Bluebell Lakes, England, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - England - East of England -

Fishing is serious sport in Great Britain: Bluebell Lakes is one of the favored places to engage in this sport. With few natural lakes, the English countryside is home to prized small waterways brimming with fish. Historical estates often included a small pond dug into the marshy fen or captured from a dammed river, creek or canal. To provide access to the commoner, owners soon began to charge admission by the day or partial day for fishermen to come and engage in their favorite sport. Bluebell Lakes is one of these deliberately-created places. It has become known world-wide for its most famous residents: huge carp! The untimely death in 2009 of one such famous carp, the 64 pound Benson, caught the attention of newspapers and sport fishermen’s forums across the world. World media outlets such as the BBC reported that much of Britain was mourning the loss of their favorite fish.

Bluebell Lakes is a small fishing establishment located about 85 miles (135 kilometers) north of London on the Cambridgeshire / Northamptonshire border. Three small former gravel pits next to the River Nene were flooded to provide fishery habitat and stocked with a variety of game fish. All of the lakes together contain about 50 acres of water surface. All are relatively shallow, with 20 feet the maximum depth. The owners developed a stocking plan to maximize the size of the fish in each lake, with one particularly suited to large carp, another to pike. Originally begun in 1994, the largest lake was divided into two parts with the addition of a causeway. An additional, small half-acre pond was built to provide fishing for children, beginners, and those who want to see continuous bobber action. A two-mile section of the River Nene is also under the control of Bluebell Lakes and offers excellent fishing along the reedy banks, the locks, and the weirs. The combination of varied fishing habitat has made Bluebell Lakes one of Great Britain’s most famous fisheries.

Fishing at Bluebell Lakes is an experience anglers plan for over a period of weeks or months. Each lake is known for a specific type of fish, and each is considered either a beginner or an expert fishing experience. Admission is in the form of ‘tickets’ for a period of hours, for 24 hours or a continuous period of days. Although the facility is closed and the gates locked at night, an ‘overnight ticket’ can be purchased for night fishing. A complex set of regulations cover what fish may be kept from each lake, with active encouragement geared to removing smaller fish from the lake. Large fish must be returned to the water, usually after having their photograph taken with the proud angler. The protection of the large fish is both a matter of regulation and of zealous attention by anglers. The system apparently works well, as Benson (who by the way, was female) was caught and released at least 60 times since being stocked in 1994 or 1995. Fishing territory is staked out by a system of ‘pegs’ along the bank. Veteran anglers have their favorite pegs and try to arrive early to lay claim to them. Barbless hooks only are allowed, and bait choices are strictly limited.

Prized celebrity carp Benson lived in Kingfisher Lake. Kingfisher Lake sports many common and mirror carp weighing over 30 pounds. Swan Lake also supports extremely large carp, including another common carp called ‘The Creature’ that tops 60 pounds at last catch. Both lakes are limited to anglers over 16 years, and required equipment is necessary to safely land and release these monster relatives of the common goldfish. Bluebell and Sandmartin Lakes support general mixed fishing, and the small Wood Pool is stocked with carp to 6 pounds; tench, bream and Golden Orfe to 4 pounds; and roach and rudd to 1 pound along with crustaceans. New in 2008, Mallard Lake is being groomed to become another big carp lake and is already producing fish up to 25 pounds. Often overlooked is the Willow Creek backwater where old-fashioned reel and float fishing yields up the usual fish found in flowing water. Pike may be taken only in winter, and a regular fishing license is required at all times. Fishing derbies or matches are held here regularly.

Because Bluebell Lakes caters to fishermen, there is no provision for swimming or other types of water sports. A bait and tackle shop, restrooms, showers for long-visit fishermen, and a small cafe with limited hours are located on-site. Camping and vacation rentals are located in the surrounding area. Bed-and-breakfast facilities, housekeeping cottages, and quaint cottage lodgings are available in the many small towns with the customary local pub on a nearby corner for traditional foods and ale. It is possible to secure a vacation rental in a historic thatched-roof cottage or a centuries-old estate for a week or a month. The real estate market always shows a selection of properties for those who wish to purchase property nearby. The nearby villages of Oundle, Ashton, Warmington, Nassington, and Wansford are good places to start your search.

Just as exciting to the non-angler in the family are the historic surroundings. Only two miles away from Bluebell Lake, historic Fotheringhay is steeped with Royal connections. Little is left of the castle overlooking the River Nene that was the birthplace of Richard III and the execution place of Mary Queen of Scots. A mound marks the site where the original motte and bailey stood with a plaque commemorating the death of Mary. After her trial and execution in the Great Hall in 1587, the castle began to fall into disrepair. The large church with its beautiful tower still stands and is the resting place of some members of the House of York. Sadly, the famous stained glass windows are no more. Elton Hall near Peterborough is a 350 year old family estate completed in 1666 with tours available to view centuries-old artifacts and period dress. The Prebendal Manor, also near Peterborough, displays buildings from the early 13th century and a history of the site. Archeological digs on the grounds give evidence of habitation back to 850 AD.

The Nene Valley Railway is a preservation railway running along a 7.5-mile standard gauge line through the valley of the River Nene between Wansford and Peterborough, nine miles from Bluebell Lakes. Officially ending service in 1966, the preserved locomotives and station houses illustrate the many years the railway served the surrounding area. The Ferry Meadows Station sits at the entrance to Ferry Meadows Country Park, a recreational and natural area located within Nene Park. The two public park areas provide playgrounds, a lake, woods, walking and cycling paths. A collection of contemporary sculpture is located south of the rowing course in the Thorpe Meadow section of Nene Park. Also near Peterborough is the FlagFen Archeology Park. This museum and archeological dig combination has a reconstruction of a Bronze Age settlement, Iron Age Roundhouse, Roman herb garden and many excavations in progress, with interpretation.

A visit to Bluebell Lakes is practically required of any visitor to the Cambridgeshire / Northamptonshire border. The visitor can be both steeped in the history of the English kings and caught up in the excitement of the quest for ‘The Creature’ or one of his super-sized cohorts. It’s the best of both the old and the new. Find a vacation rental today and you can be on your way to carp paradise tomorrow. Come and pay your respects to Benson’s memory – and make memories of your own at Bluebell Lakes. Carpe Deum! Carpe Carp!

Things to do at Bluebell Lakes

  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Biking
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Bluebell Lakes

  • Carp
  • Pike
  • Roach
  • Tench

Bluebell Lakes Photo Gallery

    Bluebell Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Bluebell Lakes

    Surface Area: 50 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 59 feet

    Average Depth: 14 feet

    Completion Year: 1994

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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