How to get there - From Huntingdon take the A14 south east for about three miles, passing through Godmanchester. Turn left into Gore Tree Road. Continue into Braggs Lane then, at junction , turn left into High Street. Continue 150 yards to the river and park where it's convenient.
For those with SatNav the postcode is PE28 9BN.
Get a map with driving directions to start (enter the postcode of your starting point at A)
Suggested Launch Site - There is a canoe launching site at the wharf.
Description - There is excellent access to the water at Hemmingford Grey and we had no problem getting the red beast into the water.
A shortish paddle upstream (15 mins) brings you to Houghton Lock where the best portage point is just around to the right of the lock, opposite the hire boat moorings. I noticed they had a rather new looking red canoe in amongst the rowing boats, which was a little annoying as over the last couple of months I've found it very difficult to find places that rent canoes on the Gt Ouse. Upstream of the lock there is a fairly straight section, with the breeze coming directly downriver on this occasion.
Just after Hartford Marina we decided to turn left down Cooks Backwater which bypasses the Huntingdon frontage and any touristy boat traffic. The backwater is a lovely narrowish section with, on this occasion, crystal clear water. Once clear of the backwater it's not far before you come to Godmanchester Lock with the best portage point I've seen in my very limited canoeing experience. I read somewhere that all of the locks on the Nene are going to have canoe portage points added this winter (2009-2010), I only hope they are all as good as this one!
Brampton Mill is the obvious place to stop for a beer and to turn around.
After a little liquid refreshment and a bite to eat we cast off to head back to Hemingford. It had taken us two and a quarter hours to get to Brampton against the flow.
The first bridge downstream of Brampton Mill is the railway bridge. The river is very peaceful between Brampton and Godmanchester and it was noticeable how few motor craft passed us all day. We portaged the Godmanchester Lock like a finely tuned machine and powered on down towards Huntingdon.
The first thing you see as you get near to Huntingdon is probably the ugliest (and noisiest) bridge which holds up the A14. The stretch in front of the Huntingdon river frontage is fairly bland, but once past it the scenery starts to improve, especially around Hartford which has a rather nice church.
Once safely past the Godmanchester portage you enter what is probably the most picturesque part of the journey between Houghton and Hemmingford Grey.
I would recommend this stretch of the Gt Ouse for a day paddle and Brampton Mill is very nice place to stop for a drink and some food.
Comments on this trip
Keith 08 Aug 2020
Cooks Backwater is currently passable (and delightful). There are a couple of logs/fallen trees and some narrow sections but we did it easily this morning in a couple of kayaks. There was also a family in a four person canoe that came through.
08 Aug 2020
Paul 26 Aug 2019
Please note that Cooks Backwater is now clogged with weed .
Debby 16 Jul 2019
You can now hire canoes from Godmanchester £15 per hour and Hartford Marina £45 per day respectively. July 2019
Colin 16 Jun 2013
Passing the A14 you missed Boathaven. An idyllic campsite and boating marina, under the A14 ( So nice in so many ways, but so not for me (