When you think stand up paddle boarding and kayaking, Essex and Suffolk wouldn’t be many paddlers first choice! Let’s be honest, paddle surfing in the Hawaiian islands or exploring a quaint Greek island is top of the pile in terms of places to paddle. However, this is the area we live and we certainly have some spots of hidden beauty!
In this blog, we’ll discuss our favourite two spots to paddle. Keep an eye and we’ll post more in the future about more great spots to paddle in our area!
Let’s begin with our favourite waterway…The River Stour
It’s got heaps of different paddles to explore, its flat calm water, stunning landscapes and calm, quiet setting make it a perfect place to have a mellow paddle, cover some distance or get some training in.
Where to Paddle?
1. The obvious paddle is downstream past the boathouse and towards Flatford. Its generally a cruisy paddle and a great place for all levels of paddlers. It’s about 1.5 miles down to Flatford Mill if you’re feeling like going a bit of distance. Just remember if you have a strong wind behind you on the way down you may have a struggle on the way back… however, in general the river is more sheltered option than the sea.
2. The second paddle is in the opposite direction. You will have to get out of the water on the opposite side of the mill pond and walk up along the footpath and relaunch 200m up. This paddle takes you past the Maison Talbooth.
Launch: There’s a very easy boardwalk launch point actually in the car park. It launches you straight in to the mill pond. As you enter the water, the depth is very shallow making it perfect for the family/beginners. The water is flat as a pancake and generally doesn’t have a strong current.
Things to beware of: 1. Maybe 100m to the left of where you enter the mill pond there is a lock – stay away from this area. 2. Rowing boats – on a busy day there can be a fair few on that stretch of river. If they’re heading for you or vice versa… speak to whoever’s in the boat and tell them the path you are taking… this simplifies the whole thing.
Parking: There’s usually enough space to park in the millpond car park. Free in the evenings or a cheap pay and display in the day.
Waterways License: There are many waterways in our area in which you do not need a license, however, if you’re paddling frequently we would suggest getting a license. See the link from British Canoeing. (https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/membership/why-join-british-canoeing/waterways-licence).
Next up… Mersea Island
There’s endless amounts of paddles around Mersea Island. The dynamic nature the estuary makes it very unique and ever changing from paddle to paddle. This is by far and away one of the most interesting spots to paddle in our area. The sheer amount of channels and creeks can make every paddle that little bit different from the last, making it the perfect place to explore on a paddle board or kayak.
Mersea Island Watersports are a dedicated watersports centre and specialise in teaching paddle boarding and kayaking! If you’re looking to take a lesson, explore the area with a locals that know the area like the back of their hand, or fine tune some paddling skills then they’re your guys!
Where to Paddle?
1. Looking out, paddle to the right down towards the Strood (the ‘bridge’ you travel across to get on to the island). This channel you paddle down is called Strood Channel. This paddle is around 1.5-2 miles to the Strood.
2. Looking out, paddle left around the Black Packing Shed Island. Both of these paddles take you through the moored boats, house boats and past the creeks that sit along the coastline making it a particularly unique paddle.
Key things to be aware of are the wind direction and state of the tide. Always into the strongest element whether it be wind or tide. Take in to account that these elements change and to be aware of the weather forecast and the state of the tide. It is worth clueing yourself up on this information, we will release a blog on this over the summer. However, nothing beats getting out on the water with someone that can explain all this whilst out there keeping you safe… this is where Mersea Island Watersports come in!
Launch: There’s a super easy boardwalk launch point from the jetty (Hammerhead) or from from ‘The Hard’ opposite the West Mersea Yacht club.
Things to beware of:
1. Boats – there are ALOT of boats moored in the channels, remember direction of the wind and give yourself lots of time and space to navigate around the boats.
2. Wind and Tide – get clued up and learn how they work. Always head in to the strongest element but remember the state of the tide changes and wind direction/speed can change.
3. The mud – at low tide the channels get relatively shallow especially round the edges… as you’d expect! However, the mersea mud is what sits at the bottom. It’s pretty hard work walking through it and rather smelly so we’d suggest just sticking well away from it!
Parking: There’s quite a few car parks spots down by Mersea Island Watersports, opposite the West Mersea Yacht Club.
Waterways License: Not needed!
We hope you found this helpful and gave you some new places to get out on the water! We have a social paddle night every Thursday at Mersea Island Watersports. Check out their website to book (https://mersea-island-watersports.co.uk).
We look forward to seeing you out on the water soon! Keep in touch on Facebook, twitter and Insta or just come by have a chat!
The Fluid Lines Team