River Stort, Bishops' Stortford - Harlow

This is a nice trip of about 12 miles, start by parking in Sainsbury's car park in the centre of Bishops' Stortford, free on sundays and Bank holidays. Leave the car here. There are nine locks to negotiate, but there are some interesting alternatives. The town is soon left behind and the first lock is reached, home of the local canoe club. There is not a lot of traffic on the canal and it feels very small and intimate. Some of the portages involve crossing roads as the canal goes under some small bridges.

The get in
First lock
Easy resting
BWB state of the art barge, second lock.

As you approach the third lock, which is an easy portage, you can take a right and lift over the fence and take the weir on the side, this cannot be run, but is more fun. We did this in August and you can see the growth of hyacinths and the limbo dance you need to get under the bridge. We came to a dead stop in the growth, but forced a passage between the bank and the weeds. There was some nice clear water after this. After this, and before you reach the next lock (number4) take the left hand turn into the small marina. At the end of the marina, short portage right onto what was the original river.

Water jam!
Limbo dance
Clear water
The original river

Be prepared for some hard work through the reeds, though if you had stayed on the canal, you would have missed the fun. It took us nearly 30 minutes to get through the reeds. After this you come to the start of Sawbridgeworth. After the first lock and past the road bridge, there is a large old factory with a cafe inside if you need refreshments. The next lock takes you out of Sawbridgeworth. you have to cross the road here, so be careful.

Start of some hard work
End of Sawbridgworth
Clear water again
Lock Seven, two to go.

You now approach Harlow. At the first lock, you can get out and have more refreshments at the large pub and catch the train back for the car, or one more lock to go, three km and you can finish further down stream next to the main railway station and return for your car from here. There is a big pub here, The Watermill, and you can lift out straight into the carpark.

Approaching Harlow
Going through the lock
Final lock
The Watermill