Northamptonshire (abbreviated Northants or N'hants) is a landlocked county in central England with a population of 629,676 (2001 census). It has borders with Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire (including the Borough of Milton Keynes), Oxfordshire, and Lincolnshire (England's shortest county boundary: 19 metres). The county town is Northampton.
Northamptonshire has often been called the county of "squires and spires" due to its wide variety of historic buildings and country houses. The county has also been described as "England's Pancreas", most notably by the popular presenter Alan Titchmarsh in has 2007 series The Nature of Britain. This is due to its shape and location within the UK, and because it is regularly overlooked, especially compared to neighbouring Warwickshire, known as "The Heart of England".
Northamptonshire's county flower is the Cowslip.
By the standards of the English Midlands, Northamptonshire is an upland county. It includes the watershed between the Severn and The Wash. Several important rivers have their sources in the north west of the county, these include the River Nene (to The Wash) and the "Warwickshire Avon" (to the Severn). In the 1820s it was boasted that "not a single brook, however insignificant, flows into it from any other district". The highest point in the county is nevertheless the modest Arbury Hill at 225 m (738 ft).
Northampton is the largest town in the county, with a population of 194,122. This is followed by Kettering (51,063), Corby (49,222), Wellingborough (46,959 ), Rushden (25,849) and Daventry (22,367). Most of the county's population is concentrated in a central north–south band which includes the four largest towns (corresponding to districts 2, 4, 5 & 6 on the map). The west (districts 1 & 3) and east (district 7) are predominantly rural with small towns and many villages. Northamptonshire is a long, thin county (more so with the Soke of Peterborough), running from south-west to north-east.
Two major canals – the Oxford and the Grand Union – join in the county at Braunston. Notable features include a flight of 17 locks on the Grand Union at Rothersthorpe, the canal museum at Stoke Bruerne, and a tunnel at Blisworth which, at 3076 yards (2813 m), is the third-longest navigable canal tunnel on the UK canal network.
A branch of the Grand Union Canal connects to the River Nene in Northampton and has been upgraded to a "wide canal" in places and is known as the Nene Navigation. It is famous for its guillotine locks.
Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/
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