For Recreation.


The Middle Level rivers provide some of the best coarse fishing in the country and are regularly used for various National Championships.

The Commissioners issue Notes providing further details of the fishing facilities.

Of the major watercourses of the Middle Level, some, such as the Old Nene, are regarded as riparian owned and the fishing rights will normally be vested in the relevant land owners.

Others are owned by the Middle Level Commissioners and details of our current fishing tenants are set out below.   In addition there is free public fishing adjacent to March Town Bridge.

We work in partnership with the Environment Agency’s Great Ouse & Fenland Fisheries Team who have an active Facebook group.

Click here to read the latest Middle Level Main Drain fisheries report.


Swimming in rivers, or wild swimming, is becoming more and more popular. This is an activity controlled by our byelaws. Currently we are not requiring swimmers to contact us before entering the water but the Middle Level Commissioners reserve the right to remove consent for swimming on any or all lengths of Middle Level Waters at any time.

Swimming is neither encouraged or discouraged within Middle Level waters and anyone who does so is swimming at their own risk. Below is some advice provided which may be of assistance to those who choose to swim.

  • 100 miles of the Middle Level system is navigable so expect to see power craft almost wherever you go, the busiest sections and therefore the ones ideally avoided are on the link route between Stanground and Salters Lode – see red route on the plan.
  • If you are entering water from private land you should first seek the land owner’s permission.
  • Boaters are unlikely to be expecting to see swimmers so keep to the edge and stay clear of boats when they pass.
  • The system is fished and you should be aware that fishermen and their equipment may be present.
  • You should make yourself as visible as possible, use a tethered buoy and bright swimming cap at all times.
  • Don’t swim alone if possible, as having another person with you will help if you find yourself in trouble.
  • There are around 80 pumping stations (which are unattended and automated), together with inlets, outlets, weirs and other structures. Steer well clear of these as there may be currents, some hidden to the eye (undercurrents). The locations of pumping stations can be found on the plan below.
  • You should be aware that there may be submerged obstacles not visible, these can be but are not limited to, eel traps and fly tipped rubbish.
  • Reed fringes and other flora and forma can be a vibrant habitat for water voles, otters, nesting birds and other creatures. It is illegal to disturb nesting birds or the homes of water voles, please take care and look after your environment. It is especially important to take away anything you have brought with you, please don’t leave litter.
  • Plan your entry and exit route before entering the water. Be aware that the banks of our water can be high and relatively steep and on occasion slippery.
  • Jumping or diving from any lock, bridge, or other structure not specifically designed for swimming is dangerous and strictly prohibited.


Our Navigation Advisory Committee have decided we should charge for use of unpowered vessels on our navigation.

photo by @indcind

We are in partnership with Paddle UK and included in their waterways licence scheme. Therefore, if you hold a waterways licence with Paddle UK you are able to canoe, kayak or paddleboard on our navigable waterways. We encourage paddlers to purchase a licence from Paddle UK as they also offer a family and couples option, and their licence comes with public liability insurance, access to safety information and other offers.

To purchase a Paddle UK waterways licence please use this link. This licence gives you access to over 4,500km of waterways. We also have a dedicated page on Paddle UK GoPaddling website.

The nominal income we receive from this partnership will be ringfenced for investment into improved portage. We are keen to work with local clubs, groups, trusts, charities and parish councils to invest wisely and in partnership to make improvements.

The Canoe Foundation regularly have funding opportunities and we would welcome local users developing suitable bids. Our consent may be needed for any structural work proposed, so please get in touch with us early within any plans.

For unpowered vessels not covered within Paddle UK’s licence, such as row boats, dinghy and pedalos, you will require an annual licence from us – available here.

Happy paddling!


Many Middle Level waterways have public footpaths along the banks, which are relics of old towpaths.

The Hereward Way long distance footpath also crosses the area. Some public cycleways run across or alongside Middle Level property.

The Fen Edge trails are a great way to explore the edges of the Fens, including parts of the Middle Level

Fenland District Council have also published a set of walking and cycling guides available here.