A walk along the River Nene

25 October 2011


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River Nene, PeterboroughRiver Nene, Peterborough

Pronounced as the ‘neen’ in Peterborough and the ‘nenn’ in the Fens, the River Nene is the 10th longest river in England, covering 17 miles across Northamptonshire to the Norfolk coast, forming the border between Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. Used by canal boats even today and a major force for industry in the region in the time before the Railways, the Nene provides a beautiful and tranquil walking and cycle route through the Peterborough Unitary Authority area. Beginning at Nene Valley Railway and through Ferry Meadows country park walking along the river is peaceful except for the steam trains whistle and birdsong.

A stroll along the River Nene

From here to the city centre the river passes under a series of bridges, one of them the only remaining iron bridge on the East Coast main line, a listed structure which is situated directly next to a slightly more recent bridge from the 20th century. Along the bank is Charters floating pub, in an old grain barge, and the town bridge and old Custom House of the city. From here the Key Theatre can be seen emerging from the trees of the Embankment Area , with the Bishops Gardens and Cathedral above showing where the city centre is. Across from this is the old Peterborough East Station, no longer in operation. From here it’s a quick cycle or a leisurely walk along the ‘Green Wheel’ cycle network to Flag Fen Archaeological park. From the end of this route you can see the Nene Washes beyond, the original tidal section of the River.

The spelling of the river has changed from Nenn to Nyn across the different areas, leading to the current different pronunciations today. Where the name comes from is now lost in the mists of time, and debates about the pre-Celtic or Celtic origins of the name continue, but the river itself feels timeless.

Posted by Alice Kershaw, Heritage Regeneration Officer, Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough City Council

  • October 27, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Bloged by Bob Currell

    The perceived wisdom is that the name originates from the fact that there were once nine springs that fed into the source around Northampton. Today only two remain identifiable – one close to the battlefield at Bosworth.

    The bridge outside Thrapston traditionally marks the ‘change of pronunciation’ boundary. Look upstream from it and it’s the ‘nen'; look downstream to Peterborough and the Wash and it’s the ‘neen’.

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