Kyme Eau
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The River Slea & the Kyme Eau 

Rising on the limestone hills of Willoughby Heath the Slea flows eastwards to the Witham, changing its name to the Kyme Eau halfway.  

In 1792 it was canalised from Carre Street Wharf in Sleaford but the navigation was abandoned in 1878 and the locks replaced with fixed sluices.  In 1977 the Sleaford Navigation Society started converting the sluices back to gated locks.  

Normally iGreens oppose repairing this sort of navigation.  We prefer to see rivers in their natural state (click here to read more), but we make an exception for this one.   

In the absence of man the Slea would be impenetrable marsh.  No-one is suggesting allowing the fens to return to their natural state, so they need to be managed.  A waterway from Sleaford to the Witham would be a wonderful amenity.  We wish the restorers well.   Click here for their website.  

More recently, in Feb 2003, the Slea was seriously polluted by a spill of the pesticide Cypermethrin into a tributary, the Nine Foot river.  About 100,000 fish died over a 15 mile stretch of river.  It was a bad thing, but rivers recover.  It was good to see many fish in the river in April 2006. 

Enough preamble.  On to the itinerary.  

In the centre of Sleaford the river is inviting, but too small to canoe.

Slea in Sleaford1.JPG (904172 bytes)   Slea in sleaford2.JPG (902911 bytes)  Slea in Sleaford3.JPG (904309 bytes)

And there is an impassable little weir under a low footbridge just below the shopping centre.

weir on Slea in sleaford 4.JPG (873392 bytes)

The upper part of the old navigation looks inviting too.

upper navigation above filled in section sleafordab.JPG (183573 bytes)    upper navigation above filled in section sleaford2ab.JPG (263747 bytes)

But is not connected downstream

Upper end of slea navigation filled in.JPG (220085 bytes)

0 miles - The Hub art centre

After rain it is possible to canoe from here. The early part of the year is best before the reeds grow too dense.  Car parking and access from left bank in front of the art centre.  

Slea in front of the Hub sleaford1.JPG (247099 bytes)    Sleafootbridge1 in front of the Hub sleaford2.JPG (329415 bytes)

Three mosaics on the right bank commemorate the Navigation

Sleaford horse power mosaic.JPG (119327 bytes)    Sleaford man power mosaic.JPG (107870 bytes)   sleaford wind power mosaic1.JPG (136365 bytes)

0.2 miles - Footbridge

slea footbridge2.JPG (216724 bytes)     

The old river Slea branches off right over a weir.  It rejoins below Cobblers lock.

Old river slea leaving the navigation.JPG (295251 bytes)

0.5 miles - Cogglesford watermill

Cogglesford mill1.JPG (308213 bytes)    reflection.JPG (465675 bytes)

Open to the public and sometimes working.  Enclosed undershot wheel.

Land left, carry over bridge and launch right

slea launch spot below cogglesford mill.JPG (244902 bytes)   slea looking upstream to cogglesford mill.JPG (310942 bytes)

0.6 miles - two pipes

slea pipes below cogglesford mill.JPG (250836 bytes)

1 mile - railway bridge

slea rail bridge.JPG (276026 bytes)

1.5 miles - Bone Lock and A 17 Sleaford bypass bridge

bone lock.JPG (243106 bytes)   bone lock2.JPG (271814 bytes)   a17bridge.JPG (264472 bytes)

Portage right.

2 miles - Corn mill lock (remains) and footbridge. Holdingham flour mill left.

slea disused lock 2 miles.JPG (222434 bytes)   slea disused lock 2 miles2.JPG (226279 bytes)   holdingham flour mill.jpg (13566 bytes)

Portage right.  Over the wooden bridge is the old flour mill and the hexagonal Navigations Toll Collection Office.  

toll house1.JPG (410015 bytes)   toll house2.JPG (232170 bytes)

Look out for the naked woman on the left bank.

statue.JPG (112794 bytes)

2.25 miles - Paper mill lock and road bridge (Also called Leasingham mill)

Slea broken lock 2.25 miles.JPG (295509 bytes)  Slea broken lock 2.25 miles2.JPG (196072 bytes)  slea roadbridge 2.25 miles.JPG (298284 bytes)    paper mill.JPG (459918 bytes)

Portage right

2.8 miles - bridge

bridge2.JPG (283071 bytes)    bridge.JPG (347395 bytes)

3 miles.  Channel enters woodland.

3.3 miles - Haverholme Lock 

haverholme.JPG (629509 bytes)   haverholme2.JPG (533937 bytes)   haverholme3.JPG (629833 bytes)


3.5 miles - Haverholme Priory bridge 1893

Haverholme priory bridge1.JPG (304984 bytes)   Haverholme priory bridge2.JPG (265965 bytes)

Towpath left but access right.  Car park.

The day I visited a crowd of "twitchers" had their cameras pointed at a pair of Hawfinches nesting in a tree next to the Priory.  Apparently rare locally, although a regular at Clumber Park in Notts.

Haverholme priory haw finch.JPG (109735 bytes)   Haverholme priory haw finch2.JPG (135105 bytes)    Haverholme priory ruin.JPG (204210 bytes)

Stream enters  left. 

3.8 miles - Pipe bridge 

raised pipe.JPG (243942 bytes) Nicely raised to allow boats to pass when the navigation is restored.

The river widens out and becomes deep enough to be paddled in normal conditions for the rest of its length. 

4.8 miles - Arnwick 

Slea Anwick 1.JPG (192952 bytes)   Slea anwick2.JPG (192217 bytes)  

Access left. Land about 100 yards after the four tall concrete structures.

5 miles - Cobblers Lock 

cobblers lock.JPG (283952 bytes)   below cobblers lock.JPG (191705 bytes)

Portage left or line down.  This lock is being restored, although there wasn't much activity when we paddled through in April 2006. Landing stage below the lock.  

The Old River Slea which left the navigation above Cogglesford rejoins right below the lock. 

old slea.JPG (322546 bytes)    old slea2.JPG (213369 bytes)  old slea junction.JPG (412162 bytes)

7.2 miles - Ferry Farm corner 

ferry farm corner.JPG (215810 bytes)   Slea bridge at right turn name change to Kyme eau.JPG (290441 bytes)    ferry farm.JPG (168478 bytes)

Sharp right turn.  The river name changes to the Kyme Eau here.  The next section is part of an old Roman canal which ran from Waterbeach to Lincoln, the Car Dyke.  

car dyke swans.JPG (107702 bytes)

8 miles - metal farm bridge

farm bridge.JPG (206078 bytes)

8.4 miles - Farm bridge on the outskirts of South Kyme

Slea farm bridge south kyme.JPG (246728 bytes)   farm bridge2.JPG (277941 bytes)

South Kyme church and separate tower left.  The tower was built in the 1350s by Gilbert de Umfraville.   Originally four towers formed a substantial castle but only one remains.

South kyme church.JPG (179822 bytes)   south kyme tower2.JPG (122300 bytes)

Rickety bridge

rickety bridge.JPG (309552 bytes)

9 miles - South Kyme bridge

south kyme side road bridge.JPG (248089 bytes)   Slea south kyme.JPG (237715 bytes)   slea south kyme2.JPG (174779 bytes)

The Hume Arms left has now closed.  But the word is that a restaurant will be opening on the same site later in 2006.  

South Kyme is such a lovely village that we've given it it's own page of photographs.  Click here.  

Wooden carving on bank of a kingfisher holding a fish, followed by a small post carving of a pair of fish.  

9.3 miles - B1395 bridge

slea south kyme B1395.JPG (195457 bytes)  south kyme downstream.JPG (250422 bytes)

The river turns around more northwards.  High embankments in open farmland.  

11 miles - Lower Kyme Lock 

Restored with a guillotine gate at its upstream end.

12 miles - Bridge Farm bridge

13 miles - Chapel Hill bridge

Chapel hill bridge and sluice gate.JPG (217480 bytes)   chapel hill sluice gate.JPG (138047 bytes)

Automatic flood control gates, usually open.  Roadside parking.  Crown Lodge left.  

Camping at Orchard Caravans and Camping Park.  Tel 01526 342414, mobile 07810 603723

Moorings from here to the River Witham.

kyme eau junct with witham1.JPG (146711 bytes)    kyme eau junct with witham2.JPG (163284 bytes)


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Last modified: September 20, 2006