Meandering for 14 miles, and climbing 77′ via 11 locks through the unexpectedly green and tranquil heart of Essex is a unique and pastoral waterway, the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. Part river, part canal, it was engineered by the great John Rennie and is still operated by its original Company of Proprietors. The Navigation is accessible by boat – bring your own, hire a dinghy or day boat, or take a cruise – or explore on foot along the towpath.
From salty Heybridge Basin with its sea lock and lock side pub, The Old Ship Inn, just one short industrial section interrupts the five miles of woods and water meadows which lead via three locks to Hoe Mill’s peaceful moorings. The tiny waterside church, remote on the edge of Ulting, heralds the lush surrounding of Rush’s Lock before reaching the Canal Centre at Paper Mill, with its Old Stables Tea Room, river trips and boat hire, midway along the navigation.
Danbury Hill is above us now, to be skirted through four willow-lined miles to sleepy Sandford, with more moorings on the edge of Chelmsford. Locking up past beautiful Barnes Mill before winding through Baddow Meads brings the Navigation to its Chelmsford terminus in once-bustling Springfield Basin, which is being brought back to life with it new marina, office barges and waterside restaurant.
There is so much to do on this attractive and historic waterway.
Once a thriving artery for trade, the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation is now conserved for wildlife and recreational activities such as boating, barge trips, canoeing, fishing, walking and general relaxation and a place to bring the family.