The Wash, Lincolnshire | Norfolk

The Wash
The Wash is situated where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire along the North Sea coast. It is a square-shaped estuary, among the largest in the United Kingdom. It is fed by the Rivers Witham, Welland, Nene and Great Ouse .

The Wash is formed by a large bay with three sides meeting at right angles, each bank is about 15 miles in length. The coast of the Wash that lies to the south east is entirely within Norfolk. This section runs from Hunstanton in the north to the mouth of the River Great Ouse at Kings Lynn in the south. The opposite coast, which lies almost parallel, stretches from Gibraltar Point to the mouth of the River Welland. This section is all within Lincolnshire. The middle bank is situated in a line drawn south east to north west, starting from the mouth of the Great Ouse and going up as far as the entrance to the Wellend. The coast here is also punctuated by the mouth of a third river, the River Nene.

Inland from the Wash the land is flat, low-lying, and often marshy. This area is the Fens of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. The Fens are a large area of drained salt marsh, now a rich fertile home to the extensive arable farms that produce such a rich harvest of grains and vegetables.

The Wash is extremely valuable as a natural habitat for a wide range of wildlife. It is a Special Protection Area (SPA) under European Union legislation. It is made up of an extensive range of salt marshes, large tidal banks of sand and mud, and both shallow waters and deep channels.

The importance of natural habitats forming part of flood defences on the Wash has now been recognised. Projects such as the Boston Washbanks are examples of man working with nature for mutual benefit. The scheme aims to improve flood defences and allow the return of 78 hectares of farmland to salt marsh. Over 150 bird species are recorded at the Boston Washbanks each year. In the summer visitors are treated to the sight of breeding birds such as redshanks, avocets and ringed plovers. In winter it is geese, short-eared owls and hen harriers that are out and about. At high tide, flocks of birds use the protection of the salt marsh to roost until they can return to their low tide feeding grounds on the Wash. The site also sustains many diverse salt marsh plants including several species under threat nationally.

Skegness , the popular North Sea resort, sits on the northern end of the Wash. The port of Boston is another of the Lincolnshire towns on the Wash. The Boston Stump , a Lincolnshire landmark, is a church with one of the highest towers in England. The spire that can sometimes be seen from the Norfolk side of the Wash. Spalding is a few miles up the River Wellend and Wisbech is inland along the Nene. Kings Lynn, Norfolk's third largest settlement, is another Wash port. Sometimes known as Lynn Regis or Bishop's Lynn, it sits on the east bank of the Great Ouse close to where it enters the Wash. Hunstanton sits on the southern bank of the Wash, across the bay from Skegness.

More British Natural features?

Other Lincolnshire Naturals

The Fens
Humber Estuary
Lincolnshire Wolds
Vale of Belvoir

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