Essex Waterways - Visitor Information

Operating Arrangement during the current Covid-19 Coronavirus situation

The Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation remains open and Essex Waterways has not imposed any additional restrictions beyond those put in place by Government.  However, our priority is to strictly follow Government advice to support the national effort to keep people safe and help fight the pandemic.  The Government's regulations are here.

Our Paper Mill office is manned from time to time, but Heybridge Basin office remains closed.  Staff are working from home when offices are closed and you will still be able to contact us by phone or email using the usual contact details.

Our trip boat operations are currently closed, other than charter trips for single-households.  We will re-open more fully when we consider it safe to do so, and in line with Government and NHS advice.  Our campsite at Hoe Mill reopened on 4th July.  The Daisy Meadow Kiosk at Heybridge Basin is open daily, Tuesdays to Sundays.

Our lengthsmen continue to work on your behalf to keep the Navigation and towpath open and our residential caretakers will continue to keep a check on boats.  If you visit the Navigation during the present situation, please be considerate to our staff by avoiding contact with them, and maintaining a minimum of two metres distance at all times (notwithstanding Government's lowering of the two metre requirement).

Information for Visitors

The Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation runs through a largely unspoilt part of rural Essex and connects the county town of Chelmsford with the tidal estuary of the river Blackwater at Heybridge Basin.

Find out more specific information about boating, canoeing, angling and walking along the Navigation.

Car Parking

There is a (currently free) car park at Heybridge Basin (Daisy Meadow) operated by Heybridge Basin Parish Council.  Parking on the quayside is for boat owners with permits only, and is regularly patrolled by a security company.

Following inconsiderate parking, the respective parish councils have recently (June 2020) arranged for double-yellow 'no parking' lines to be applied along the roads near Paper Mill, Little Baddow and Hoe Mill locks.  There remains some (free) parking in laybys but these spaces become full early each day.  There are secure car parks for boat owners only (key required) at Hoe Mill, Paper Mill and Sandford Mill.  There are 'pay and display' car parks (operated by Chelmsford City Council) within easy walking distance of Springfield Lock.  At Paper Mill, there is a commercial car park (adjacent to the tea room) owned and operated by a local farmer:

Open 10:00 to 17:30 (Saturday and Sunday, opens at 09.00)
Parking fee: £5 (free for disabled - £2.50 for entry after 3.30 p.m)
Seasonal opening, subject to ground conditions. 

Chelmer Cruises

Coronavirus Situation - August 2020:  Our small passenger boats Albert (based at Paper Mill) and Blackwater Dawn (based at heybridge Basin) are now available for skippered charter for family groups (maximum 12 passengers).  To discuss your requirements, please call Sarah Phillips on 01245 226 245 or email

Step on board Victoria and enjoy a cruise along the glorious Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. Victoria is perfect for weddings, parties and group outings.  The boat can accommodate up to 48 guests and includes a qualified skipper and crew. Find out more about Chelmer Cruises.


Find out more about visiting Heybridge Basin from tidal waters.

Or take a look at some information about the stretch of Navigation above Hall Bridge for inland cruising.