River Ivel

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The river at Biggleswade

The River Ivel is a river in the east of England. It is a tributary of the River Great Ouse.

Course of the Ivel[edit]

The river Ivel rises just north of Baldock in Hertfordshire, but most of its course lies within Bedfordshire. It flows through Stotfold, Arlesey, Henlow, Langford, Biggleswade, Sandy and Blunham. It joins the Great Ouse at Tempsford. The total length is about 25 km.


A tributary of the River Ivel is the River Hiz, which joins near the village of Henlow. Another tributary is the River Flit, which joins the Ivel near Langford, and once formed part of the Ivel Navigation to Shefford, Bedfordshire.


The section from Langford to Blunham, including Sandy, is designated as a Flood Warning Area. For further details see the Environment Agency website

Nature Trail[edit]

The 'Kingfisher Way' is a 34 km / 21 mile nature trail, which mostly follows the River Ivel from its source at Ivel Springs in Baldock, through to its confluence with the River Great Ouse at Tempsford.[1] [This website is, on 12 Jul. 2011, merely a source of advertisements]

Ivel Navigation[edit]

Plans for a canal for the River Ivel were first announced in 1756. Locks were built in 1758 at Tempsford, Blunham, South Mills and Sandy. Although tolls were initially lower than expected and the operators were in debt, trade increased rapidly and the creditors were all paid off by 1780. In the early nineteenth century the canal was extended to Shefford, with locks at Biggleswade, Holme, Stanford, Clifton and Shefford, and it was opened in 1823. The canal was abandoned in 1876 when a dam was built across it at Sandy, the relevant act in Parliament being passed in the same year.

You can see the wall of the wharf at Shefford by the bridge over the River Flit. A footpath runs alongside the river, which had been canalized. After crossing the footbridge over the River Hit, the path continues straight ahead for some way until the river returns. The canal, made from the river, used to run immediately to the left of the path, but was filled in after World War 2 as it was considered dangerous. The present course of the river there was originally the millstream for Shefford Mill, close to the remains of the tower mill still visible.

Further on, to the east of the village of Stanford a wooden footbridge crosses the river at the site of Stanford Lock, one of the best preserved on the old canal.[2]

Navigating the Ivel[edit]

Although the river is no longer navigable to larger craft it is possible to canoe with care along the 11 km/ seven miles of river between Biggleswade and Tempsford.[3] This, of course, is advisable only under good conditions, when the river is not too low or too high.

Angling on the Ivel[edit]

Much of the River Ivel has fishing rights reserved by local angling clubs and associations.

The Ivel is becoming known for the quality and size of specimen fish that can be caught, including barbel (10-17+ lbs), perch (4 lbs+), chub (7 lbs+), roach and carp to 20 lb, and pike.[citation needed]


  1. ^ For information about the Kingfisher Way walk see the Ivel and Ouse Countryside Project website http://www.ivelvalley.co.uk/walk01.html
  2. ^ "Shefford Canal". Shefford Town Council. Shefford Town Council. Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  3. ^ see http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/our-sport/where-to-paddle/ivel-river/ for further information on access for canoeists

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°06′12″N 0°16′12″W / 52.10346°N 0.27004°W / 52.10346; -0.27004