Nene Valley Festival

The Nene Valley Festival takes place each September and aims to promote the Nene Valley as a destination to local, national and international audiences. Managed by the Destination Nene Valley partnership, led by East Northamptonshire Council, the festival will introduce visitors and residents to different perspectives of the Nene Valley through co-ordinated events which show the area as being a positive place to visit or live in.

The Festival celebrates areas of unique heritage assets and natural environment to reinforce a sense of place and local identity, this, in turn, will attract visitors to the area boosting the local economy.  For more information and to view photographs from the 2016 festival go to the Nene Valley Festival website.

This 3-minute video highlights the main features of the Nene Valley Festival.

Walking in Time

Within this project Nene Park Trust will be offering two apprenticeships through Peterborough Regional College; creating a heritage trail using a geophysical survey (produced by Durham University) of the park and estate; art installations will connect the City of Peterborough to the park and a section of the boardwalk in Bluebell Woods will be re-installed.

A two-minute video showing the work of Nene Park Trust through Walking in Time



Enabling Access From Waterway to Land

The Environment Agency, in partnership with Nenescape, commissioned a Waterspace Study, which will be used to prioritise access improvements to and from the River Nene. You can download a copy here. Identifying the needs of river users, and potential river users, the Environment Agency’s Anglian Waterways team will work with other organisations to support the community on and around the river by providing access to other transport links, increasing the use of leisure activities and improving interpretation for users.

One of the Waterspace Study workshops: River users and the wider community had the opportunity to share their knowledge of the river, express any concerns or desires which then fed into the study.

One of the Waterspace Study workshops: River users and the wider community had the opportunity to share their knowledge of the river, express any concerns or desires which then fed into the study.

This 4-minute video will tell you more about the Environment Agency's project with us.

Settlers of the Nene Valley

Settlers of the Nene Valley, led by Rockingham Forest Trust, project explores and celebrates the 4,000+ years of settlement in the central Nene Valley, and focuses on making its rich history real for local people. In imaginative ways which involve and inspire, the project will create a better understanding of how successive settlers changed the valley, what can still be seen of this today, and what can be learned from them. Activities, events and practical learning experiences for communities and primary schools will focus on three key aspects of the Nene Valley’s heritage: the journeys settlers made, where and how they lived, and what we can learn today from past settlers.

Whether re-creating dwellings and daily life, or exploring the changing cultural beliefs and lasting effects on the landscape, the project will provide immersive heritage experiences: Roman cookery demonstrations, building a multi-era barn and learning timeless skills such as blacksmithing are just some of the activities which will be on offer.

The project is being undertaken by Rockingham Forest Trust, an environmental charity which has been connecting people and places for over 20 years. Our vision is: 'to bring wide-ranging community benefits through creating and conserving special green spaces, and exploring local heritage, in ways which educate, involve and inspire'. The Trust is based at the beautiful Stanwick Lakes, where many of the activities will take place.

Find out more about this project with this two-minute video clip

Resilient River

Led by River Nene Regional ParkResilient River is a project which aims to select around 5 sites along the Nene Valley for improvement. Specifically focussing away from the main navigation channel to improve backwaters and meanders will provide safe and supportive habitats for fish and eel populations to breed. In turn this will support a greater range of wildlife along the river and opportunities for the public to see how rivers can be cared for.

A two-minute video giving more information about Resilient River project

Building Bridges

Building Bridges has been piloted in other regions of the United Kingdom; as a Nenescape partner we are providing research and developing the project, aiming to encourage the integration of different communities through angling.  We hope to share and celebrate the history of fishing in the Nene Valley; to help anglers to understand fishing practices and laws and to improve communication between anglers so they can share experiences.

To find out more visit the Angling Trust website or watch the video below.

The Angling Trust is seeking a motivated and profession person to join the team and help deliver this partnership project. Click here for more information.

This 2-minute video shows more information about 'Building Bridges'.

Out to Water, Into History

This project aims to offer a safe and attractive green route enabling access to and from Rushden to the River Nene and the newly-built Rushden Lakes complex. As a result of the new complex, a bridge will be built across the A45; the existing stretch of Greenway will be extended to meet the bridge and within Rushden town to extend access up to the properties originally built for boot and shoe workers.

Signposting, interpretation boards, a mural and a locally derived “welcome” installation will be features included in the project. Artcodes technology will invite people to explore further along the route. A “Friends of Greenway” group will be created to ensure this asset is maintained; students from Moulton College will be given the opportunity to input into the landscaping of the project using heritage materials; links will be forged with Crown Park businesses to sponsor events and activities along the Greenway in the future; tree and eco-surveys will be undertaken and a foraging/cookery project will be delivered.  To find out more about this project please visit East Northamptonshire Council's website.

This short video describes 'Out to Water, Into History' in more detail.

Nene Journey ('Nen')

The massed ensemble at the Royal Albert Hall on 14 November 2017

The massed ensemble at the Royal Albert Hall on 14 November 2017

Nene celebrates the people, places and history of the River Nene, and is based on two folk melodies: one from the Badby Morris Men, who hail from the source of the river and one collected by Vaughan Williams on the Fens. We hear the gentle beginnings of the river as it flows to Northampton and the sound of red kites high in the air. A gentle melody represents Higham Ferrers, the childhood home of the composer and in Oundle we hear the sound of the Drumming Well.

Now of all the great wonders that ever was known,
And some wonderful things have occur’d in this town,
This great Peterborough railway will beat them all hollow,
And whoever first thought of it was a wonderful fellow

Passing Fotheringhay, and the distant sound of the Nassington Brass Band, we approach Wansford and the Peterborough Steam Railway, built in 1845. As the river flows out onto the Fens we hear the tragic story of Molly, who was lost in the river, but who we hear as a Will’o the Wisp, “guiding the wearisome traveller home.”

But our Molly lives on as a Will’ O the Wisp
Dancing and playing on the fens in the mist

In Wisbech the sounds of the Carillon form the setting for a poem by John Clare. Here the tidal river can be seen, and heard, flowing backwards. King John’s army arrive as we approach Sutton Bridge, where the Crown Jewels were lost in the marshes. Then the river finally empties itself into the Wash at the tumultuous end of its 123 mile journey.

Composer Benjamin Till grew up near the river and was a member of the Northamptonshire County Youth Orchestra and County Youth Choir performing at the Schools Proms in the early 1990’s. After further studies he became a professional composer, with a particular interest in Musical Theatre. He selected Nene as the subject matter and embarked on a solo six day adventure to walk the entire length of the river. The resulting composition features many of the sounds and experiences collected on his trip; a true personal odyssey of discovery.

The Proms performance will be the premiere of a shortened version of Nene. It includes an interactive water-powered sculptural art installation created by Festive Road, and will celebrate the launch of Nenescape. A full 25-minute version will be performed in at the Derngate, Northampton on 8 March and at Peterborough Cathedral on 17 March. To find out how to win tickets to either performance through Heritage Lottery's #ThanksToYou campaign, click here. 

Community Grants

Through a community grant, we will encourage people to engage with their local area and its heritage. 

This project is primarily a small grant programme, which will provide two community grant streams:

‘Stories of the Nene’ grant – a small grant up to £3k for volunteer-led projects which help preserve, restore and repair heritage (natural and built) within the Nene Valley, projects that improve learning opportunities and access to local heritage and better understanding of the historic and present natural landscape

Flagship project grant - a further grant up to the value of £40k will be awarded to a community project that can demonstrate outcomes from each of the three themes – Listen to the Past, Explore the Now and Secure the Future.

Investing in Skills

Investing in Skills plans to provide a programme that can offer the most effective training and education for the sustainability of the projects and the communities they impact, as well as providing support for people working within the scheme by developing skills and opportunities to access professional development and higher level qualifications.

Training grants within this programme have been developed though consultations with our wider partners who highlighted key training needs amongst volunteer groups.

The University of Northampton is a designated Changemaker campus and as such provides a key outlet for students of multiple disciplines to engage with heritage and the Nene Valley in a unique way and Nenescape can help meet the need for students to access a variety of ‘on site’ work experience.

Nene Park Trust has a long-standing record for investing in trainees and apprenticeships and the large estate can offer access to a mixture of natural conservation opportunities as well as Roman archaeology, the former estate of Milton family, the ferry bridge and the Nene Valley Railway on their doorstep. Therefore, Nene Park Trust have offered to host apprenticeship places to support the training need in the area. In addition, Rockingham Forest Trust at Stanwick Lakes will also provide some onsite opportunities for these apprenticeships to broaden their experience of heritage management. 

Farming for the Future

Farming for the Future intends to offer grants and support to encourage the restoration and creation of meadows and wetlands alongside the river. These margins will provide a haven for wildflowers and wildlife and will help to provide a buffer between river and land by soaking up water from the river and absorbing pollutants from farmland.

Grazing animals will be kept away from the riverbank which will also help to improve water quality whilst the trees and hedges will provide habitats for fish and insects in the river.

River Nene Regional Park will be working with the Wildlife Trust and local farmers to deliver this and the Nenescape team will help create some exciting ways to find out about the history of haymaking and the memories of farming traditions along the Nene. Watch the video below for more information.

This 3-minute video shows more information about 'Farming for the Future'.

Ice Age to Digital Age

We are pleased to be working with some passionate and creative organisations who can help share the incredible stories of the Nene with local communities and visitors through creative and exciting interpretation. Introducing Screen NorthantsHorizon Digital Economy Research Institute at the University of Nottingham and Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust.

Screen Northants will be working with us to deliver Nenescape on Film - an exciting project which will document the development and delivery of our partners' projects, as well as producing material to help promote our work. We'll be working with volunteers to get stuck in with helping to choose filming locations, writing interview questions and even getting in front of the camera! 

We also believe that new technologies have a large role to play in engaging new audiences with heritage and the environment, so will be introducing some through Artcodes Along the Nene. Our creative digital engagement experts at the Mixed Reality Lab (University of Nottingham) will be working with us, local history experts and our partner organisations to bring hidden heritage to life through a free artcodes app which allows images to be scanned with a smartphone or tablet and linked to online content. It works in a similar way to a QR code, but anyone can draw the scannable image.

Within the Ice Age to Digital Age project, there will also be exciting trails, events and much more to see and do. We're also looking to run creative workshops using John Clare as inspiration through Extracts of a Changing Landscape and launch Nenescape with a mass orchestral and choir performance of a specially-written musical composition called Nene in the Royal Albert Hall, led by Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust and forming part of the Music for Youth proms. Find out more here.

For more information on 'Ice Age to Digital Age' please contact