GUIDE TO THE RIVER NENE
('Naseby Nene' - Merry Tom Lane to the Sea)
NAME OF RIVER: River Nene ('Naseby Nene').
WHERE IS IT?: Northamptonshire.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: See below.
APPROX LENGTH: Naseby Nene from Merry Tom Lane to confluence about 6 miles, 2 hours.
Confluence to Wellingborough 13 miles, 4 hours, more in low water.
Wellingborough to Denford 12 miles, about 3 hours, more in low water.
From Flore to the sea about 127 miles. Has been done in 18 hours, with relays of paddlers in marathon and sea kayaks. Watch the tides around Wisbech - rumoured to reach 7 knots.
TIME NEEDED: See above.
ACCESS HASSLES: Access: Above Northampton there doesn't seem to be a problem. The local lawyer-friendly fishing club claim to own bits of it, but have never produced evidence. Below Northampton it's a navigation so with an EA license or BCU membership you should be OK. However the fisherman dispute whether the back channels are part of the navigation (the EA say they are). See notes below.
The Environment Agency do not approve of shooting their structures. They do not wish to be held responsible for any accidents. Be careful out there!
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: See below.
GRADING: Flat with weirs.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Weirs. Barbed wire.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: There are two branches above Northampton - the Naseby Nene and the Daventry Nene. The Naseby branch can be paddled after heavy rain (no more than 12 hours after usually) from Chapel Brampton. The best get-in is down Merry Tom Lane, river right upstream of the bridge. Don't leave more than one car here. If the river is more than about three feet below the banks, don't bother paddling. It needs to be too high for fishing. If it's bank high, take care of barbed wire and the weir near Brampton crossing.
About a mile from the start is a small chute round a left-hand bend. There may be a steel stake in the centre. Just downstream is a road bridge with two arches. Check for barbed wire. In another quarter of a mile is a two-step weir. In high water it is a probable portage, or even paddle round it through the fields. In lower water, shoot the first drop sideways, then turn for the stopper on the second drop.
After the road bridge, and another mile or so, is Walkers Mill, with a new weir. This is apparently very canoe-friendly, with a plastic sill strip, and access points above and below. As I haven't paddled it, inspect first. An alternative start in lower water is Kingsthorpe mill, river left above the road bridge.
As you enter Northampton, and the road runs alongside the river, there is a choice between a side weir and a narrow channel ahead. The narrow channel reaches a mill race under a bridge which can produce a difficult stopper. The get-out above it is poor, and it is a long portage. It's fun if shootable. The alternative side weir has a nasty stopper in medium levels, but washes out when it's really high. Beware of bushes immediately downstream.
By the station is another side weir which can be fun. There is rubble in the bottom, and the slot in the weir has rough brickwork, so be careful. If you choose not to shoot the weir, there is a small rapid under West Bridge. A short run through the old gas works, and past Carlsberg, brings you to South Bridge, where the two rivers and the canal join.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Alan Adams http://www.nckc.freeserve.co.uk/