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A scoutmaster

25 August 2018: Heybridge BasinA canal scene with a narrow boat in the foreground

Start point grid reference: TL 870 069GPX file

The Heybridge Basin circuit is a favourite with our rambling group. The path is level without any styles and the views are great. You wouldn’t want to do it in the wind and rain, though, as it is very exposed.

This morning thirteen of us (plus a Boxer) set out from the Daisy Meadow car park. We took the short flight of steps from there up to the towpath of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. (Since this is a river that was converted in the 18th century as a navigable waterways link between Chelmsford and the sea at Maldon it is technically a navigation rather than a canal.) There is a kiosk near the top of the steps where you can buy snacks and soft drinks but we all had drinks etc with us.

We turned right to walk along the towpath. The navigation was mainly covered by duckweed, which we took as a sign that there had been little water traffic recently despite the large number of boats moored along the bank. There were ripe sloes and blackberries growing on the right of the towpath. Some of our number grabbed a few blackberries in passing.

Some way on there is a footbridge over the navigation leading to an attractive housing estate. We continued on our side of the navigation, passing a cemetery on our right before reaching some industrial buildings and going under the bridge which takes the towpath under the B1072.

The navigation then curves round to go under Holloway Road. At the other side of this we took the steps up to the road and walked south-east to The Causeway. Here we turned right and eventually crossed the road towards Bates Road. We had to take care because of the heavy traffic.

Bates Road goes through an industrial area but, being a Saturday, it was fairly quiet. A little way along we took a road to the left and found another footpath running more-or-less parallel to the River Blackwater. We stopped for a coffee break where the path meets the estuary. There are the wrecks of some abandoned wooden boats here.

After the break we continued along the footpath, which goes along a high bank past the housing estate we had seen earlier and then continues with the river on one side and a large lake on the other. Since the dog we had with us spent some time lapping up the lake water very happily I assume the lake is fresh water. There was a small flock of geese on one of the islands on the lake. We were able to watch the river traffic on our right, including a Thames sailing barge.

When it reaches the end of the lake the footpath turns north towards Heybridge. Back at Heybridge Basin we crossed the navigation via one of the lock gates, which is perfectly safe as it has railings. Then all of us (apart from the dog) dropped into The Old Ship for lunch before making our way back to the cars.