The Middle Level Navigations are a network of waterways in the Fens between the River Nene at Peterborough with the Great Ouse at Denver Sluice. There are three locks along the shortest route (28.5 miles - 45.8 km) between Peterborough and Salters Lode, although the total length of the Middle Level Navigations is over 90 miles (145 km) excluding those sections managed by the Environment Agency. There are also many interconnecting, but unnavigable drains.
Most of the Middle Level Navigations are operated by the Middle Level Commissioners, other than the Old and New Bedford River / Hundred Foot Drain, and the Forty Foot River east of Horseway Lock, which are managed by the Environment Agency.
The main navigable drains are:
Bevill's Leam (4.9 miles)
Black Ham Drain (3.6 miles)
Forty Foot River (10.5 miles - excluding Environment Agency's section)
Kings Dyke (4.3 miles)
New Dyke (3.3 miles)
Old Nene River (26.1 miles)
Popham's Eau (2.3 miles)
Ramsey High Lode (1.1 miles)
Sixteen Foot River (9.6 miles)
Twenty Foot River (10.4 miles)
Well Creek (5.4 miles)
Whittlesey Dyke (6.1 miles)
The maximum size of boat that navigate most areas of the Middle Level is
length: 80' (24.4 metres)
beam: 11' 6" (3.5 metres)
height: 6' 6" (1.98 metres)
draught: 3' (0.9 metres)
The shortest lock is Stanground Sluice (80ft), but boats over 72ft are likely to have difficulty negotiating Briggate Bend in Whittlesey, just west of Ashline Lock. Deep-draughted boats need to be positioned with great care through Stanground Sluice.
Welches Dam Lock (currently closed awaiting funding for major repairs) along the Forty Foot Drain limits navigation to boats under 47ft (14.3m), and Lodes End Lock the southernmost section of the Old River Nene limits boats to under 68ft (20.7m). Horseway Lock, at the eastern end of Forty Foot Drain has a limit of 60ft (18.3m).
The turning area at Ramsey is limited to boats up to 60ft (18.3m).
For all areas except the Old and New Bedford River, and Forty Foot River east of Horseway Lock
Middle Level Commissioners
Middle Level Offices, 85 Whittlesey Road, MARCH, PE15 0AH
T: 01354 653232
Middle Level Commissioners website
For the Old and New Bedford River, and Forty Foot River east of Horseway Lock
Aqua House, Goldhay Way, Orton Goldhay, PETERBOROUGH, PE2 5ZR
T: 01733 371811
Environment Agency website