GUIDE TO THE RIVER STOUR
(Sudbury to Bures)
NAME OF RIVER: River Stour, Suffolk.
WHERE IS IT?: Suffolk/Essex border. Map.
Put In: NB - where pubs are mentioned, ask the landlord's permission.
None of them raised any difficulties with us, but then we did stop for a meal in most cases.
(1) Sudbury at the Granary, HQ of the River Stour Trust, free parking next to river, follow signs for Quay Theatre. You can paddle upstream another mile or sobut the river is increasingly shallow and weedy.
(2) Henny, the Swan, 3 miles from Sudbury on west bank, roadside parking and landing stage in pub garden
(3) Bures, 7 miles from Sudbury, recreation ground on north bank on road to Nayland, free parking, longish carry to river across recreation ground
(4) Nayland, B1087, 12 miles from Sudbury on north bank, roadside parking, road beside river; or at the other end of the village, the Anchor Inn has a landing stage
(5) Stratford St Mary, 18 miles from Sudbury on north bank, roadside parking in village, landing stage in pub garden across road from the Swan
(6) Brantham Bridge, 21 miles from Sudbury, free parking, picnic site by river. It is then possible to do another mile or so down to the Cattawade Barrage at head of tide.
APPROX LENGTH: Sudbury to Bures about 8 miles with hourly bus service to return to car or round trips from each end.
Total canoeable distance from Sudbury to the sea 22 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Calculate your own time according to distance, and throw in a bit for a portage around locks every couple of miles.
ACCESS HASSLES: Public navigation. Environment Agency licence or BCU membership needed Water level: Regulated by locks and weirs. Often shallow below weirs for a short distance - may need to get out and push!
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Regulated by locks and weirs.
GRADING: I very placid!
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: All weirs should be portaged. Landing stages are provided and well signposted. In May beware nesting swans, especially between Bures and Nayland where one launched a series of low-level aerial attacks on us!
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A pleasant placid river. In upper reaches, it meanders between bluffs on either side of the valley. Lower down it broadens out and the river is lined by willow trees
OTHER NOTES: The river was restored to navigation as a Millennium project by the River Stour Trust, who run an annual social run from Sudbury to the sea in September. All are welcome; for details see www.riverstourtrust.org.uk. Only the locks above Henny and below Stratford have been restored, so the rest of the river is free of powered craft (and above Henny, restricted to non-polluting electric power).
The lower river down from Stratford was famously painted by Constable and is busy with tourists at summer weekends.
Public transport to return to a car is limited. For Bures - Sudbury and Nayland - Sudbury see www.chamberscoaches.co.uk (services 753/757 and 83 respectively). For Brantham - Stratford St Mary see www.dedhamstourvalley.org (Dedham Hopper service). Otherwise there are taxis; lots in Sudbury, otherwise the only local firm appears to be Crown Cars of Dedham 01206 323664.
The River Stour Trust now has an online guide to the Stour, printable, at www.riverstourtrust.org/Guide.html. While it gives river details, it has little about put-in points and local transport.
CONTRIBUTED BY: David Wilson, rewritten May 2006.