Rivers and brooks
The Welland in flood looking towards Wakerley and Fineshade Woods
Forest landscapes - rivers and brooks
On the east, Rockingham Forest is bounded by the River Nene, with the Willow Brook and many smaller streams draining an extensive area. On the west, where the River Welland is the forest boundary, the land falls away more quickly, with Fineshade Brook the main tributary. Much of the higher ground is covered in heavy clay which forms a fairly flat plateau. All the major remaining woodlands lie on this higher, poorly draining, ground which was difficult to cultivate.
Two contrasting rivers
This picture shows the Nene Valley and was taken from the castle mound at Fotheringhay. The river itself is wide and navigable for most of the year because of a system of locks. The valley too is wide and flat with indications of low hills rising gently in the far distance.
By contrast the Welland Valley is narrower and the land rises more steeply to higher hills. This picture shows the famous brick-built Harringworth railway viaduct. The river too is narrow and is certainly not navigable. It forms the county boundary between Rutland and Northamptonshire.
Here are two bridges that indicate the relative width of the rivers. Many arches for the old bridge carrying the Great North Road over the Nene at Wansford, but a much shorter bridge enabling the old Leicester Road to cross the Welland at Duddington.
Rising in Corby, this picture shows Willow Brook running though Deenethorpe.
The higher ground between the two rivers is drained by smaller water-courses, the most substantial of which is Willow Brook.
A series of settlements were all established close to this important water course.
It feeds into the man-made lakes at Deene and later flows into Blatherwycke Lake as shown here.
The picture was taken at KIng's Cliffe where the water runs clear and families often paddle and play in the stream on summer days.
Fineshade Brook rises near Gretton, and feeds into the lake at Harringworth Lodge. This picture shows it passing through the Bulwick Estate.
Further downstream the brook makes slower progress as it crosses the flatter land before joining the Nene near the castle at Fotheringhay
After crossing under the A43 this brook runs alongside the site of the Norman castle at Fineshade as shown here. It then passes through Fineshade Abbey lakes.
Further downstream a long tunnel allows the brook to flow under the embankment of a disused railway line. Here it is fed by numerous springs emerging from the limestone underlying the clay. This gives the water a strong alkaline quality and there are unusual deposits of tufa in the stream.
Alongside Fineshade Wood and before reaching the Welland, the brook passes through an area of wet woodland including Alder carr. This habitat occurs in only one other place in Northants and it is unique in the Welland catchment too.