Paper Mill Lock, River Chelmer
If a sea breeze or the ambient wind mean the coast is too windy or choppy for paddling in safety and comfort, it’s time to head inland. Wet’n’Dry SUP’s favourite freshwater paddleboard launch is at Paper Mill Lock on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, south-east of Chelmsford. Trees and the surrounding countryside ensure the water stays flat and provide good shelter from the wind.
Tides: None – and as the river is governed by locks, there’s barely any current either! (Just a very gentle flow from west to east.) Rainfall, drought and canal maintenance can effect the water level though.
Wind: Paper Mill Lock is far enough inland to escape the sea breeze on a hot, sunny day. Pressure-driven winds will usually be significantly lower than at the coast too. And thanks to the riverbanks and surrounding countryside, even if there is wind the water stays flat. Strong paddlers should be fine in pretty much any wind conditions – as ever, just be sure to paddle upwind first so the return journey is the easier ride!
Facilities: There is free roadside parking by the bridge, and a large tea room car-park open during the day (in which you’ll be welcome as long as you buy something to eat / drink from the café). Licences are required to launch on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation – Wet’n’Dry SUP are licensed for our school / hire fleet of boards. Annual licences (£31 per year) are now available to buy online via www.waterways.org.uk/shop/product_details?id=2038 … or you can purchase (cash or cheque) from the Resident Caretakers – Sam (large blue boat on towpath) or Sue (green boat behind island offices) at Paper Mill, June or Ian at Hoe Mill.
Location: Just north of Little Baddow off the A12 – and best found with the aid of a sat-nav! Nearest postcode CM3 4BS.