River Great Ouse

River Great Ouse

LaunchesPublic RoutesKnown HazardsParking


Many waterways in England and Wales require a licence to paddle. Check the licence section below to see if this is one. Save money on your licence and secure paddling insurance by joining British Canoeing. Use our easy step RapidJoin process. Open the slider to join.

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River Licensing Information

License Authority

Environment Agency

Further Information

British Canoeing membership includes: a licence to paddle below Kempston and the flood relief channel, and between the head sluice lock at Denver and the Tail sluice at Saddlebrow.

The “King of all Ouse’s,” the River Great Ouse runs for a whopping 143 miles! Starting life near Syresham and flowing through East Anglia, the river passes through the historic market town of Kings Lynn before entering the Wash.

It has been historically important for trade but post-industrial revolution has become increasingly popular with many river users. Paddlers looking for a fun day out on the water included! It’s length makes it a perfect river for multi-day adventures.

The River Great Ouse – not to be confused with the River Ouse or River Little Ouse – is a nature lover’s dream, and is popular with coarse fishermen. Due to the improved water quality of the river, the otter population is booming.

Seals also swim in the river. They have been reported as far upstream as Bedford! Those who paddle slalom will be familiar with this river as it is where the Cardington White Water course is based… home of the annual Interclubs competition.

And a little trivia for those quiz lovers… the river is the only place where the annual Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race has taken place outside of the River Thames. It hosted the competition once in 1944