WHERE IS IT?: South of Chelmsford. Follow the A1016 (old A12) out of Chelmsford towards London. Landranger sheet 167.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put-in upstream of the road bridge 692045, there is a layby 50m beyond the bridge on the southbound carriageway. The most convenient take-out is one of the carparks east of the town centre, Baddow road is cheapest. It is possible to paddle a further 7 km from Ingatestone 664991 down to this section. But only recommended for masochistic botanists, it is full of trees and there is nothing interesting, take a machete.


TIME NEEDED: Two hours, more if playing.

ACCESS HASSLES: Contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for up to date situation. There is no access agreement as such, but as it only goes in flood the fishermen tend not to be around.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Basically a drainage ditch in a flat county it needs heavy rain. Having said that it holds up for a day or so. Look at the channel upstream of the bridge, if the level is 2 feet from the top it is low but runnable. If level with the top of the channel it is high, you will have to limbo the bridge and the 3 Arches will be sumping.

GRADING: Grade I. The weir is probably III+ at high levels and there is considerable tree hazard.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees, lots of them. The gauging weir at 2km about 200m after a very low (portage) bridge. The 3 Arches an old weir or sluice, at high levels this sumps.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Put in on the upstream side of the bridge, left bank is usually easiest. For nearly 2 km the river winds through fields like the ditch it is. Numerous trees and bushes block the channel, find your way under, through or round these depending on the level, best not to fall in.

The way is then closed by a low farm bridge, if it is possible to squeeze under this the river is very low. Normally portage round. 200m beyond the bridge is a gauging weir, there are some steps on the right bank just above it. At low to medium levels it is no problem, with a friendly stopper to play in. At high levels it needs a long boat and long run up to punch the stopper, but a small jet flows through at each side, the stopper is less friendly with a long tow back. It is an anti-scour weir so treat with caution. There are more trees below the weir pool, then the banks clear above another broken weir. This produces a small surf wave at medium levels.

There are yet more trees for the next 2km until a stream joins from the left, this is the river Can. The Wid ends at this point and the Can continues to join the Chelmer in Chelmsford. Shortly the river bends left with houses on the left. Large willows hang over the water obscuring the next obstacle. This is the Three Arches, a disused weir consisting of three 2m channels with a bridge running over the top of the brick arches. At high levels there is too much water to pass through this constriction and it forms a sump. There are concrete steps immediately above on the right but the eddy isn't that big. The cautious can portage from above the Willows on the right bank.

The river is now in a public park but there is a final overgrown section to fight through before it opens out and you can relax. The railway viaduct is a good place for back dips and breakout practice. There is another 1km through the town centre to the Chelmer confluence and the take out.

OTHER NOTES: Makes a interesting change to paddle moving water in Essex, it's almost like a proper river trip.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Colin Smith, Southend Canoe Club.