From Saturday 29th to Monday 31st August the Inland Waterways Association is holding a major waterways event on the river Nene in Northampton.
Northamptonshire is known as the county of ‘squires and spires’ and Northampton is great to visit at any time, offering plenty of cultural heritage and historical architecture. There are ancient churches, impressive buildings and bygone battle sites. You may also visit the shopping centres, parks, museum and art gallery.
But on the August Bank Holiday this year up to 200 boats, including leisure, trade, heritage and working narrowboats will be moored in the marina and along the river front as well as an array of smaller craft, sailboats, windsurfers and ribs. There will also be trip boats and water taxis available for festival visitors.
This year’s Northampton Festival of Water celebrates the 200th Anniversary of the opening of the Northampton Arm in 1815 which connects the Grand Union Canal to the Nene in Northampton, creating a navigable channel to the East Anglian waterways and the Wash. This connecting waterway enabled working boats to transport ironstone, limestone, grain, flour, coal and timber.
This year’s boating event will promote Northampton’s riverside, to acknowledge the value of the Nene to the town and its people and to encourage more people to use the waterway for boating and leisure. The event will include live music, Morris dancing, a German Shepherd Dog Display Team, children’s fairground rides, face painting and balloon modelling. There are also a variety of talks on waterways topics, a boater’s quiz and an open mic night. (More details on the IWA website.)
Through Northampton boaters on the Grand Union Canal can access Peterborough, Ely, Cambridge, St. Ives, Huntingdon and Bedford using the Nene, Middle Level and Fenland waterways. These less-travelled waterways of the East of England are quiet enough for a relaxing boating holiday or fishing trip. However if you have extra energy to burn off you could also try canoeing, kayaking or countryside cycling. Fox Boats hire boat base is ideally located for exploring these little-known waterways. Check out Fox Route 3 and Fox Route 4 which take you onto the River Nene.
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History of IWA Narrowboat festivals