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Canoeing & 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).

Perfect for Paddling

Canoeists and paddleboarders can drop in at any point along the Chelmer & Blackwater navigation, except next to locks and bridges. Licences for the Navigation need to be obtained from Essex Waterways. 

Licences cost £5 for a single day, and there are generous discounts for weekly, monthly and annual periods, and further discounts for multiple non powered craft registering together.  

You can now hire a Canadian Canoe or a single or double kayak, from our office at Paper Mill, and (coming soon) from Daisy Meadow kiosk at Heybridge Basin.

Information for paddlers

Do I need a Licence?

Yes, you will need an Essex Waterways Canoe Licence. Day, week, month 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.

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 – £35
  • One Week – £14
  • One Day – £5
  • Group Discounts: 5+ craft: 10%
How can I hire a canoe?

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

Prices, per session:

  • 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, except at Hoe Mill and Rickett’s locks, which are particularly sensitive fishing areas. 

Canoes and paddleboards must not pass through locks. 

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 ( or 01245 226245).