River Ouse, Sussex

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The River Ouse (pronounced /ˈuːz/) is a river in the counties of West and East Sussex in England.



The river rises near Lower Beeding and runs eastwards into East Sussex, meandering narrowly. It slowly turns southward. A lot of tributaries join it near the village of Isfield, and even more at Barcombe Mills, where it is used by Southern Water along with neighbouring Barcombe Reservoir, and there are many weirs and bridges. Just north of this, the Anchor Inn is on the banks of the river, and canoes can be hired from here. Continuing on from Barcombe, the Ouse really starts to meander (leaving several ox-bow lakes) as it reaches Hamsey, where the meander has been cut short by a canal creating Hamsey Island, home to St. Peter's Church, which is situated on a mount. Then the river flows through the town of Lewes, where it has been converted considerably over history. Three bridges cross it at Lewes: Willey's Bridge (a small footbridge opened in 1965), the Phoenix Causeway (a larger road bridge named after the extinct Phoenix Ironworks), and Cliffe Bridge (which is much older). After Cliffe the Winterbourne stream empties into the Ouse and the main river is banked on the west by the Heart of Reeds. The Ouse courses southeast past Glynde, where the tributary of Glynde Reach gushes into it; and then passes Rodmell , Southease (where there is a locally famous bridge) and Piddinghoe; finally reaching Newhaven, where it splits industrial Denton Island from the mainland and provides an important harbour, and then empties itself into the English Channel, surrounded on either side by two long breakwater piers.


'Ouse' is a very common name for rivers in England (e.g. the Ouse in Yorkshire), stemming from a Celtic word for water.[1]

The Sussex Ouse, on the other hand, derives its name from a back-formation of "La Rivière de Lewes".


The Ouse is one of the four rivers that cut through the South Downs. It is presumed that its valley was cut during a glacial period, since it forms the remnant of a much larger river system that once flowed onto the floor of what is now the English Channel. In the warmer interglacials the lower valley would have flooded; there are raised beaches 40 metres (Goodwood-Slindon) and 8 metres (Brighton-Norton) above present sea level. The offshore topography indicates that the current coastline was also the coastline before the final deglaciation, and therefore the mouth of the Ouse has long been at its present latitude.[2]

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