River Nene Low Water Levels

The wide River Nene near Northampton

Its not unusual to have navigation problems on rivers because water levels are high and currents are strong. What is rare, so far as we concerned, is the situation we now find ourselves in. Unable to navigate on a river because of low water levels.

We have had a glorious weeks boating on the River Nene with dry weather. Water levels have been low, streams slow and bridge heights generous. All was going well until yesterday when we heard from the Environment Agency (EA) about the levels of water in the Northampton Washlands area. It appears that the wide broad river upstream of Weston Favell Lock had become seriously shallow and levels were still falling making life difficult for boats to get to and from Northampton. This area is part of the extensive flood relief schemes near the town that store water and reduce the risks of flooding.

Albert draws around 30 inches of water. A week ago we found it difficult going downstream across the Washlands into Weston Favell Lock, picking up lots of weed around the prop and having to negotiating our way through the shoals before we reach the flood gate just above the lock. The thought of trying this again but with water levels even lower made us concerned. The problem is that getting stuck in the broad Washlands would not be trivial and the EA informed us that they no longer have the facilities to recover any stranded boats. They advised not proceeding but as normal "it's up to you".

We have therefore called a temporary halt on our return to Yardley Gobion and are at the new White Mills Marina near Earls Barton. The staff there are very helpful and friendly and are similarly concerned about levels. It will need to rain in the River Nene catchment before we can progress further with any confidence. At the time of writing the EA haven't yet issued a navigation notice but we have heard that the Northampton Boat Club have boats "sitting on the bottom". Deciding when it is safe for us to proceed may be tricky. We will need to keep contacting the EA and hope for rain.

Boating is always an adventure.