The Wash

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The Wash is the square-mouthed bay and estuary on the northwest margin of East Anglia on the east coast of England, where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire. It is among the largest estuaries in the United Kingdom. It is fed by the Rivers Witham, Welland, Nene and Great Ouse.

Contents

Geography

The Wash shows as a large indentation in the coastline of the map of Eastern England, separating the curved coast of East Anglia from Lincolnshire. It is formed by a large bay with three roughly straight sides meeting at right angles, each about 15 miles (25 km) in length. The eastern coast of the Wash is entirely within Norfolk, and extends from Hunstanton in the north to the mouth of the River Great Ouse at King's Lynn in the south. The opposing coast, which is roughly parallel to the east coast, runs from Gibraltar Point to the mouth of the River Welland, all within Lincolnshire. The southern coast runs roughly northwest-southeast, connects these two river mouths and is punctuated by the mouth of a third river, the River Nene.

Inland from the Wash the land is flat, low-lying and often marshy: these are the Fens of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

Owing to deposits of sediment and land reclamation, the coastline of the Wash has altered markedly within historical times; several towns once on the coast of the Wash (notably King's Lynn) are now some distance inland. Much of the Wash itself is very shallow, with several large sandbanks—such as Breast Sand, Bulldog Sand, Roger Sand and Old South Sand—exposed at low tide, especially along its south coast. For this reason, navigation in the Wash can be hazardous for boats. A lightship marks the entrance to the Lynn Channel, the one safe channel from the North Sea to the Wash's south coast.

Water temperature

The Wash varies enormously in water temperature throughout the year. Winter temperatures are brought near freezing from the cold North Sea flows. Summer water temperatures can reach into the low 20s degrees C (about 70 degrees F) after prolonged high ambient air temperature and sun. This effect, which typically happens in the shallow areas around beaches, and often only in pockets of water, is exaggerated by the large sheltered tidal reach.

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