OUSE, the name of several English rivers.
(r) The Great Ouse rises in Northamptonshire, in the slight hills between Banbury and Brackley, and falls only about 500 ft. in a course of 160 m. (excluding lesser windings) to its mouth in the Wash (North Sea). With an easterly direction it flows past Brackley and Buckingham and then turns N.E. to Stony Stratford, where the Roman Watling Street forded it. It receives the Tove from the N.W., and the Ouzel from the S. at Newport Pagnell. It then follows an extremely sinuous course past Olney to Sharnbrook, where it turns abruptly S. to Bedford. A north-easterly direction is then resumed past St Neot's to Godmanchester and Huntingdon, when the river trends easterly to St Ives. Hitherto the Ouse has watered an open fertile valley, and there are many beautiful wooded reaches between Bedford and St Ives, while the river abounds in coarse fish. Below St Ives the river debouches suddenly upon the Fens; its fall from this point to the mouth, a distance of 55 m. by the old course, is little more than 20 ft. (the extensive system of artificial drainage cuts connected with the river is considered under Fens). From Earith to Denver the waters of the Ouse flow almost wholly in two straight artificial channels called the Bedford Rivers, only a small head passing, under ordinary conditions, along the old course, called the Old West River. This is joined by the Cam from the S. 4 m. above Ely. In its northward course from this point the river receives from the E. the Lark, the Little Ouse, or Brandon river, and the Wissey. Below Denver sluice, 16 m. from the mouth, the Ouse is tidal. It flows past King's Lynn, and enters the Wash near the S.E. corner. The river is locked up to Bedford, a distance of 742 m. by the direct course. In the lower part it bears a considerable traffic, but above St Ives it is little used, and above St Neot's navigation has ceased. The drainage area of the Great Ouse is 2607 sq. m.
(2) A river of Yorkshire. The river Ure, rising near the N.W. boundary of the county in the heart of the Pennines, and traversing the lovely valley famous under the name Wensleydale, unites with the river Swale to form the Ouse near the small town of Boroughbridge, which lies in the rich central plain of Yorkshire. The course of the Swale, which rises in the north of the county on the eastern flank of the Pennines, is mostly through this plain, and that of the Ouse is wholly so. It flows S.E. to York, thence for a short distance S. by W., then mainly S.E. again past Selby and Goole to the junction with the Trent; the great estuary so formed being known as the Humber. The course of the Ouse proper, thus defined, is 61 m. The Swale and Ure are each about 60 m. long. Goole is a large and growing port, and the river bears a considerable traffic up to York. There is also some traffic up to Boroughbridge, from which the Ure Navigation (partly a canal) continues up to Ripon. The Swale is not navigable. The chief tributaries are the Nidd, the Wharfe, the Don and the Aire from the W., and the Derwent from the N.E., but the detailed consideration of these involves that of the hydrography of the greater part of Yorkshire (q.v.). All, especially the western tributaries, traverse beautiful valleys, and the Aire and Don, with canals, are of importance as affording communications between the manufacturing district of south Yorkshire and the Humber ports. The Derwent is also navigable. The drainage area of the Ouse is 4133 sq. m. It is tidal up to Naburn locks, a distance of 37 m. from the junction with the Trent, and the total fall from Boroughbridge is about 40 ft.
(3) A river of Sussex, rising in the Forest Ridges between Horsham and Cuckfield, and draining an area of about 200 sq. m., mostly in the Weald. Like other streams of this locality, it breaches the South Downs, and reaches the English Channel at Newhaven after a course of 30 m. The eastward drift of beach-building material formerly diverted the mouth of this. river from its present place to a point to the east near Seaford. The Ouse is navigable for small vessels to Lewes, and Newhaven is an important harbour.
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