Walkers will find the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation towpath easy to follow throughout the length of the Navigation, and obvious where it changes from one bank to the other. It can become muddy in wet weather. Many other rights-of-way link with the towpath, giving endless opportunities for round walks of any length.
Essex Waterways tries to keep the towpath clear and the full length is mown at least four times every year. There also occasional workparties to clear back encroaching scrub and vegetation, especially between the towpath and the navigation channel. Historically, this bank was always kept clear to avoid snagging the towline between a vessel and the horse towing it.
Unfortunately, it is a fact that clearing vegetation in an area will appear brutal for a short period after work is complete. What may appear harsh immediately after cutting and clearance will soon grow back - have a look at the same site again in a few months time to see how quickly it reverts back! The best managed wildlife meadows are mown twice a year to allow fresh growth to emerge and avoid eventual dominance by the strongest species. Likewise with occasional clearance along the banks of the Navigation, clearance of dominant species from time to time can improve the diversity of plants and improve the habitat – not withstanding that on those occasions when clearance does take place it can appear rather devastating at first glance for a short period.
More about walks around the waterway: