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The river rises in the Hothorpe Hills, at Sibbertoft in Northamptonshire, then flows generally northeast to Market Harborough, Stamford and Spalding, to reach The Wash near Fosdyke.
The Welland passes to the north of Corby near Rockingham, and then to the south of Caldecott, where it becomes the county border between Northamptonshire and Rutland, and the Eye Brook, which has been dammed to form the Eyebrook Reservoir, joins from the north.
Significant improvements were made to the river in the 1660s, when a new cut with 10 locks was constructed between Stamford and Market Deeping, and two locks were built on the river section below Market Deeping.
The canal section was known as the Stamford Canal, and was the longest canal with locks in Britain when it was built.
The River Welland is a lowland river in the east of England, some 65 miles (105 km) long.
It drains part of the Midlands eastwards to The Wash.
As it flows past Harringworth, the river forms two channels, with the county border following the smaller, northern channel.
It is crossed by the 1,275-yard (1,166 m) Welland Viaduct, with its 82 brick arches, which was completed in 1879, Uppingham Brook flows eastwards from Uppingham to join on the north bank, and the Jurassic Way long distance footpath crosses the river at Turtle Bridge.
The county border leaves the river on the west side of Market Harborough, as the town is wholly in Leicestershire, and picks it up again on the east side.
The River Jordan joins the Welland in the centre of Market Harborough, flowing northwards to the railway station.
The Environment Agency is the navigation authority for the river, which is navigable as far upstream as Crowland, and with very shallow draught to West Deeping Bridge, where further progress is hindered by the derelict lock around the weir.
The traditional head of navigation was Wharf Road in Stamford.
The river remains on the south side of the railway, while the county border follows a meandering course to the north of it, but rejoins the river near the Bringhurst to Cottingham road.