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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Chelmer and Blackwater canal

Our final family visit was to Ian's sister Sheila and brother in law Chris. They live in a bungalow overlooking the Blackwater estuary at a place called St Lawrence near Maldon. Having caught up with the family news and bored them silly with the holiday photos, it was suggested that a drive to Maldon and then a walk to the Chelmer and Blackwater canal would interest us. We jumped at the chance to visit yet another waterway especially when Beeleigh falls was mentioned. So a bit of history first taken from the C&RT web site.

This waterway runs through a largely unspoilt part of rural Essex and connects the county town of Chelmsford with the tidal estuary of the River Blackwater at Heybridge Basin.  The 13.8 miles broad navigation and the pound locks (of which there are 11 and one sea lock) measure on average 68 x 17 feet could only take vessels of up to 60 feet long, With a 16 feet of beam and only a two-foot draught, this made the Chelmer and Blackwater the shallowest navigation in the country.

 Kept asking Sheila when would we reach the falls. Those of you who followed our adventures in Australia and New Zealand will know what big fans we were of waterfalls. Slightly bemused then, when the 'falls' turned out to be an overflow weir! To be fair Sheila did mention the lack of rain and how normally the weir was a 'sight to behold'.

Beeleigh Falls

We ended the walk at Maldon Port.  Found this exert from Ports.org.uk

It was where the River Blackwater began to widen into the estuary that Maldon's harbour facilities were established at a detached suburb called the Hythe. The word 'Hythe' is an old Saxon word and roughly translated means landing place. The Hythe, Hythe Quay or however you wish to call it, has been in existence for well over a thousand years, and for all of that time, up to and including today, has been the gateway to Maldon for vessels arriving from the sea.

Tide was out when we arrived but I was interested to see the floating dry dock in use. 

We are now back on FS and still preparing for the 'off' in a week or so. The well deck needs a coat of paint and although the rubbing down and primer has been applyed, we have run out of paint so a trip to the chandlers is the order of the day.

Floating dry dock.

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