plains, lakes, pools and mature flooded gravel pits on either bank, a by-product of the large glacial deposits in the valley.
At Denford the river divides into two channels, one of which is used for navigation. The channels approach the town of Thrapston and village of Islip, passing under two adjacent viaducts. One carries the busy A14 trunk road; the other carries the disused railway track bed. Between the town of Thrapston and the village of Islip, the Nene is spanned by a low nine-arched bridge. Just north of Thrapston the river forms part of the 180 acres (73 ha) of Titchmarsh Nature Reserve. The reserve, designated in 1989, consists of two lakes, a woodland, river banks and areas of grass and scrub in which some ponds have been dug. The reserve is operated by Northamptonshire County Council, with the approval of the Nature Conservancy Council. At Aldwincle another tributary, called Harpers Brook, joins the Nene from the north west. Harpers Brook flows between gravel pit lagoons before converging with the river. The river flows south of Oundle passing Barnwell Country Park and Oundle Marina under a bridge of the A605 road. At grid reference TL116976, the Romans bridged the river with Ermine Street in the first century.
There are moorings at Nine Arch Bridge on the Islip side of the river and just after the Locks about a half mile further downstream, adjacent to the flooded gravel pit of the Middle Nene Sailing Club.