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Canoeing and Paddleboarding

The tranquil Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation is popular with paddlers who want to get afloat using a canoe or paddleboard. Licence fees apply to all non-powered craft including dinghies and inflatables.  If you don't have your own, you can hire a Canadian canoe or a kayak from us (lifejacket, oars, licence and third-party insurance all included) at Paper Mill Lock.

Please follow the Paddlers' Code - Check out

Canoeing & Paddleboarding


Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

Perfect for Paddling

Canoeists and paddleboarders can drop in at any point along the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, once you have purchased a licence

Licences cost £6 for a single day, and there are generous discounts for weekly (£16) and annual periods (£42).  

You can now hire a Canadian Canoe or a single or double kayak, from our office at Paper Mill.  Prices are £20 per hour (single kayak) and £25 per hour (double kayak or Canadian Canoe)

Please be considerate where you park your vehicle, and please take all litter home with you.

Information for paddlers

Do I need a Licence?

Yes, you will need an Essex Waterways Canoe Licence. Day, week and annual licences are available.

Although the Upper Chelmer is mentioned in British Canoeing’s guide, this does not include the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation.  

The easiest way is to buy your canoe licence online – see below

Licences can also be obtained from our Paper Mill office, Daisy Meadow kiosk or the lockkeeper at Heybridge Basin or from the River Warden.

These licence fees apply to all non-powered craft including all canoes, dinghies, inflatables and paddleboards.

  • Annual – £42 (business users £53)
  • One Week – £16 (click the one day ticket link, then scroll down for this option)
  • One Day – £6
  • Group Discounts: 5+ craft: 10% (only available from Paper Mill office)
How can I hire a canoe?

Canadian canoes and kayaks are available to hire from our Paper Mill office – 7 days per week.  Lifejackets, oars, third-party insurance and licence are all included in the price.

Prices, per hour:

  • Canadian Canoes (two people) : £25.00
  • Single Kayaks : £20.00
  • Double Kayaks : £25.00
Is anywhere off limits?

There is usually no objection to canoeists or paddleboarders using the backwaters, but please be considerate to anglers and keep away from moored boats.

Canoes and paddleboards must not pass through locks – there are landing stages above and below each lock, and we are building more, lower in the water especially for canoeists.

Beware of boats on the Navigation; they don’t have brakes, so may not be able to stop quickly to avoid you.  When meeting a boat coming the other way, always pass on the right hand side.  This may seem unnatural, as it is the opposite way round to passing an oncoming vehicle on the road – but this is the way that all boaters will expect you to pass on all UK inland waterways.

Weirs and weir streams are for experienced canoeists only, and need to be treated with care. 

Canoeists and paddle boarders should be aware of the increased risks during periods of high water levels, and should keep a look out for motorised vessels at all times.

Canoe and Dinghy Storage

There is canoe, kayak and dinghy storage available for an annual charge of £80.00

For enquiries about canoe and kayak storage please contact the Heybridge lockkeeper (for Heybridge Basin only) or the Paper Mill office ([email protected] or 01245 226245).

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