One of my favourite walks is a 20 minute drive to Little Baddow in Chelmsford - It's not sign posted so here are the directions - A130 to Chelmsford and when you come to the roundabout take the exit for the A12 northbound. Take the first exit and head for the A414 towards Maldon for about 2 miles. Turn left at the Danbury duck pond and follow the road down for two and a half miles and you will come to Little Baddow. There is plenty of parking on the road or park in the tea room car park.
This is the halfway point in the journey along the River Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation from Chelmsford to the coast. The Navigation has 12 locks and 6 bridges all dating from the 1790's. It was completed in 1797 and enabled goods like timber, stone and bricks to go up river and grain and flour to go down. This is the reason why Britains first gasworks was built in 1819 in Chelmsford because of the coal moving up the canal.
The canal is nearly 14 miles long and from here you can follow the towpath, which is a right of way to Chelmsford or Heybridge Basin (see blog dated 19/2/12 )
Willows were planted along the banks to grow wood for cricket bats
There is a 75 feet drop from start to finish - we have kayaked this in the past and its much easier to pick up your kayak and walk it round the locks!
It's thirsty work all this walking!
After walking for an hour towards Chelmsford, we turned around and headed back for the Paper Mill Lock which has a very quaint cafe just beside the lock - it's open until 5pm so we just made it in time for a cuppa and a slice of cake! It's a very popular attraction and it was lovely to see so many families out enjoying their weekend. I think nearly every table had their four legged companion with them - all behaving very well even when a swan stopped off for bite to eat!
Alfie 'doggie watching' !
In 1792 two mills stood on the lower island - one grinding mica for the paper making process and the other for corn.
As we had expected with spaniels and water - it's bathtime when we get home.
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