The Stort Navigation is a little gem of a river. Turning onto the Stort from the River Lee at Fielde's Weir, one is immediately struck by a sense of change. The wide, open straights of the Lee give way to a narrow, meandering river which works it way through the lush countryside of Essex and Hertfordshire. Although nature seems to close in on you, civilization isn't too far away!

Friday 21 December 2012

Stay tied up!

The Stort is currently very high and flowing at something above 3mph in places. CaRT are running water through locks, relief channels are bursting their banks, some bridges are impassable and flood plains are being filled. Due to the saturation of surrounding fields, any rain that falls is finding its way into the river, and further heavy rain is forecast over the weekend. Trying to cruise the river is therefore not advised (trust me, I tried it this morning!)

Here's a picture of Burnt Mill Lock early this afternoon. Note that despite the ground paddles being fully open water is gushing over the lock gates.

Burnt Mill Lock

Stay tied up and stay safe.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Roydon Lock (13)

Roydon Lock, River Stort
Looking downstream to Roydon Lock (13)

About 250 yards upstream of Roydon railway bridge (7), the navigation reaches Roydon lock (13). The lock has a rise of 7 feet. The lock is popular with cyclists and walkers, as well as boaters, as a range of  refreshments is available from the lock cottage:
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, soft drinks, ice cream, sandwiches.
A lovely place to relax and watch the world go by while licking a lolly or sipping a cuppa.
Also available: Calor gas, coal (Stoveglow £10 per 25kg bag), red diesel, windlasses, BW keys, toilet fluid, water (£1 charge), Towpath Talk.

Local knowledge:
  • The top gates on this lock tend to spring open quite quickly; when emptying the lock it is a good idea to partially open a bottom gate paddle before closing the top gates.
  • The flow through the top paddles is very strong. Keep your boat towards the back of the lock when ascending  and raise the paddles in stages.
  • A CaRT rubbish barge is normally moored below the lock, downstream of the lock landing

Ducklings in Roydon Lock (13) From Roydon Lock
Looking Upstream from Roydon Lock (13)

Pound lengths and lock depths

For reference when cruising the Stort here are the approximate distances for each pound and depth for each lock. Lock numbers are in (brackets). Pound distances calculated using Canal Plan AC and given to the nearest eighth of a mile. Lock depths are referenced from History of Lee and Stort and are in [square brackets, imperial/metric]

Junction with River Lee to Lower Lock (15) [3'9"/114cm] 3/8 of a mile
Lower Lock to Brick Lock (14) [6'3"/190cm] ½ a mile *the entrance to Roydon Marina is in this pound
Brick Lock to Roydon Lock (13) [7'0"/213cm] 7/8 of a mile
Roydon Lock to Hunsdon Mill Lock (12) [7'0"/213cm] 1 mile
Hunsdon Mill Lock to Parndon Mill Lock (11) [7'0"/213cm] ¼ of a mile
Parndon Mill to Burnt Mill Lock (10) [4'1"/124cm] 5/8 of a mile
Burnt Mill Lock to Latton Lock (9) [6'0"/183cm] 1 and 1/8 miles
Latton Lock to Harlow Mill Lock (8) [8'9"/267cm] 1 and 1/8 miles
Harlow Mill Lock to Feakes Lock (7) [6'0"/183cm] 5/8 of a mile
Feakes Lock to Sheering Mill Lock (6) [5'8"/173cm] ½ a mile
Sheering Mill Lock to Sawbridgeworth Lock (5) [7'5"/226cm] ½ a mile
Sawbridgeworth Lock to Tednambury Lock (4) [5'9"/175cm] 1 and 3/8 miles
Tednambury Lock to Spellbrook Lock (3) [5'0"/152cm] 5/8 of a mile
Spellbrook Lock to Twyford Lock (2) [7'0"/213cm] 1 and 3/8 miles
Twyford Lock to South Mill Lock (1) [5'5"/165cm] 5/8 of a mile 
South Mill Lock to Causeway Bridge, head of navigation 1 and 1/8 miles

Wednesday 26 September 2012


Roydon road bridge (6) (facing upstream)

Travelling upstream from its confluence with the Lee, Roydon is the first town you come to on the Stort. It has three increasingly low bridges: Roydon Mill (5), Roydon road bridge (6) (by the train station), and Roydon rail bridge (7). The air draft at the rail bridge (7) under normal conditions is about 7 feet, but this can decrease considerably after heavy rain and it is not unknown to become impassable.

Roydon Rail Bridge, River Stort
Roydon railway bridge (7) (facing downstream)

Facilities: Visitor moorings with rings just below the road bridge (6).

Less than 5 minute walk from the visitor moorings:

Roydon Train Station: local services and trains to London Liverpool Street, Tottenham Hale, Harlow Town, Bishop's Stortford, Cambridge.

Franco's Italian restaurant, entrance in train station carpark
01279 792111

Within a 10 minute walk of the visitor moorings:

Facing upstream, turn right at the road bridge (6) to go into the town:

Dee's Pharmacy
100 High Streeet
Monday - Friday 0900 - 1900
Saturday 0900 - 1700
Closed Sunday

New Inn public house
High Street

65 High Street
General store - groceries, newsagent, off licence, cash machine (free withdrawls), Post Office.
Every day 0500 - 2100
Post Office opening hours:
Monday - Friday: 0900 - 1300 and 1400 - 1730
Saturday: 0900 - 1230
Post office closed Sunday

The Crusader public house
42 High Street

The White Hart public house
43 High Street

Emery Rogers hair dressers
3 High Street
01279 793364

Bengal Lancers, Indian restaurant
2 High Street (entrance in Harlow Road)
01279 793131

Local knowledge:
  • a rubbish barge is normally moored below Roydon road bridge (6) on the off side

Sunday 23 September 2012

River Stort Locks

The Stort has 15 in line locks, plus the lock which leads into Roydon Marina. The Stort locks are 85 feet long with beam 13 feet 3 inches, so narrowboats should NOT use them breasted up; attempting to enter or exit a lock with just a single door open should also be avoided. 13 of the locks are completely manual with Burnt Mill and Sheering Mill locks being partially electric. To navigate the full 13 and a bit miles of the Stort you will therefore need a dual sized windlass and a BW/CaRT key. It is local custom to leave lock gates open with all paddles down when leaving a lock, unless otherwise instructed. At the moment (Autumn 2012) only the lock at Parndon Mill requires the exit gates to be closed behind you due to leakage issues. Parndon Mill, River Stort