WELCOME TO HEYBRIDGE BASIN

Heybridge Basin is popular with both locals and visitors alike, and is an excellent place to enjoy a leisurely day with family and friends. It is located where the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation canal meets the River Blackwater. The original village centred around the construction of the canal, and the cottages next to the lock were built for the canal workers in the late 18th century.

HISTORY OF HEYBRIDGE BASIN

Heybridge Basin derived its name from nearby Heybridge and the Canal Basin which is located at its centre. The village of Heybridge was mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 and was named Tidwalditun. Heybridge Basin owes its existence to the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation and was initially developed as a working village to house the canal’s workers. Prior to the construction of the canal, there were no buildings and the area was common land and marshland known as Collier’s Reach and Borough Marsh.

THE CHELMER & BLACKWATER NAVIGATION

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

HISTORY

The Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation is the shallowest navigation in the country and was completed in 1797. Taking four years to build, the canal was of significant importance to the development of Chelmsford as an industrial town, and its original purpose was to carry goods and cargo from the River Blackwater all the way to Chelmsford, thirteen and a half miles away.

USES TODAY

Commercial barge traffic ceased in 1972, and the canal is now used for leisure purposes such as fishing, pleasure boats, canoeing, paddle boarding, narrowboats and walking along the towpath. For over 200 years, the canal was owned by the original firm of proprietors, but in 2005, the management was taken over by Essex Waterways Ltd.

CHELMER CANAL TRUST

The Chelmer Canal Trust Limited is a registered charity, and voluntary group whose main focus is preserving access to the waterway for public enjoyment and appreciation.
Exploring the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

MAIN WALKING ROUTES

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation
Beeleigh Steam Mill

UP THE CHELMER & BLACKWATER NAVIGATION TO BEELEIGH FALLS RETURNING VIA MALDON ALONG THE RIVER BLACKWATER (7.25 MILES)

Follow the Red path and head up the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation for two miles. You will pass Bentalls Warehouse and other typical canalside buildings, and you will then pass underneath the Wave Bridge. As the canal bears left, you will walk underneath two more bridges, and then you'll pass the Oak Tree Meadow play area, and on your left is Tesco.

The canal path will bear to the right, and goes underneath the A414 road bridge, after 300 yards head onto the yellow-brick bridge to cross over the canal. With the Maldon Golf Club to your left and Elms Farm Park on your right, continue for half a mile and you will reach Beeleigh Falls, where the canal meets the River Chelmer. Bear left to cross the wooden foot bridge. At this point, you will leave the canal path which continues the whole way to Chelmsford. Turn left just before the lock, passing through a small wooded area and cross another bridge to reach Beeleigh Steam Mill.

Continue along Abbey Turning and turn left down Beeleigh Chase, Beeleigh Abbey is to your left. Follow the path and the canopied green lane and turn left at the T-junction. It will take you under the busy A414 close to the River Chelmer, so that you can avoid the traffic. Continue right along the path and head uphill, passing the Leech Memorial Garden and after 50 yards, follow the path until you reach the tarmacked part of Beeleigh Road.

Continue onto Silver Street, passing the Blue Boar to reach the High Street. Turn left and continue along the High Street, passing the roundabout, a set of traffic lights, and continue onto Mill Road. You'll see Maldon Museum to your left, and the entrance to the Promenade Park. From here, you can circle the park or press on towards Northey Island. On the way back, you will stick close to the river along Downs Road, crossing at Fullbridge and taking Bates Road to rejoin the sea wall which returns to Heybridge Basin.

POINTS OF INTEREST

Beeleigh Water and Steam Mill
The water mill was owned by Beeleigh Abbey from 1189 to 1536. It was later bought by the Navigation Company during the construction of the canal. Changing ownership once again, the watermill was rebuilt and became one of the largest corn mills in Essex. In 1845, the steam mill was built to supplement the water mill, but was abandoned thirty years later when the mill was devastated by a fire.

Beeleigh Abbey

Founded in 1180, the monastery was constructed for the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré. The heart of Saint Roger Niger of Beeleigh was buried at the abbey. It later became a pilgrimage site and was visited in 1289 by King Edward I and Queen Eleanor. The abbey itself is now a private residence, but its gardens are open for a few days every year during the summer.

Promenade Park
The park was opened in 1895 and provided the town with a valuable amenity. Known locally as the Prom, there are lots of attractions for you to enjoy, including the Museum in the Park, which offers a charming perspective of the town’s history. You can also visit the statue of Byrhtnoth at the end of the promenade, whose army was defeated at the Battle of Maldon 991.

EAST FROM HEYBRIDGE BASIN ALONG THE SEA WALL TO GOLDHANGER AND RETURNING THROUGH CHIGBOROUGH LAKES (7.5 MILES)

From Daisy Meadows Car Park, follow the canal to the left for about 250 yards to the sea lock. Follow the Orange path and turn left to follow the sea wall as it skirts along the Blackwater Estuary. You’ll remain on the wall for 4.3 miles, passing the Blackwater Sailing Club, the Mill Beach pub, and Osea Leisure Park.

You will then pass the tidal causeway of Osea Island and from this point, there is nothing but farm land to the left and the River Blackwater to the right. Eventually you’ll reach Goldhanger, and you will see its small sailing club to the left and the church in the distance. Passing the sailing club, you will come to the head of Goldhanger Creek, turn left off the sea wall and pass through the playing field and onto Fish Street.

Turn right when you reach Fish Street and pass its numerous cottages before reaching the Chequers pub which is on the right. Proceed left along Head Street for 1/3 mile and when you reach Maldon Road, cross over to reach the path on the other side. Follow this path which runs along the edge of a large field, houses will be on your right. When you reach Blind Lane, continue for 220 yards before turning left and crossing the small footbridge. Continue through the fields for nearly half a mile and then head over the footbridge to reach Wash Lane.

Turn left and continue along the lane for 400 yards, bearing left round the bend and passing the houses. At the end of the houses, turn right onto a grassy track and continue for 1/3 mile, passing a large meadow and lake to your left. You will walk through Rook Hall Farmyard and turn left to follow gravel track until you reach Chigborough Road. Turn left and continue for 250 yards where you will pass 'The Barn' at Chigborough, which consists of a tea room, smokehouse, delicatessen and gift shop.

Continue past the barn and follow the bend round to reach a fisherman's hut and barrier at the entrance to Chigborough Lakes. Heading past Home Water and May Water, go through the car park to reach Goldhanger Road. Please take care as this road is very busy. Turn left and continue along the road for nearly 400 yards and you can then return to the sea wall via the Mill Beach pub.

POINTS OF INTEREST

Osea Island
The mile long causeway of Osea Island was built by the Romans and the island itself was an important strategic stronghold. Over the centuries, Osea Island has had numerous owners, including the nephew of William the Conquerer and Frederick Charrington. During WWI, the island was taken over by the navy as HMS Osea and became an extensive naval base. In 2010, the causeway was used as a filming location for ‘The Woman in Black’ starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Goldhanger

Goldhanger was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 and its name means 'grassland where marigold grows.' The village was a well-used smugglers' haunt and goods such as gin, brandy, tea and silks were hidden in the outside cellar at the Chequers Inn. Goods were also taken on rafts down the River Blackwater to wash up at Mill Beach for collection when the coast was clear.

Chigborough Lakes
The Essex Wildlife Trust has a 46 acre reserve at the northern part of the lakes, and over 120 species of bird have been recorded there, including Great Crested, Little Grebes, Little Egret, Grey Heron and Kingfisher. The reserve is home to a variety of interesting flowers, numerous trees of note and a number of Grass Snakes. Signs of Otters have recently been found as well.
Exploring the Saltmarsh Coast
Chigborough Lakes
Exploring the Saltmarsh Coast
The Statue of Bryhtnoth overlooking Northey Island

WEST ALONG THE RIVER BLACKWATER TO MALDON AND NORTHEY ISLAND (ACCESS BY PRIOR ARRANGEMENT WITH THE NATIONAL TRUST) (4 MILES EACH WAY)

This walk takes you west along the river to Maldon. Start by following the Red path east towards the sea lock. Turn right at the lock to cross the canal and join the sea wall. Follow the wall until a path appears to the left, follow this to join Bates Road and left again to walk along the Causeway. Pass over the Fullbridge and turn left. The path stays close to the river all the way to Promenade Park or turn right once you enter Downs Road and follow the Green path up a short but very steep hill to head towards the High Street.

Heading through Butt Lane Car Park and Wenlock Way, the Maldon District Tourist Information Centre is on your left, make sure you pop in to say hello, and you can continue onto the High Street. Maldon High Street is well worth exploring with its unique shops and rich heritage. To continue the walk, turn left out of Wenlock Way and downhill towards the river. Turn left down Church Street and you'll see a church ahead, you may glimpse the river and the famous Thames Sailing Barges along the Hythe Quay, but don't worry, you'll be coming back that way. 

Pass through the ground of Saint Mary the Virgin Church and head into Prom Park. The park has lots to do and you can enjoy a full day here, but press on eastwards to discover a quieter path back to the sea wall towards Northey Island, with views of Heybridge Basin. A circular path returns you to the Prom.

This time leave via the Hythe Quay by heading along the sea wall and passing the Steam Tug Brent and the Thames Sailing Barges. Head along Downs Road and you'll pass a small green area on your right with views of the River Chelmer. You can then pick up the Red path to return back to Heybridge Basin.

POINTS OF INTEREST

Hythe Quay
This historic working waterfront is home to the largest collection of active Thames Sailing Barges. Some of these barges are owned by Topsail Charters, and others are owned by the Thames Sailing Barge Trust, both run a variety of trips throughout the year. You can also take a cruise aboard the Viking Saga pleasure boat from the quay during the summer months.

Statue of Byrhtnoth
Byrhtnoth was the Ealdorman of Essex and was defeated at the Battle of Maldon in 991. The statue overlooks Northey Island and the causeway of this island was the site of the battle. This is the oldest recorded battlefield site in England, and the events of the battle are described in an epic poem, which is regarded as one of the finest examples of Old English literature.

Northey Island
The island is owned by the National Trust and is an internationally important haven for birds. During the winter, it is home to five thousand Brent Geese, as well as Redshank and Plover. The causeway is submerged for around five hours at every tide, but can be crossed at low tide by visitors. Northey Island is accessible by permit only and can be visited by arrangement with the warden.

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

The Lock Tearoom

The Lock Tea Room

Bright and airy, "the lock" is THE place to eat on the waterfront at Heybridge Basin. Indoors or out, it offers outstanding Blackwater estuary views.

The Old Ship

The Old Ship

The Old Ship Public House is conveniently located at the end of the thirteen mile Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Canal.

WHERE TO STAY

Osea Leisure Park

Osea Leisure Park

A quiet, family owned and run park nestling on the banks of the Blackwater Estuary, offering camping, glamping and holiday home ownership.

Holiday Park with 49 units, £15-£80 pupn sleeps 1-8

Le Bouchon Hotel & Brasserie

Le Bouchon Hotel & Brasserie

A grade II listed, 300 year old Georgian building in the small village of Heybridge, close to Maldon.

Hotel with 14 rooms

Chigborough Campsite

Chigborough Campsite

Touring and camping area a short walk from the sea, nestled in unspoilt countryside with fishing lakes and many facilities.

Touring & Camping Park with 15 pitches, £20-£25 ptpn

ON THE WATER

Whether you'd like to take a pleasant boat trip along the canal, take a stroll along the sea wall or enjoy some refreshments overlooking the Blackwater Estuary, Heybridge Basin is an excellent destination for those looking to enjoy the water.

The canal is popular with youth groups, canoe clubs and Frangipani Stand Up Paddle. You can also hire a row boat with Basin Pleasure Boats if you'd like to explore the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation at your own pace.

Topsail Charters Ltd

Topsail Charters

Historic sailing barges ‘Hydrogen’ and ‘Thistle’ are available for regular public cruises and also for private hire for groups up to 50 from a variety of East Coast locations including Maldon and Ipswich.

Frangipani SUP Limited

Frangipani SUP

Frangipani SUP is a friendly, family run Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board school based in Essex. We operate in various locations in the Maldon and Chelmsford area.

The Viking Saga Boat Trips

The Viking Saga Boat Trips

The Viking Saga, listed on the UK National Historic Ships Register, was built locally in 1947. After a complete restoration she is now used for public cruises from Maldon and neighbouring ports.

BOATS & FISHING

Exploring the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

Visiting boats are always welcome to Heybridge Basin and booking is advisable during the busy summer period, especially at weekends. Moorings are located at Heybridge Basin, Hoe Mill, Paper Mill and Sandford. All boats must be licensed by Essex Waterways Ltd. and unless exempt, must be covered by at least third party insurance and a valid Boat Safety Certificate.

For more information, visit the Essex Waterways Ltd website.

Fishing is popular along the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, and species that have been found include carp, pike, roach, bream, barbel, dace, tench, perch and chub. Fishing rights are leased to and managed by Maldon Angling Society, in conjunction with Chelmsford Angling Association. Day tickets are available for non-members from bailiffs on the bank or from local tackle shops.

For more information, visit the Maldon Angling Society website.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Northey Island

Small Island in the Blackwater Estuary with a large area of undisturbed salt marsh. Site of special scientific interest. Site of the Battle of the Maldon in AD991. Guided tours by prior arrangement.

 
 
 
Goldhanger

There are some beautiful walks around Goldhanger and we are fortunate to have miles of sea wall stretching along the Blackwater Estuary as far as Maldon on one side and Tollesbury and beyond on the other.

 
 
 
Osea Island Resort

This beautiful historic island, accessible by car only during low tide, is open as a holiday destination. Just 45 miles from central London at the base of the Thames Estuary.

 
 
Enjoy beautiful views of Heybridge Basin

Along the coastline of the Maldon District, five Saltmarsh Coast Hubs are being installed as part of Maldon District Council's Dengie Gateway Project. Aside from Heybridge Basin, they are located in:

These inspirational visitor information points make the perfect starting point for your journey and provide you with engaging facts and details about this fascinating part of Essex's Discovery Coast.

Saltmarsh Coast Trail
Additionally, audio posts, signage and waymarking will continue to be installed. This work has been undertaken as part of the Maldon District Council’s Dengie Gateway Project funded by the Coastal Community’s Fund.

These inspirational visitor information points make the perfect starting point for your journey and provide you with engaging facts and details about this fascinating part of Essex's Discovery Coast.

Additionally, audio posts, signage and waymarking has also been installed. This work has been undertaken as part of the Maldon District Council’s Dengie Gateway Project funded by the Coastal Community’s Fund.

Saltmarsh Coast Trail
Keep up-to-date with what's going on in the Maldon District and at the Maldon and Burnham-on-Crouch Tourist Information Centres by signing up to our events list. You can stay informed about our latest news and projects, as well as the current tickets we are selling at our box office. There is a Weekly Events List and a Monthly Events List for you to choose from.

CONNECT WITH US

Maldon District Tourist Information Centre

Specially trained staff at the Maldon District Tourist Information Centre and the Burnham-on-Crouch Tourist Information Centre are on hand to offer expert and friendly advice to help you make the most of your visit. Situated in the centres of Maldon and Burnham-on-Crouch, the two TICs offer a selection of free guides and brochures to help you understand and appreciate this unique area.