The River Great Ouse

river Great Ouse
Guide to the River Great Ouse.
The River Great Ouse is the fourth largest river in the UK. It is roughly 140 miles long and flows through stunning countryside in some of the most scenic counties in England.

It offers excellent coarse fishing and currently holds the UK barbel record at 21lb 1 ounce, caught in November 2006.

For barbel anglers, this river has to be on their 'to fish' list!

The Path of the River Great Ouse

The River Great Ouse rises near the village of Syresham in Nottinghamshire, England.

The river initially flows southwest forming the border between Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. It passes north of the Buckinghamshire village of Biddlesden and then flows past the southern edge of the Northamptonshire village of Whitfield.

After leaving Whitfield the river starts to take a south southwesterly course, passing north of the Buckinghamshire village of Turweston, then flowing past the southeastern edge of the Northamptonshire town of Brackley.

From Brackley, the River Great Ouse continues to form the Northamptonshire / Buckinghamshire border as it heads east southeast. About a mile downstream of Brackley, the river starts to form the Oxfordshire / Buckinghamshire border and flows past the village of Westbury (Buckinghamshire) and the Oxfordshire hamlet of Fulwell.

At Fulwell the Great Ouse takes a more easterly course passing the southern edge of the Buckinghamshire village of Water Stratford, where it leaves the border behind and heads into Buckinghamshire.

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The River Great Ouse then meanders its way past the village of Radclive and into the town of Buckingham, which it enters from the west. The river flows through the town creating some beautiful swims as it snakes its way to the eastern side of town.

As the river leaves Buckingham it starts to head northeast, just downstream the Great Ouse absorbs one of its tributaries, Padbury Brook, and continues its northeasterly course. After the river passes the village of Thornton it once again defines the Northhamptonshire / Buckinghamshire border, then flows on past the village of Beachampton.

The river continues northeast flowing near the villages of Deanshanger (Northamptonshire), Passenham and Calverton. It then goes on to pass between Old Stratford and Stony Stradford, as the river passes the Northamptonshire village of Cosgrove it absorbs a tributary, the River Tove, leaves the border behind and heads back into Buckinghamshire, passing the Milton Keynes constituent town of Wolverton, the village of Great Linford and the town of Newport Pagnell.

At Newport Pagnell the Great Ouse meets another tributary, the River Ouzel, then heads off in a northwesterly direction, taking it past the villages of Sherington, Tyringham and Gayhurst. At Gayhurst the river starts to head northeast, passing the villages of Filgrave, Weston Underwood and Emberton, then on to the town of Olney.

The Great Ouse runs along the southern edge of the town of Olney, before heading up its eastern flank. As the river flows north up the flank of the town, the village of Clifton Reynes lies on the eastern bank.

From Olney the river winds its way east, passing the village of Newton Blossomville and becoming the border between Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire.

River Great Ouse at Harrold
Just downstream of Newton Blossomville the Great Ouse heads north, continuing to define the border for around 2 miles, before heading in a more northeasterly direction to the Bedfordshire village of Harrold.

As the river flows along the southern edge of Harrold, the villages of Carlton and Chellington lie on the southern bank.

The river then heads northeast, passing the Harrold Odell Country Park and on to the village of Odell, where the Great Ouse heads east to the idyllic village of Felmersham. From the village of Felmersham the river begins to head north at first, passing the village of Sharnbrook before starting to wind its way south, passing the villages of Bletsoe, Radwell, Milton Ernest, Pavenham, West End, Stevington, Oakley and Clapham.

Downstream of Clapham the River Great Ouse touches the northern edge of the town of Bedford and heads west on to the village of Bromham, at Bromham the river heads south taking it past the villages of Biddenham and Box End. It continues south until it reaches the town of Kempston.

At Kempston the river starts to head east, flowing between Bedford on its northern bank and Kempston on its southern bank. The Great Ouse leaves Bedford from the eastern edge of the town, it then heads northeast passing the village of Great Barford and meeting another tributary at the village of Tempsford, the River Ivel, the river then continues on past the village of Roxton and on to the border between Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

The river crosses the border into Cambridgeshire, heading north northeast the river flows into the largest town in Cambridgeshire, St Neots.

As the river leaves St Neots it heads north northeast absorbing the River Kym and passing the villages of Little Paxton, Buckden and Brampton. The next settlement on the banks of the river is the town of Godmanchester, the Great Ouse flows north up its western flank and on to the town of Huntingdon.

The river creates some beautiful swims as it flows through Huntingdon, offering some great fishing with all of the amenities you would expect from a modern town. The Great Ouse leaves Huntingdon from the eastern edge of the town and takes an easterly course passing the villages of Hemingford Grey and Fenstanton, before changing to a northerly course heading between the villages of Needingworth and Over, passing the village of Bluntisham and on to the village of Earith.

River Great Ouse Cambridgshire
At Earith the River Great Ouse splits to create the Old Bedford River and the New Bedford River, both of which head off northeast, creating a flood plain between them, before rejoining the Great Ouse near Downham Market in Norfolk. The River Great Ouse heads southeast flowing between the villages of Willingham and Haddenham, it then winds its way east passing close to the village of Stretham, before meeting one of its tributaries, the River Cam, just downstream of Stretham.

After absorbing the River Cam, the River Great Ouse heads north northeast, passing the villages of Little Thetford and Barway, then on to the cathedral city of Ely.

As the river leaves the town of Ely behind it continues on its north northeasterly course, picking up another tributary around 3 miles downstream of Ely, the River Lark. It then heads past the village of Littleport, after which it takes a more northeasterly course on to Brandon Creek which sits on the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk border, and where the Great Ouse absorbs its tributary, the River Little Ouse.

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From Brandon Creek the Great Ouse heads north, flowing past the Norfolk villages of Southery and Ten Mile Bank, then on to Salters Lode picking up another tributary as it flows, the River Wissey. At Salters Lode the Old Bedford River and the New Bedford River rejoin the Great Ouse, with the village of Denver sitting on the eastern bank.

Downstream of Salters Lode the Great Ouse becomes tidal and heads north northeast, passing the town of Downham Market and passing near the villages of Wimbotsham, Stow Bridge, Runcton Holme, Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen, Watlington, Wiggenhall St Peter and Wiggenhall St Germans.

The last major settlement on the banks of the River Great Ouse is the Norfolk town of King's Lynn, after which the river heads north, absorbs its final tributary, the River Babbingley, and finally discharges into The Wash.

Species of fish found in the River Great Ouse include:

Fishing Clubs & Societies with fishing rights on the River Great Ouse

River Great Ouse Counties & Tributaries

  • Flows through counties:
    • Northamptonshire
    • Buckinghamshire
    • Cambridgeshire
    • Norfolk
  • Tributaries include:
    • River Tove
    • River Ouzel
    • River Ivel
    • River Kym
    • River Cam
    • River Lark
    • River Little Ouse
    • River Wissey
    • RIver Babbingley
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