The Fens Waterways Link is the biggest waterway enhancement project in Europe. Linking Lincolnshire and the River Witham with Cambridgeshire and the River Great Ouse, the ambitious six-phase scheme will comprise some 50 miles of new navigations and will open up access to a further 145 miles of waterways, connecting the cathedral cities of Lincoln, Peterborough and Ely with the market towns of Boston, Spalding, Crowland and Ramsey. New locks will be built, drains made navigable and canals cut.
Amidst great celebrations, Phase 1 was brought to a successful conclusion in March 2009 with the official opening of Boston Lock (pictured left), connecting the Haven at Boston with the South Forty Foot Drain.
Phases 2 and 3 of the project involve the connection of the South Forty Foot Drain with the River Glen at Guthrams Gowt, and with the Glen above Surfleet Seas End Sluice along Vernatt’s Drain (pictured left). This will run parallel to the River Welland to beyond Platt’s Bridge, where a new channel will be built to join the River Welland above Fulney Lock. Final stages of the scheme will see a link provided between the Welland and the Nene at Peterborough. Thereafter, the proposal is to complete a route from Peterborough to Earith without boaters having to use the tidal Great Ouse at Salters Lode. The plan is to use the Forty Foot Drain from Horseway Lock to the Old Bedford River, which would then be made navigable from Welches Dam to Earith - although Welches Dam is currently, and controversially, closed.